This Week for the Wildcats: The University of Arizona men’s tennis team travels to Los Angeles, Calif. this week as they take on No. 9 USC (16-1) and No. 11 UCLA (13-3). Both matches are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. and will take place on consecutive days beginning April 6. Arizona is currently 5-12 overall and 0-2 in Pac-10 play.
Last week: The Wildcats had their hands full last week as they took on two ranked conference opponents at home. On Friday, March 30 Stanford escaped with a narrow 4-3 win. After dropping the doubles point, Arizona’s Jason Labrosse evened the dual at one-apiece. Stanford’s Blake Muller then defeated freshman Ravid Hezi 6-4, 6-4. Peter Zimmer and Claudio Christen tried to get the Wildcats back in it, but depite holding minimal leads, were unable to surmount their opponents. Bruno Alcala and Alex Labrosse each won their matches to end the dual at 4-3. The next day, Arizona came out on fire as they swept through doubles for the first time since Jan. 20. Claudio Christen then upset Cal’s No. 20 Pierre Mouillon 6-0, 6-1 before Berkeley fought back to win three of the next four matches. With the dual tied at three, Hezi was forced to retire against Ken Nakahara after suffering a sprained ankle, giving Cal a 4-3 win.
Against USC: Arizona and USC faced off earlier this season in Tucson on March 17. Despite a 6-1 loss, the Wildcats were competitive from top to bottom, including and upset by Christen against USC’s No. 42 Dejan Cvetkovic. “We had an opportunity in four of the six singles matches to take the first set, but we were only able to come away with one,” said Arizona assistant coach Tom Lloyd. “Still, all the guys played hard.”
Scouting the Trojans: No. 9 USC ended last season ranked No. 54, and came into this spring at No. 43. After winning their first eleven matches, they quickly climbed the rankings, including a 28-spot jump between Jan. 30 and Feb. 6. At the time they played Arizona, USC was enjoying its highest ranking of the season at No. 4. They suffered their first, and only, loss on March 14 against No. 1 Georgia. Since then USC has won its last five, losing only three points total over that span.
Against UCLA: In their last outing, the Bruins defeated the Wildcats 7-0. The dual, however, was much closer than the sweep may indicate. “You can tell by the match scores that the no one got killed, every set was decided by one break of serve or a tiebreaker,” said Lloyd. “In the end, things just didn’t go our way. Arizona has never defeated UCLA on the tennis court.
Scouting the Bruins: UCLA began the season ranked No. 4 and have gradually slid to their current position at No. 11. The Bruins are currently enjoying a four-match win streak and have not lost to an opponent outside of the top-10 this season. UCLA is led by preseason No.1, and current No.5, Benjamin Kohlloeffel. Their No. 13 doubles tandem of Kohlloeffel and Philipp Gruendler are a perfect 17-0 this season.
Wildcats in the Rankings: The Wildcats have maintained there spot in the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings as they remain in a tie at No. 75. Claudio Christen is Arizona’s only ranked singles player at No. 123.
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 USC ranks the highest among Pac-10 teams at No. 9. Perennial powerhouse UCLA is not far behind at No. 11, with Washington next at No. 30. Cal-Berkeley and Arizona State are at No. 48 and No. 54, respectively. Stanford is No. 55, slightly ahead of the No. 75 Arizona Wildcats. Oregon is currently the only Pac-10 men’s tennis team not ranked.
Next Week: Arizona men’s tennis heads to the northwest as they continue conference play. On Friday, April 13, the Wildcats will be in Eugene, Ore. as they take on the Oregon Ducks. That upcoming Sunday they will be in Seattle, Wash. to play the University of Washington. The matches are scheduled to begin at 1:30 and 1 p.m.