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Thursday, September 23, 2004
FPU to start tennis and baseball in 2005-2006

Break out the rackets and bats! Tennis and baseball are coming back to Fresno Pacific University.

FPU plans to implement intercollegiate men's and women's tennis and men's baseball in time for the 2005-2006 season. The announcement was made by Athletics director Dennis Janzen.

"We have been working on this for quite some time," said Janzen. "It is the right move."

The final step in the process was to gain faculty approval. That occurred earlier this week.

"The faculty session voted overwhelmingly to affirm the recommendation of the FPU athletic department," Janzen said.

“Tennis and baseball are a natural fit for Fresno Pacific University,” said FPU president D. Merrill Ewert. “We have many students who love these sports. The San Joaquin Valley offers fantastic weather, passionate fans, wonderful facilities and a deep pool of potential players. These new teams will offer our students an opportunity to compete and generate greater visibility for the university. What an exciting time for FPU"

The search for coaches begins immediately. The intention is to appoint coaches no later than December 1, 2004.

The Harold and Betty Haak Tennis Complex, comprising seven lighted courts, is currently under construction and scheduled to be dedicated the first weekend in April. When finished it will serve as the home for FPU tennis teams and also provide recreational and academic opportunities for students, staff and faculty.

The baseball team will practice and play at local area fields until a campus baseball diamond is built. FPU's plan is to move women's and men's soccer from its current venue, Steinert Field, to Ramirez Field, located within Cockerham Track. Steinert Field will then be converted into a baseball facility. The transition will not occur until the stadium that houses both Cockerham Track and Ramirez Field is completed.

"We are fund-raising aggressively for each of these projects," Janzen said. "The first priority is to complete the track and soccer stadium. There will be no on-campus baseball facility until that gets done."

It has been over 30 years since FPU fielded a tennis team. In the late 1960s and early 1970s FPU tennis teams competed against local area community colleges, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) member schools in the Los Angeles area as well as California State University, Fresno and California State University, Stanislaus.

FPU’s first baseball club team emerged in the mid 1960s. A second attempt at baseball occurred in the 1980s. FPU’s current baseball club started four years ago and has played a 15-20 game schedule against such teams as University of California Santa Cruz, Humboldt State University and California State University, Monterey Bay.

The 2005-2006 schedules for both sports will include a full compliment of Golden State Athletic Conference contests. FPU’s tennis and baseball teams will also be eligible to compete in the GSAC and NAIA championships.