PERKINSTON, MS (WLOX) - For the ninth time in 11 seasons under the direction of head coach Gary Bourgeois, a Mississippi Gulf Coast tennis team is heading to nationals.
The women's team is heading to Tyler, Texas, following a third-place finish at the MACJC tournament in Perkinston last weekend.
Despite being just 17 years old, sophomore Brittney Buker completed a poised comeback in the No. 4 singles match Saturday to clinch MGCCC's spot in the NJCAA tournament May 3-9.
"I was trailing 3-0 in the second set," Buker said. "I came back from that and brought home the win. I'm very excited."
"The draw set up for us very well so we could win the tournament," Bourgeois said. "After the first day we were tied for first place, but on the second day we got into some matches that I thought we could win because we beat them during the regular season, but we got upset."
The attitude and nerves were amped up more than normal because Gulf Coast was playing in the new $1.5 million tennis facility that opened in March. Even though the team earned their right to participate in the JUCO national tournament, they were one point away from not being able to extend the season.
Freshman Christa Owen and sophomore Kit Chowdhary are the two players who make up the No. 1 doubles pair for the Bulldogs. Since the two are also roommates, they are destined to spend a lot of time together during school.
"Christa has helped me a lot, whether it be in friendship or tennis," Chowdhary said. "She's a really great person and has helped me grow as a tennis player and taught me many things. I love her."
The two also enjoy watching the TV show Gossip Girl. It's a mystery as to which one of the two introduced the show to the other, but that is considered their favorite one to watch.
Owen, who graduated from Stone High School in Wiggins, also plays for the Gulf Coast basketball team coached by Melanie Stone. Owen led the team in scoring at 11.4 points per game, and is counted on as the top singles player for Bourgeois on the tennis court.
"I've never really had to pick (between the two sports) because basketball is in a different season," Owen said. I love the team aspect of basketball but the individual aspect of tennis is amazing."
Owen isn't the only one on the tennis team who is familiar with playing two sports. Bourgeois not only has five decades of tennis experience, but he played football for Southern Miss during the 1965 and 1968 seasons.
While it's a unanimous decision that Bourgeois is one of the most respected and talented coaches out there, he admits that the team chemistry is what brought this team to this point.