By PAUL WELLING
Performing well at the WAC tournament April 23 would have greatly increased the BYU men’s tennis team’s chances of receiving and invitation to the NCAA Regional tournament.
However, the Cougars ended their season in Tulsa, Okla., on a sad note after losing a hard-fought match against San Diego State in the second round of the Western Athletic Conference championships.
Even after the loss, the team had high hopes of receiving an invitation to play at regionals on May 15-17.
But because the region only selected six teams instead of eight as was expected, the invitation never came.
“I was pretty positive that we were going to make it — but we didn’t,” said head coach Jim Osborne. “It’s a little disappointing.”
Osborne said whether six teams or eight teams from a region are selected to compete depends on the strength of the region.
The WAC tournament began well for BYU as it beat Rice University 4-2 in the first round. Brad McIntosh, Jeff Harbach and Nick Losee all won at singles, with Harbach narrowly winning his second set 7-6, 7-5 in the tiebreaker.
The doubles teams came through strong for BYU with a sweep of all three matches, beating Rice 8-4 and 8-5, with the No. 2 doubles match being abandoned.
In the second round, No. 2 seed SDSU came out playing tough and won the first two singles matches. SDSU went on to beat the Cougars 4-1.
“The score was a lot closer than it looks,” Osborne said. “It was a close battle that could of gone either way. We just missed some easy shots that really hurt us.
“They’re good kids. It was a good season and its a shame that its over this quickly.”
Osborne said he has high hopes for next year’s team.
“We have a young team this year,” he said. “We have very good depth and we’re losing only two seniors. Hopefully the youngsters will learn from the departing seniors and step up and fill their shoes.”
During the summer, some players will look for opportunities to play in tournaments. Others will stick around and work in BYU’s tennis camp, Osborne said.