Arizona men’s tennis faces toughest test yet
If you happen to stop by Spring Fling this weekend and glance across the University of Arizona Mall, you’ll find the Robson Tennis Center, where Arizona men’s tennis has two big-time matchups this weekend.
The men’s tennis team is looking to finish off its successful season on a high note, but two giant and unavoidable tests lay in its path. National powerhouses USC and UCLA come to Tucson as the ‘Cats take on USC Friday, April 13, at 2:30 p.m, then it will line up against UCLA on Sunday, April 15, at noon.
The 15-11 Wildcats have made strides this season under head coach Clancy Shields, establishing themselves as a program on the rise that just happens to play in the most grueling tennis conference in the land. Arizona, barring its five conference losses, would be sporting a 15-6 record, which is nothing to overlook as it has continued to battle even with only two seniors on the team, having to rely on youth and energy to make up the difference.
If the Wildcats can eek out a win against either one of these programs, it could be considered one of the biggest wins in program history and may even set off waves in the tennis community that the old guard isn’t what it used to be. The confidence Arizona would be able to take from it going into the penultimate final match against in-state rival Arizona State would be invaluable.
As Arizona looks to establish itself as a regional power that can compete with the titans of the game, taking care of the foes in its backyard is most important, and this weekend’s matches against the two Los Angeles schools will be a brutal barometer for where the team currently is.
As for those two seniors, Trent Botha and Shoti Meparidze, the work they both have put into this program is nothing short of exceptional and will be honored during their last weekend at Lanelle Robson as they pass the baton to their younger teammates.
For their young teammates, this weekend is a great opportunity to measure their first- or second-year growth against elite competition going into the offseason. They look to continue to build on the foundation that has been slowly but surely laid down brick by brick by the players that have come before them. This weekend is an opportunity to honor these senior players and to get to know the players that will be coming back.
So if you hear cheers coming from the tennis courts while walking around Spring Fling, the weekend duel is underway.
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