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TU women's tennis looking for breakthrough in NCAA Regional

University of Tulsa senior and American Athletic Conference Player of the Year Rongrong "Dobby" Leenabanchong practicing on Thursday before the Golden Hurricane's 2017 NCAA Regional. (KTUL)

Tennis is the ultimate sport of precision; the ability to endlessly take shots from any number of directions and return it inside the white lines. On a program level, the 40th ranked University of Tulsa women's tennis team has taken that consistency even farther over the past decade.

The Golden Hurricane have qualified for an NCAA Regional every year since 2007. "[Overall toughness] has been the secret to our success," said longtime head coach Dean Orford. "One through six, everyone contributes. And we're just a really solid blue collar team."

While Coach Orford is proud of the fact his program is in the NCAA Tournament for an 11th straight season, the goal has become taking that success as a step further. And for this group of seniors, they want to be the ones to finally do it.

"We always wanted to go to the 'Sweet 16,'" said senior and American Athletic Conference Co-Player of the Year Ronggrong "Dobby" Leenabanchong.

"[Coach Orford] talked about it every year. But we never achieved it. And I'm going to be playing so I truly believe we can achieve that goal."

This attempt won't be any easier. TU is a young team with a lot of freshmen. And the upperclassmen know they have to set the tone this weekend against No. 21 LSU. Should the Golden Hurricane win, they would most likely play host-team Cal-Berkeley. And a win there would send Tulsa to its goal.

"I really look at this in a positive way," explained Tulsa senior Mahitha Dadireddy. "Yes, just play our best. And this the last [chance] we got."

"We got a really decent chance I believe," Orford said. "And now we just got to put it on the court."

"Coach Orford, we'll make you proud," smiled Leenabanchong.

"And LSU, we're coming for you."

The No. 40 Golden Hurricane's Berkeley Regional against No. 21 LSU begins Saturday, May 13th at 11:00 a.m. central time at the Hillman Tennis Complex.

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