Men's and women's tennis teams ready for road matches

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Emily Gauci | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona men's tennis sophomore Will Kneale returns a volley during Arizona's 4-1 loss to Oregon on Friday, April 10 at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center. Both men's and women's tennis teams hit the road to take on conference foes.

After having both heartbreaking losses and fantastic wins, the Arizona women’s tennis team travels to Tempe to compete against the rival ASU Sun Devils on Friday.

When the two teams matched up last year, the game came down to the wire. The Wildcats didn’t win the doubles point, but played with enough passion to be able to come close to winning the point on Senior Day. 

This year, the rivalry is still up in the air, as it is the last match of the regular season for two schools with a long history.

“Last year, it was definitely one of the most exciting matches overall for the season,” UA junior Shayne Austin said. “We struggled a little bit last weekend, but it is a new weekend for us, and if you beat ASU, that always concludes a pretty good season for us.”

Austin and senior Briar Preston, who are 5-3 in Pac-12 Conference play, hope to make it to nationals as doubles partners, but could potentially be playing together for the last time against ASU. 

The duo said they have developed great chemistry and truly trust each other on the court, which is essential to being able to succeed.

“We just believe in each other and trust each other on the court, which is huge in doubles,” Austin said. “There’s never any anger toward each other or anything. We are really close on and off the court, so I think that definitely helps us when we go out and play.”

Austin said she wants to forget about the past weekend and go out there with a positive attitude, support her teammates and play as hard as she can, as it could be their last match of the season as a team. 

“We are just going to go out there and try and do what we can,” Austin said. “We know we are capable of beating them and just supporting them.” 

Meanwhile, the Arizona men’s tennis team is traveling to Salt Lake City to conclude its regular season matches. 

The team has not had many great wins, but still has the drive and determination to play the best  it can. 

During the last two weekends, Arizona men’s tennis coach Tad Berkowitz said the team has been working hard to improve its game and get ready for Utah.

“Our main thing is kind of our athleticism, just being strong with our legs, being real light with our footwork and getting in the right position for every shot,” Berkowitz said. “That’s something that we can control: being in the right position, staying low with our legs just so we are never finding ourselves kind of not ready for the ball.”

Sophomore Will Kneale said he has never been to Salt Lake City and that he loves going to the Pac-12 Conference schools because they have very nice campuses. For the match this weekend, he said he wants to be able to finish off his matches and not lose control.

“[I need to] finish off the match if I’m winning,” Kneale said. “On Sunday, I was up, and I got a little tired and didn’t finish it off. But [I’ll] just compete hard like everyone, and hopefully we can get the win.”

As the last match of the regular season is here, Berkowitz said he wants his players to be able to finish strong.

“The guys have been through a lot this semester and, despite taking some losses, I am really proud of their effort and perseverance despite some injuries and stuff like that,” Berkowitz said. “Right now, it’s a gut check and character check for the guys — you know, let’s make sure we finish strong. It is the last regular match of the year and we need to give it absolutely everything that we have.”

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Follow Stevie Katz on Twitter.


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