Missouri shows off new facility at SEC tennis tournament

Friday, April 18, 2014 | 6:50 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — At Cosmo-Bethel Park, where the Georgia women’s tennis team warms up for its first Southeastern Conference Championship match on Friday, there are no Missouri Tiger logos. There are no SEC logos.

Instead, Rock Bridge logos decorate the courts: on benches, fencing and a small hut visible from the bleacher area.

Not long ago, Cosmo-Bethel Park, along with the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in St. Louis, was the home of Missouri tennis — in spite of the Rock Bridge logos.

This week, Missouri gets to show off its new home as it hosts the SEC Championship. The $2.9 million Mizzou Tennis Complex on Providence Road features six blue outdoor courts that are now in peak condition. The courts were renovated because of an oil problem that occurred late in 2012.

At last weekend's re-opening ceremony, Missouri tennis coach Sasha Schmid commented that the Tigers' new home was "if not the nicest facility in the SEC, one of the nicest,” which, she said, "means it’s the best in the nation.”

“It’s a very impressive facility,” said Georgia coach Jeff Wallace, whose sixth-ranked Bulldogs are the No. 4 seed in the tournament.

Friday marked Georgia’s first tennis match in Columbia since Missouri joined the SEC. This past year, the Tigers hosted their match against Georgia in St. Louis.

Missouri opened the tournament in style, defeating Arkansas in the first match Wednesday. It was the first SEC tournament victory for the Tigers.

No. 8 Texas A&M, seeded fifth, eliminated Missouri on Thursday night.

The Aggies are one of five top-25 ranked teams still alive in the tournament. Auburn, seeded seventh, entered ranked No. 25 and was eliminated by Kentucky on Thursday.

Kentucky lost to No. 2 seed Vanderbilt, ranked No. 11, earlier Friday.

Florida, ranked No. 4, returns as the defending champion and No. 4 seed in the tournament. The Gators play Texas A&M later Friday evening.

Alabama is the tournament’s No. 1 seed. The Crimson Tide, ranked No. 3, played eight-seed South Carolina in their first match Friday afternoon.

Two semifinal matches are on the schedule for Saturday. The final is scheduled for noon Sunday. Although Missouri won’t be competing, its presence will still be felt — thanks, largely, to the Tiger logos right above the front door.

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