2023 TEAMS TENNIS
1968 FRESNO STATE MEN’S TENNIS
In May of 2019, the Fresno State men’s tennis team played in the NCAA Tournament for the 14th time in program history. It turned out to be 14 times in a span of only 25 years, though, because the Bulldogs’ first NCAA Tournament appearance was in 1994. 23 years earlier is when Fresno State began competing in Division I. But it was actually three years before that, in what is now known as Division II, when the Bulldogs first made their mark.
They won a national championship in 1968.
Coached by Richard Murray, who was actually a basketball player and a football player at Fresno State (he was a member of the Mercy Bowl team in 1961), the Bulldogs came out of nowhere in 1968. They only had one returning player from the previous season, a season in which they did not win a single conference match.
The Fresno State men’s tennis team had an 11-1 record in dual meets in 1968 en route to the program’s first-ever California Collegiate Athletic Association championship. The Bulldogs, whose only loss was to Oregon, earned a berth in the NCAA Western Regionals in Santa Barbara. After winning that tournament, beating out 23 other teams, they qualified for the NCAA College Division Tennis Championship in Fort Worth, Texas.
Jim Powers entered nationals as the No. 2 seed in singles. At regionals, he won the individual title in singles, after beating the No. 4, No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in consecutive matches.
Powers did not win the singles title at nationals; however, he and Gary Ogden did win the doubles title for Fresno State. And they helped the Bulldogs defeat Cal State Los Angeles to win the team title.
In the 1960’s, Cal State Los Angeles was a men’s tennis powerhouse, winning three national titles and finishing runner-up in two more. One of those runner-up finishes was to Fresno State in 1968, by a score of 19-14.