Tucson, Ariz. – No. 2 USC and No. 3 UCLA come to Tucson this weekend, as the Wildcats host the Trojans Friday, Apr. 11 at 1 p.m. and the Bruins Sunday, Apr. 13 at 12 p.m.
“All the guys come to Arizona for the opportunity to play in the Pac-12 and compete against the best,” head coach Tad Berkowitz said. “It’s our time to show it and see what we have against two of the best teams in the country.”
Senior Mario Urquidi has led the Wildcats of recent, wrapping up last weekend with a team-best 2-0 record. Urquidi beat Washington’s Jeff Hawke 6-4, 6-2 and Oregon’s Daniel Sardu 6-3, 6-4.
A quick glimpse at the schedule wouldn’t show it, but Arizona could easily have three wins in the conference so far, with several matches coming down to the wire.
“The Stanford, Washington, and Oregon matches were all battles,” Berkowitz said. “We’re working our tails off and we’re putting ourselves in position to win.”
Much credit is due towards sophomore Naoki Takeda, who is continuing his impressive season, currently at 15-4 on the year.
“I’ve been ready to play every match. I’m eating well, drinking well, and sleeping well to prepare,” Naoki Takeda said. I practice hard and my experience is coming through.”
Another bright light for the Cats has been Will Kneale, who as a freshman has stepped into the lineup seamlessly to earn himself matches against the conference’s best.
“Arron [Spencer] and Tad haven’t put a lot of pressure on me,” said Kneale. “Every week is an improvement and I’m getting stronger week by week.”
UCLA is 17-2 on the year, with their only two losses coming against Baylor and USC. The Trojans boast a 22-2 record, only being defeated by UCLA and No. 1 Ohio State.
For Arizona, the key is within the team this weekend as they try to take down the pair of Goliaths.
“We have to get behind each other,” said Kneale. “With the heat and high altitude the balls will be flying, so anything can happen.”
Adds Takeda, “We have to play normal. We can’t overplay and we have to trust our game.”
For continued coverage of Arizona men’s tennis, visit ArizonaWildcats.com, follow @ArizonaMTennis on Twitter and Instagram, and on Facebook at facebook.com/ArizonaMensTennis.