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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

A weekend for benchmarks

The start of conference play for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s No. 39 Arizona women’s tennis team (8-2) has been something the team has been looking forward to for a long time.

With games against ITA No. 18 Washington and an unranked Washington State team on Friday and Saturday, respectively, this weekend will serve as an initial benchmark for how the team can compete against the stacked Pacific 10 Conference.

It will be the hardest test the Wildcats have faced this year. Even with their pair of ranked singles players in No. 89 sophomore Natasha Marks and No. 106 sophomore Sarah Landsman, there are no guarantees against the Huskies (8-1) and their two, top-20 nationally ranked singles players, Denise Dy and Venise Chan.

“”Arizona has always challenged the top programs, but we have also struggled to close out matches against the top teams,”” said head coach Vicky Maes. “”This year, we have more depth, so I certainly feel that we have a chance against Washington, but everyone will have to play well.””

The team is accepting that underdog role, with not only these two teams, but also the conference in general.

“”It is nice because we are the underdog, and therefore, the pressure is on them,”” said senior Ariane Masschelein. “”But we truly believe that we can compete with them and hopefully this year we can play hard and maybe upset one of those big teams.””

Men ready to rebound and get back to their winning ways

In the minds of the Arizona men’s tennis players and head coach Tad Berkowitz, the team has no recollection of last week’s road trip to Texas, where it dropped two matches by a score of 4-3 to No. 18 Texas Tech and No. 32 University of Denver. The Wildcats received their lessons and moved on.

Those matches are behind Arizona, and the team is ready for what this weekend will bring. Santa Clara University and University of Nebraska both come into Tucson, with UA playing Santa Clara (7-2) at 1 p.m. on Friday at LaNelle Robson Tennis Center and hosting Nebraska (6-3) on Sunday at 12 p.m. at the same location.

It will be interesting to see how the Wildcats can respond after their first sight of adversity this season. Up until last week, their only loss had been in the ITA National Indoor Tournament against No. 25 Alabama.

“”I think our guys will rebound well and have a successful weekend,”” Berkowitz said. “”We believe we can beat anyone in the country … but we also believe that if we’re not ready to go and if we’re not a complete unit, anybody can beat us.””

The biggest thing the head coach is looking for this weekend is a consistent outing from his entire team. While he mentioned that a lot of players are playing good tennis “”day in and day out,”” there hasn’t been one specific match in which everyone has played his best at the same time.

As the tennis season is now in full swing, there would be no better time to have a good outing for the men this weekend, who play in the prestigious, invite-only Blue Gray Tennis Classic over spring break, then follow that up with their Pac-10 opener.

 

Wildcats in the rankings

With the release of the ITA’s rankings on March 2, the men dropped 10 spots from No. 25 to No. 35. The doubles team of senior Ravid Hazi and junior Geoff Embry is slotted as the No. 51 team in the country.

For the No. 39 women, who improved 11 spots from the last release, undefeated sophomore Sarah Landsman is the newest ranked singles player at No. 106. Fellow sophomore Natasha Marks is at No. 89, a spot down from her previous ranking.

The next set of rankings will be released by the ITA on March 9.

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