The LSU tennis team is currently the only program in the Southeastern Conference without access to on-campus indoor training facilities, but that will soon change.
LSU is planning to build a new tennis complex that will include six indoor courts, 12 outdoor courts and a bigger viewing area for fans.
The current stadium — W.T. “Dub” Robinson Stadium — has hosted the team’s home matches since 1976, and compared to other tennis facilities throughout the SEC, is outdated.
LSU men’s coach Jeff Brown and LSU women’s coach Julia Sell both cited being able to practice on campus on rainy days as major benefits they expect to reap from the new facility.
Indoor courts often play faster than outdoor courts and the wind factor is eliminated, allowing for more accurate shots.
Brown said the changes call for a more aggressive strategy, one the Tigers aren’t comfortable executing without practice.
“We lost our first two SEC matches this year when we went indoors,” said LSU sophomore Chris Simpson. “We lost all of our indoor matches last season as well, so the experience of playing on indoor courts would definitely help with that.”
Brown also said the new complex will help for players who stay in Baton Rouge during the summer to train.
“During the fall and spring semesters, there is a limit on how much we can practice during the week,” Brown said. “Over the summer, though, if a player comes to us to practice, we can work as long as we want, something you can’t do outside during Louisiana summers.”
Sell disagreed with the sentiment, saying, “The hotter it is, the better,” before cracking a sly smile.
Sell did agree the new facility would go a long way in improving the program, though.
The new complex will have another added effect: drawing in recruits to the program.
The Lady Tigers are bringing the highest-ranked recruiting class in team history for next season, and while the addition of a brand-new coaching staff certainly helped, the new facility played a large part.
Brown said the recruits will be able to come to the facility during on-campus visits and know tennis is a valued sport at LSU.
“It’s monumental for the program,” Sell said.