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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona tennis season wrap-up

Valentina Martinelli / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Valentina Martinelli
Valentina Martinelli / Arizona Daily Wildcat

With a solid showing at the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament, the No. 50 Arizona women’s tennis team proved it belongs in cotention for NCAA Championship dreams.

But skeptics of Arizona’s potential, especially after its one conference win on the regular season, have the Wildcats sitting on the bubble for a national championship bid.

Even if the bid doesn’t come, head coach Vicky Maes and staff are still proud of their team’s effort. And with the No. 11 recruiting class in the nation, the coaching staff looks toward the bright future the Arizona women’s tennis team has in store.

“”Overall, I feel the team did a fantastic job this spring,”” Maes said. “”Aside from our loss against Washington State, we performed well beyond expectations. Everyone stepped up and took responsibility of their courts. Different people stepped up at different times, which led us to be as strong in singles as I can remember.””

Sophomores Sarah Landsman and Natasha Marks have been the Arizona singles anchors throughout the season. Landsman spent a few weeks at the No. 84 spot and Marks finished the regular season as the No. 106 player in the country, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

Despite the strong singles play, the Wildcats struggled to persevere on the doubles courts.

“”One area of weakness was our doubles play,”” Maes said. “”I feel we need a lot of work there, and we will most definitely focus on that in the fall. However, when you look at our wins, we won four singles matches every time, so the doubles point did not affect us too much mentally, and for that I am very pleased with the team.””

Maes and the team are looking toward May 4, when the NCAA tournament draws are made, and only then will the Arizona’s fate be decided. If they don’t make the championships, the Arizona women can still take comfort in the solid years that lie ahead.

“”(Our solid recruiting class) shows the recognition we are getting as a program and the effort (assistant coach Ryan Stotland) and I put into promoting our philosophy,”” Maes said. “”We feel the future of women’s tennis is very bright, but it’s the girls we have today who put the wheels into motion.””

Quickly forgetting the results of last weekend’s Pacific 10 Conference Tournament, the No. 30 Arizona men’s tennis team is gearing toward its seventh appearance at the NCAA championships.

With a hard-fought regular season in the nation’s premiere conference behind them, the Wildcats (13-10, 2-4 Pac-10) will need to draw on their experience and team unity to make a solid tournament run, especially considering the immense talent pool the Wildcats will run into beginning May 14 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.

Compared to past seasons, Arizona head coach Tad Berkowitz recalls a less bumpy ride to the championships.

“”Last year, we made a pretty good little jump and finished top 25 in the country,”” he said. “”It was kind of like the ideal year. We didn’t have to deal with any injuries.””

However, the tennis gods were less kind to the Arizona men this year after some key injuries saddled the team with immense pressure.

The loss of senior Jay Goldman, whose nagging wrist injury left him out of some early competition, was an especially hard loss. His presence might have turned the results in favor of the Wildcats in several matches this season.

Despite the injuries, Berkowitz and the men’s coaching staff are proud of the overall efforts that have been put out this season. The Wildcats’ ability to retain the No. 30 spot at season’s end is proof of their mature level of play.

“”I’m proud of the guys for their resilience,”” Berkowitz said. “”They always brought their best effort to the table and they competed so hard every single match. Despite the fact that lost some close ones against teams that we should’ve beaten, the testament to them is what they’ve were able to do after every tough loss. They always rebounded and battled again the next weekend.””

Arizona embodied toughness in the April 11 victory over UCLA where the Wildcats were finally able to silence the Bruins, who had beaten them in 74 straight meetings.

Arizona’s ability to disregard its anemic individual performances last weekend at the conference tournament will be the key to refocusing throughout the coming weeks.

The tournament draw will be announced in a live selection show on ESPNews on May 4, with every team yearning for a taste at the proverbial peach of NCAA glory.

Arizona’s glory will only come with hard effort and confidence, but the experience gained from its tough schedule could propel it.

“”The guys are definitely play-tested, and beating some of the teams we have like UCLA, but on the alternative, losing to some of the teams that we have, we know that we can come out and virtually beat anybody that we face, and at the same time any team can creep up on us and get us,”” Berkowitz said.

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