April 12, 2013
The Arizona men's tennis team is among those representing one of the most competitive conferences in the country. Although they began Pac-12 play with challenging opponents, the team is looking forward to finishing the season on a high note with three more conference opponents before Pac-12 Championships.
"The Pac-12 conference is strong," Andre Vidaller said. "It's one of the best conferences in the nation, if not the best. It has the best players in the world, and it's extremely competitive. That's why most of us make the decision to come here. "
Despite the rough start, the team has continued to look forward, one match at a time.
"It's been a tough start to the conference but I think there have been a lot of positives out of it," Kieren Thompson said. "All of the guys are playing well. We just need to push forward and move on so we can finish off the season on a good note."
Head coach Tad Berkowitz agrees that there is still much to look forward to.
"The Washington match to open up the conference was a tight 4-3 loss which we had put ourselves in the position to win, and our guys saw that," Berkowitz said. "As we continue on with conference, we are going in with a mindset that we are going to go in and beat these teams. We need to be ready week in and week out. The one thing our guys do a good job with is that they never give up, always fighting and competing."
Moving forward, the team is dedicated to ensuring a positive end to the regular season regardless of wins or losses.
"It's part of the sport to win and lose," Vidaller said. "You're not going to win everyday. Each of us has been playing this sport for close to 15 years, so we know that we won't win every match. What motivates us is that our chemistry is so strong and we are excited going into practice and competing as a team each and every day."
For many teams, it may be difficult to move forward but this team continues to motivate one another each practice. With back-to-back matches this coming weekend, there is nothing short of intensity and the desire to improve.
"It's tough coming out training day in and day out after losing our first four conference matches, but everyone is still motivated to do well towards the end of the season," Thompson said. "We want to finish off on a good note with Stanford and Cal coming up. Everyone is still out here trying to improve."
Thompson has been among the most consistent players this season, contributing multiple wins against both non-conference and conference opponents.
"He played one of the best players in the country last week (UCLA) and went toe-for-toe with him and almost came out with the win," Berkowitz said. "He's a great example both on and off the court. He motivates the guys and pumps them up. He's been great for us this year."
Thompson sees the drive his team has as they enter the end of their season. With the remainder of the season quickly nearing, he continues to motivate his team through his own ability to move forward.
"I think everyone just needs to stay mentally tough," Thompson said. "We've got the talent on the team. Everyone is good enough to win these matches. We just have to stay in the matches, stay strong and keep fighting."
As the team heads into three road trips to end the regular season, the team has high hopes for what is to come with Pac-12 Championships.
"Our next three matches are on the road," Berkowitz said. "Those are always a little tougher. Leading into the Pac-12 Championships, I tell the guys to come everyday with the same fight and same attitude and the wins will come. Obviously, competing against the same teams that we've already faced in conference is going to help us. It's up to us to game plan and prepare to do the best that we can."
Men's tennis travels to the Bay Area for a pair of conference matches this Friday to meet Stanford and then California, on Saturday. Pac-12 Championships are set to begin April 24 in Ojai, Calif. following their final match against Utah.