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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Tennis tested in weekend matches

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Mens doubles featuring Ravid Hazi and Geoff Embry of Arizona.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Men’s doubles featuring Ravid Hazi and Geoff Embry of Arizona.

The men’s and women’s tennis teams started their respective seasons out strong last weekend, with the women posting convincing wins against University of California, Santa Barbara and University of California, Davis. The men also rolled to a 7-0 victory against Montana State.

However, both teams can’t bask in their glory for too long, as they have work to do.

Yesterday, the No. 23 men’s team traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., in preparation for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Indoor Tournament. As reflected in the name, the UA teams will be facing top-notch competition this weekend.

Saturday, the Wildcats will square off against ITA No. 25 Alabama (0-1) — the same program that current Arizona men’s head coach Tad Berkowitz once led to the NCAA championships.

Because this is a regional matchup, the Wildcats’ bracket not only contains No. 25 Alabama but also No. 18 Duke (1-0) and No. 22 Auburn (0-0). The Wildcats come into Tuscaloosa ranked a spot higher than their pre-season ranking.

“”We’re a team that can go in there and come out on top,”” Berkowitz said. “”These are good teams, so we’ll have to play our best, but we have the guys, the ability, and I think we can win out there.””

After the match with Alabama, Arizona will face off against either Duke or Auburn on Sunday depending on who wins or loses. If two wins go the Wildcats’ way, then they will compete in the 16-team ITA National Indoor Championships, which will take place in the middle of February.

“”It’s an interesting test because we proved last year we could hang with the big boys. Now, it’s an interesting challenge to see if we can step up and take them down,”” Berkowitz said. “”I couldn’t think of anything better than to play this tournament now and get right in the fire.””

The women, on the other hand, will be staying home and hosting Northern Arizona University (1-0) at LaNelle Robson Tennis Center on Saturday. In NAU’s only match this year, they faced UC Santa Barbara and won with a team score of 4-3.

“”Even though I feel the match with NAU should go our way this weekend, I’m certainly not overlooking them,”” said head coach Vicky Maes in an email. “”We have had the upper hand in past years but, traditionally, they are a program that fights until the very end and we need to be prepared for that.””

The biggest question for the Wildcats is the status of sophomore Natasha Marks’ sprained ankle that she suffered from in her first match last weekend. While things are looking promising, they are treating her as a game-time decision. If she will not be able to compete, fellow sophomore Sarah Landsman will take her spot in the No. 1 singles position, as she did last week.

Maes also commented how confident the girls seem after their two wins starting the season last weekend and she hopes that the momentum will carry over to their upcoming match.

“”It’s in our players’ hands,”” she said. “”I was very pleased with their focus and competitiveness last week and, as a coach, you hope to see them carry that to a higher level as the weeks go by.””

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