This Week for the Wildcats: The No. 72 Arizona Wildcats (1-3) return home this weekend for two matches against ranked opponents. Up first for Arizona is No. 75 Santa Clara University (3-3), taking place at 1 p.m. The following morning the Wildcats face a formidable opponent in No. 46 Louisiana Lafayette (2-2). The match begins at 9 a.m. Both contests will be held at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center.
Last week: The Wildcats traveled to Albuquerque, N.M. to take on No. 63 Nebraska and No. 65 New Mexico. In the first match, Arizona won the doubles point but Nebraska battled back to even the score at three-apiece. The match came down to Jason Labrosse against Mark Tate at the No. 5 position. In his first match of the year, Labrosse captured the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6(4). The second set reached a tiebreaker as well, this time won by Tate 7-6(3). The two intense sets, in addition to an earlier doubles match, took its toll on Labrosse. Tate took the final set 6-0, securing the victory for Nebraska. Two days prior to facing Arizona, New Mexico upset Nebraska 5-2. The Lobos enjoyed similar success against the Wildcats, coming away with a 6-1 win. The win boosted New Mexico eight spots in the ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings.
Against Santa Clara: The Wildcats and the Broncos have only met two times on the court prior to their meeting on Saturday. Both matches were won by Arizona.
Scouting the Broncos: The Santa Clara University men’s tennis team began its season impressively with a 4-1 upset over the No. 7 team in the nation, UC Santa Cruz. Since then, the Broncos have gone 2-3, capped off by a recent 6-1 victory over No. 48 UC Irvine. With all three of their losses coming against top 25 opponents, the Broncos are surely a stronger team than their current ranking of No. 75 may indicate. This is the first time Santa Clara has been ranked since the 2002 season.
Against Louisiana Lafayette: This will be the first time Arizona and Louisiana Lafayette have met on the tennis court.
Scouting the Ragin’ Cajuns: Due to inconsistency in the strength of their opponents, it is difficult to judge Louisiana Lafayette this early in the spring season. Their two wins have been lop-sided victories over unranked opponents while their losses came against two teams ranked in the top twenty. In addition, no single player has consistently filled in at the No. 1 position for them. They began the spring season with a preseason ranking of No. 47 and currently they reside at No. 46. “They’re a solid team. It’s a perfect match for us to play before we head into the Pac-10,” said head coach Tad Berkowitz.
Wildcats in the Rankings: The Wildcats fell 11 spots in the FILA Collegiate Tennis Rankings this week to No. 72, down from their preseason position of No. 61. Junior Claudio Christen is the only ranked singles player for Arizona at No. 86.
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. 3. Washington is next at No. 17 with Cal-Berkeley and Stanford not far behind at No.25 and No. 27, respectively. Arizona State is No. 57, slightly ahead of the No. 72 Wildcats. Oregon is currently the only Pac-10 team not ranked, but finished last season at No. 70.
Next Week: The Wildcats head to California to face two of the nation’s elite teams. On Friday, Feb. 23, Arizona squares off against No. 25 Cal-Berkeley at 1:30 p.m. The next day, Arizona travels to face No. 27 Stanford. The match will take place at the Taube Tennis Center in Palo Alto, Calif. and is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.