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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Newcomers improve outlook for men’s tennis

    With a five-star recruit, a former professional and a team with a lot of returning potential, UA tennis head coach Tad Berkowitz is confident it’s going to be a good year.

    “”These guys need to believe,”” Berkowitz said. “”Potentially, we can do pretty well, but we need to prove ourselves. I’m just anxious to get out there and try to prove yourself.””

    After a 5-17 season, Berkowitz believes his squad of nine returning players and three newcomers will have the mental edge.

    “”We lost too many close matches last year,”” he said. “”We need to take the match from our opponents and not just hope they’re going to give it to us. We just need to earn these victories.””

    A busy offseason of acquisitions also adds to the excitement. The Wildcats signed five-star recruit Jay Goldman, a freshman from Worcester, Mass. Goldman is one of the nation’s top amateur players and Arizona’s highest-rated recruit in recent history, according to www.arizonaathletics.com.

    In the 2006 season, Goldman went 27-0 and finished the season ranked No. 19 and fourth in RPI among prep athletes, according to www.tennisrecruiting.net.

    “”He’s got a lot of tennis experience,”” Berkowitz said. “”He’s real structured and focused on his tennis. He’s a real disciplined guy.””

    Berkowitz referred to Goldman as a “”bulldog”” with potential to emerge as a leading force in UA tennis.

    “”He’s going to be tough,”” Berkowitz said. “”Even though he’s a freshman, we’re looking for him to step up and make a quick immediate impact for us.””

    Another addition to the squad is new volunteer assistant coach Taylor Dent. The former ATP player won four titles in 2002-2003.

    “”Our guys need to move forward and close in the net more, and that’s (Dent’s) style,”” Berkowitz said. “”It’ll help them be more aggressive and attack the ball a little bit more. It’s always good to have a former professional to help the guys out.””

    Dent will be a temporary assistant and will also help out with recruiting. Those assets will complement what Berkowitz called a strong team motivation after last season’s woes.

    “”After a tough year like that, every one of the guys on the team said they can’t wait for the season to start,”” Berkowitz said. “”That was something that I think is really important. They’ll take that experience and have some success this year.””

    The new Wildcats will join senior co-captains Claudio Christen and Bruno Alcala.

    “”We’ve got a great core of guys back,”” Berkowitz said. “”We’re really looking for them to show the young guys what it’s like to play in the Pac-10.””

    Aside from the co-captains, Alcala believes someone else will have to step up as a leader.

    “”Last year, when results started going bad, we started getting down on ourselves,”” Alcala said.

    Despite a recent lull in Pacific 10 Conference tennis, Berkowitz said, he thinks the conference will bounce back on a national level.

    “”They’re all going to be back on track,”” he said. “”We have a really tough, strong schedule. We need to earn these wins and take them from these teams. That’s our philosophy this fall: just go out and get it.””

    USC is currently favored to win the conference, but an open league after the Trojans could work to an advantage for the Wildcats, Berkowitz said.

    “”Hopefully, we can step up and take on of those teams down and make a little bit of a run,”” he said. “”I think we’re capable.””

    Berkowitz also looks forward to avenging ASU’s sweep last season.

    “”That puts a little asterisk on those (ASU) matches,”” he said. “”We just want to defend our home turf as well. We need to work on just taking games from teams.””

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