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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Despite early season success, doubles remains a point of emphasis for the Arizona men’s tennis team

Nathanial Stenchever

The Arizona men’s tennis team gets ready before a match against the University of San Diego on Feb. 4 at the Robson Tennis Center. The UA men’s tennis team, ranked No. 16 in the country, went on to lose the first two doubles matches by close scores.

It has been a great start to the spring season for the Arizona men’s tennis team. Coming off a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the NCAA Tournament last year, expectations were high entering this season, and they have delivered so far with an 8-2 record overall and a clean 5-0 home record. With that being said, there is always room for improvement and head coach Clancy Shields was not shy in bringing that up, mentioning doubles play as a point of emphasis for the players at practice this week. 

“We’re a good singles and a lousy doubles team,” Shields said. “We are going to change that. As I told the guys, we are only going to work on the doubles until it gets better. Actually, we have done it 100% of the time the last two days, and it has gotten a lot better, so we might keep working on it.”

In the matches against Texas University, Pepperdine University, Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University and San Diego University so far this season, the Wildcats are 2-3 as a team in winning the doubles point, and the schedule is only going to get tougher as early as next month with the University of Oklahoma and Baylor University coming to town right before conference play begins. 

“Certainly the skill is there to be a good doubles team,” Shields said. “I think we just got to work on it more, and it is only one point, but it’s a big point. We play different when we win the doubles point. We play with more confidence, and sometimes we also play good when we lose the doubles point because the guys play feisty and come with a chip on their shoulders.”

Despite losing the doubles point and even the first singles point to fall in a 2-0 hole against San Diego last Friday, the Wildcats rallied to win each of the next five points to win the match 5-2. It is this resilience and hunger to play for each other that makes this team so dangerous. 

“We just fight until the very end,” senior Carlos Hassey said. “If we lose a couple [matches], no matter what we are always going to fight until the very last point. Whether it is 6-0, 5-0 or 4-0, we will try to bounce back. We don’t really look at the scoreboard when we’re playing. We just play the game and see what happens.”

After Herman Hoeyeraal won his singles match to put Arizona on the board and cut the deficit to 2-1, Hassey was able to take home his match in straight sets to tie the match at 2-2. After winning the first set fairly easily, the second set went into a back-and-forth tiebreaker where Hassey ultimately prevailed. 

RELATED: The rise of Herman Hoeyeraal 

“We always want to try and get it done in two sets, but obviously as the match goes on with good players they are going to raise their level as well,” Hassey said. “For me, I just try to keep my mindset there and try to finish it, play the big points how I should play them and try to get the job done.”

This past Wednesday, the ITA released the newest set of men’s tennis singles rankings that saw four Wildcat players land in the top-75: Colton Smith at No. 42, Hoeyeraal at No. 56, Gustaf Strom at No. 58 and Jonas Ziverts at No. 73. 

Ziverts posted one of the more impressive performances against San Diego, not only defeating then No. 1 ranked singles player August Holmgren but also doing it at less than full health. 

“He didn’t practice all week as he has been injured,” Shields said. “He didn’t really hit a ball, so I wasn’t expecting much at all, to be honest. I was looking at the scoreboard and kept seeing him hang around, and then he got up in the third [set] and put him away. It has got to be a big confidence booster for him, especially not practicing for five days before beating the No. 1 player in the country.”

Up next for the Wildcats is a doubleheader on Saturday against NAU at the Lanelle Robson Tennis Center courts on Saturday, Feb. 12, with the first match starting at 10 a.m. MST and the second match scheduled for 2 p.m. MST.  

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