Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
2011 Men's Tennis Season Outlook
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: January 18, 2011
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 18, 2011

TUCSON - Heading into the 2011 season, the Wildcats are without three seniors, who helped lead the team to the NCAA tournament for their eighth time and a fifth place tie in the challenging Pac-10 conference.  The team finished the season with a 13-11 record overall including a 2-4 finish in the Pac-10. This season's team will rely on its depth and experience from its four seniors, along with a talented freshmen class.


Last season the Wildcats finished the season ranked No. 31 in the ITA rankings, their highest ranking coming in during the first week of match competition at No. 23 and they held that spot for three weeks.  The team also made history on April 11 in Tucson when they topped then No. 10 UCLA 4-3 for the first time in 70 attempts.


This season the Wildcats will swing into their season ranked No. 32 in the ITA rankings.  Head Coach Tad Berkowitz enters his sixth season as head coach along with seven returners.  The Wildcats also add five highly-touted freshmen to their roster and will look to them to make a mark in the challenging Pac-10 conference which holds 50 NCAA Men's Team Titles.


"We return a big nucleus of guys who all played in the lineup last year," Berkowitz said. "Jay Goldman, Geoff Embry, Borja Malo and Andres Carrasco all played a huge part of our team success last year. We will look to them for leadership and guidance to help us carry through to reach our goals."


The team will depend heavily on their four seniors: Andres Carrasco who received a No. 16 spot in the Southwest Regional rankings, Geoff Embry, Jay Goldman and Borja Malo, along with junior Jason Zafiros who was the lone Wildcat ranked in the top 100 of the ITA Preseason Rankings at 107. Zafiros finished the 2009-10 season with a 22-15 singles record and an impressive 22-4 record as a freshman.


"Jason is a fierce competitor and our entire team feeds off his energy," Berkowitz said.  "Last year he proved that he can win playing high in the lineup and we look for the same from him this year."          


This season, the Wildcats will all be competing to fill in the top of the lineup. Most notably, the Wildcat's will need to fill the void left by Andres Arango who played in the top two spots 17 out of the Wildcats' 24 matches. The team will also be without First Team Pac-10 All-Academic recipient Ravid Hazi, who finished with a 13-10 singles record and was a consistent doubles player. The Wildcats will also need to step up in doubles action with the loss of Pat Metham who teamed up with Borja Malo in the No. 1 spot last year recording an 8-9 doubles record.


Along with the seniors and Zafiros, the Wildcats also return redshirt sophomore Tom Wolff and sophomore Frank Chen, who will be depended on for their experience on the court. 


The team also brings in five freshmen, including top 20 junior's player Giacomo Miccini (Recanati, Italy). Along with Miccini, the Wildcat's add Sam Barr (Whakatane, New Zealand), Kieren Thompson (Melbourne, Victoria,Australia), Andre Vidaller (Santos, Brazil, Brazil) and Mario Urquidi (El Paso, Texas), to help the Wildcats both in singles and in doubles action. Urquidi, joined the team in the fall and competed in three tournaments, compiling a 5-6 fall single's record, including a first place finish in his first tournament as a Wildcat at the NMSU Aggie Invitational.


"We are really excited about our freshmen class," Berkowitz said.  "These guys are all tremendous players. Giacomo Miccini is one of the top players in the world. He's probably one of the best recruits we have ever had here at Arizona.  Along with our other four guys, Andre Vidaller, Sam Barr, Kieren Thompson, and Mario Urquidi, they are all going to be coming in and making an immediate impact as freshmen. They all have a lot of experience playing worldwide and they are our future. They are going to be the guys that are going to be with us for four years keeping our program rolling."


As always the Wildcats are faced with a challenging schedule. 14 of the 20 teams that the Wildcats play are ranked in the ITA top 75 rankings to start the season, including five of the six teams in the Pac-10.


"We have been fortunate again to have a great schedule," Berkowitz said.  "Obviously the Pac-10 is the toughest conference in the country. USC won the national championship last year and they've won the national championship the past two years. We have them, Stanford, UCLA and USC. These are all perennial top ten teams every single year. Along with our nonconference schedule, we play several teams that made the NCAA tournament last year, teams like Oklahoma, Denver, and Indiana."


Once again the team will compete in the ITA National Indoors, with an opening match against the University of Miami.  The Wildcats have also been invited to the Blue and Gray Tennis Classic for their second year in a row. Last season Arizona fell to then No. 17 Oklahoma in the semifinals.  


"Only eight teams in the country are invited to the Blue and Gray Tennis Classic tournament, so that's something that is a huge part of our schedule," Berkowitz said.  "It gives us a chance to play some of the top teams, not only in our region, but nationally."


The Wildcats will host 12 of their 20 matches at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center, but will have a tough Pac-10 schedule as four of their six matches are on the road. The Wildcats will host Cal and Stanford before heading on the road for their final four matches of the season. Last season the Wildcats finished 8-4 at home and 2-4 on the road, while finishing 3-3 at neutral sites.


Andres Carrasco On the Season:






Bear Down Challenge M Ten