This Week for the Wildcats: The No. 75 University of Arizona men’s tennis team (3-6) will remain in Tucson this week as they take on the Memphis Tigers (3-5) and the No. 43 University of Denver (5-3). The first match against Memphis will begin at 1 p.m. on Thursday. The Wildcats will square off against the Pioneers of Denver Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Both matches will be held at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Complex.
Last week: After a tough 0-2 trip in California the prior week, Arizona returned home to face UNLV (3-7). Heading into the week, the Wildcats had recently struggled to win the doubles point in their past several duels. Before their match against the Rebels, the Wildcats opted to revamp their doubles teams. The strategy paid off against UNLV as Arizona was able to capture the doubles point for the first time in their last six outings. In singles, the two teams split matches. Freshman Ravid Hezi had a dominant performance in a straight-set victory over UNLV’s David Campbell and Arizona sophomore Peter Zimmer clinched the match with a win over Jonathan Hooper.
Against Memphis: This will be the second time Arizona and Memphis meet on the tennis court. In their last outing on March 8, 2005, Arizona took the match 6-1.
Scouting the Tigers: It is difficult to judge the strength of the Tigers at this point in the season. All if Memphis’ five losses have come against ranked teams and their three victories have been over unranked opponents. Amrit Narasimhan, who has filled in sporadically at the No. 1 position for the Tigers, has compiled the team’s best singles record this spring at 5-3. A weakness of Memphis appears to be the bottom of their lineup; the three players that have rotated between the No. 4 and 5 spots have amassed a 2-8 singles record this spring.
Against Denver: Arizona is 2-0 all-time against Denver.
Scouting the Pioneers: Heading into the spring season, the University of Denver received a ranking of No. 62. Early in the season, on Feb. 3, the Pioneers upset No. 23 Texas Tech 5-2. That was the first of four consecutive victories, including one over another ranked opponent, which propelled them to No. 43 in the rankings. The Pioneers are led by junior Adam Holmstrom, who has a cumulative 21-5 singles record this season, including an impressive 7-1 singles record this spring.
Wildcats in the Rankings: After falling out of the rankings last week, the Wildcats have regained a spot in a tie at No. 75.
Fantastic Freshman: Freshman Ravid Hezi is looking more and more comfortable in an Arizona uniform every match. He has the talent to fill any spot on the Wildcat roster, but a lack of experience prevented him from excelling earlier in the season. “It was a lot of pressure at the beginning of the year to immediately jump in at the No. 2 spot and perform. I’m more comfortable at this point at No. 3, and whenever I can get a point for the team I’m happy,” noted Hezi. Against UNLV, Hezi played an almost flawless first set in his victory against David Campbell. He was patient and consistent from the baseline, building points and capitalizing on short balls. His confidence was evident as he began coming into the net more often and ending points with conviction. One spectator commented, “He’s so poised and relaxed out there. His game is beautiful to watch.” Hezi is currently 2-1 at the No. 3 position.
Fall Action: Fall tournament results were sporadic for Arizona, with some players falling in the early rounds while others pulled out unexpected victories. The Wildcats ended their tournament schedule on a high note as Bruno Alcala and Claudio Christen teamed up to reach the semifinals of the ITA West Regional Championships. The team’s only sophomore, Tucson’s own Peter Zimmer, compiled the best record through the fall at 7-3. Christen pulled the biggest upset of the fall, defeating Baylor’s Michal Kokta, who was No. 23 in the nation at the time.
Pac-10 Elite: Once again the Pac-10 is the premier conference in the nation for men’s tennis. In the current rankings perennial powerhouse UCLA ranks the highest among Pac-10 teams at No. 6. USC is not far behind at No. 9, with Washington next at No. 19. Stanford and Cal-Berkeley are at No. 36 and No. 41, respectively. Arizona State is No. 50, slightly ahead of the No. 75 Arizona Wildcats. Oregon is currently one of the bubble teams on the outside looking in.
Next Week: The Wildcats travel to San Diego on March 12 to take on San Diego State (3-5). The following weekend Arizona will be in action at home to take on two Pac-10 opponents, No. 6 UCLA (9-2) and No. 9 USC (9-0). The matches are scheduled to begin at 1 and 1:30 p.m., respectively, and will take place at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Complex.