Senior makes tennis program history with award

Senior Miguel Garcia battles against Valdosta State Feb. 24. Gulf South Conference officials named senior Miguel Garcia player of the week Feb. 21. 

by Associate News Editor Harley Duncan

Gulf South Conference officials named senior Miguel Garcia player of the week Feb. 21. Garcia’s performance is the first to be awarded the honor for the UNA tennis program.

Garcia has fought for the Lions since 2015, where he played singles and doubles as a true freshman.

The senior from Spain led UNA’s team with a three-set victory over West Florida in the No. 1 singles matchup (6-2, 4-6, 6-4) and had a comeback win with his partner, Senior Austin Racine, in the No. 1 doubles match (8-6).

“I felt very satisfied that all of my hard work is paying off,” Garcia said.

Garcia said he expects to continue competing at a high level against No. 1 players.

The standout senior was selected to the second all-conference team his sophomore and junior, but this season Garcia said he hopes to be selected first team all-conference and rank in the Division II top 50 players at the end of the season.

“In the last two years, I was selected to the second team,” he said. “With this being my senior year, it would be really nice to earn first team honors. The level of competition is very equal, so it will be difficult to do.”

Winning a national championship is typically the goal at the beginning of every season, yet Garcia said his primary focus is not currently on that.

Last year, the Lions competed in regional play. Garcia said they would like to be in the same position again this year.

“It would be very hard to win a national championship because of the level competition,” he said. “I think we can get back to regionals this year, then we can think about moving forward from there.”

Garcia said the team doubles competition gives him another opportunity to reach his goals.

Now, Garcia said he and Racine are working on grooming their chemistry as teammates on the court.

“We are both seniors, so we are giving everything we have,” Garcia said. “It is just important that we work hard on figuring out how we best play with each other.”

Upon Garcia’s selection as player of the week, he said his teammates and coaches were excited for him.

“I am very proud of Miguel on being named Player of the Week,” said head coach Brice Bishop. “What a great honor, especially in the GSC. The GSC is so tough, and to win this award is very fitting for Miguel. He is definitely playing his best tennis.”