NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Six years removed from not having a tennis program following Hurricane Katrina, Tulane's done an incredible job returning to national prominence.
"We went from about 260 in the nation," says head coach Mark Booras. "We cut that in half the second year to about 130. Then we went to 70, 69, 41. So we see our program continuing to gain momentum and ground."
The program's also rewriting their own record books. For starters, it's the first time the Green Wave have three ranked singles players, including senior Dominik Koepfer, the first player in Tulane history to be ranked number one in the nation.
"When I first got here, I wasn't even ranked," says Koepfer. "I wasn't ranked the second year. Then I tapped into the rankings around 120. From there, I just kept going up and kept improving. Obviously, being number one is something special. It's just a great feeling."
Ranked 63rd and 111th respectively, Constantmin Schmitz and Sebastian Rey add to the growing potential of this team that begins the season ranked 39th. However, with these high rankings come higher expectations as well.
"The big thing for us is we want to win a conference championship," says Booras. "When you put us on paper with some other programs, you can see that we have the manpower to be in that top 25 kind of range. The challenge for us this year will be we've never been there."
The same mentality goes for Koepfer with the target on his back as the nation's top player. Maintaining the mental edge is key.
"It's a big difference between getting to number one and maintaining number one," says Booras. "But he's taking the steps to really put himself up there, obviously, with some of the top players in the country."
Tulane opens the spring season against Jackson State on Saturday. For more on Koepfer and his number one ranking, be sure to join us on the Final Play this Sunday at 10:30 p.m.