"M-tennis maintains ""blue-collar mentality"" "
The Arizona men's tennis team resumed its practice schedule last week, and though the true stakes lie in the spring, anticipation for the individual competition in the fall season is running high.
""Our guys are all fired up and ready to go for another season,"" said Tad Berkowitz, head coach and Pacific 10 Conference Coach of the Year.
Following the Wildcats' breakout 2009 spring season, players and coach alike acknowledge that the ante has been upped.
""It's a situation now where we've proven to ourselves that we're a pretty good team, and we could do some good things nationally as well as in the Pac-10,"" Berkowitz said. ""Now the bar's been raised, and we're trying to make a push to take it to the next level now.
""The good thing about that is that I believe in the guys and I believe they could take a step forward on the national scene, but more importantly, the guys believe it themselves,"" he added. ""It'll be an exciting year for us.""
Senior Ravid Hazi spoke of a more cohesive team that will have benefitted from both the retention of its core players and the addition of valuable new freshmen.
""Obviously, there are more expectations for us,"" he said. ""We definitely feel confident and have bonded … even the freshmen are finding it easier to come to a good, strong team. The best thing is our coaches trust us. … We all know the expectation is that we should do even better because we are basically the same team, just with new freshmen.""
Junior Jay Goldman said a great deal of the differences between this season and last is the way Arizona will be viewed by opponents.
""We beat a lot of good teams, and we have the same team coming back, so how we're perceived this year is different since we had success and have an even better team this year,"" he said. ""I think it's a different type of pressure … it's the most excitement I've seen since I've been here. It's going to be a great year.""
Berkowitz also addressed the loss of the Wildcats' ""underdog"" status in the Pac-10.
""We'll be the hunted as opposed to the hunter,"" he said.
Hazi said while public opinion of the Wildcats may have changed in light of recent success, the team's confidence in its abilities was there all along.
""I think the only difference is we always knew we are good players, a good team, but now we actually showed it,"" he said. ""We know that the Pac-10 teams know now that U of A is strong. They will be a lot more alert now when they play us.""
While conceding to a higher level of confidence, Berkowitz cautioned against deviating too far from the mindset that worked so well for the team the previous season.
""I think the one thing our guys need to remember is how we got where we are right now,"" he said. ""The guys play with that blue-collar mentality, with that never-give-up, never-say-die mentality. We're a team where we need to continue to fight for everything we have, and that doesn't change. Even though we're ranked a little higher now, we need to keep that same mentality.""