Tennis has tough road ahead in spring 2015
After concluding their fall seasons, both Arizona men’s and women’s tennis have high expectations for the upcoming spring season, while going up against some of the best in the nation.
Arizona men’s tennis capped off its final tournaments of the fall season this past weekend, competing in the Dick Vitale Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic in Sarasota, Fla., and the Jack Kramer Club Invitational in Los Angeles. Junior Jason Jaruvang and freshman David Mushayev competed in Sarasota, while junior Naoki Takeda and freshman Shoki Kasahara competed in Los Angeles.
Takeda had quite the tournament, scoring an upset against SMU senior No. 87 Arturs Kazijevs 6-4, 6-4. The upset marked the highest-ranked victory for any of the men during the fall. He ended his fall season on a high note, defeating Stanford junior Nolan Paige 5-7, 6-4, 11-9, improving to 8-3 in singles play this fall.
“The guys competed against a high level of competition this weekend, and we are definitely at that level,” UA men’s tennis head coach Tad Berkowitz said in a press release. “We will continue to work and improve during the offseason and be ready to go come January.”
The men have a challenge ahead of them, having to take on 11 ranked opponents and six NCAA Tournament teams from just a year ago. Their toughest matches will come up against 2014 NCAA semifinalist UCLA and 2014 NCAA National Champion USC. They will also face No. 41 Texas Tech, No. 60 New Mexico, No. 29 Boise State, No. 16 California, No. 43 Oregon and No. 66 Washington during the spring season.
Arizona opens its spring against UC Irvine on Jan. 16, 2015, and has won six of its last seven season openers since 2008.
On the other hand, No. 33 Arizona women’s tennis will go up against 10 ranked opponents and six that competed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The women open their spring season against New Mexico State on Jan. 24, 2015. The Wildcats have won 11 straight season openers dating back to 2001.
After a stinging defeat in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last season against Florida State, Arizona must get off to a fast start, especially with the level of competition that it will play in the Pac-12 Conference.
The Wildcats will face a slew of tough opponents, including No. 38 Houston, No. 63 BYU, No. 44 Utah, No. 52 Washington State, No. 10 California, No. 8 Stanford, No. 16 USC and 2014 NCAA National Champion UCLA. For the final match of the season, Arizona will face ASU, whom the Wildcats upset last season in a match that went down to the wire.
Although the women’s team lost most of its experienced players last season, the Wildcats bring a new squad to the table, one that will have to stay focused and on track this upcoming season.
Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.