By Daniel Singer
The BYU men”s tennis season kicks off Thursday Jan. 23 as they head to Los Angeles to play against three tough opponents in three days.
The team will play Loyola Marymount on Thursday, UC Irvine on Friday and seventh ranked USC on Saturday.
But don”t expect the Cougars to be intimidated.
“We want to kick their butts and get out,” senior Anton Rudjuk said. “But with any team, especially California teams, you have to come out firing on all four cylinders.”
With the daunting task of facing quality opponents in a short period of time, the team is stressing the importance of staying focused and playing its own style of tennis.
“You have to take one match at a time,” Rudjuk said. “You have to treat each team like they are the number one team in the country.”
These non-conference matches will be a good barometer of the Cougars” chances this year.
All three opponents feature one or more nationally-ranked players.
Thursday”s match will feature a singles showdown between two nationally-ranked players, Carlos Lozano of BYU and Tigran Matirosyan of Loyola Marymount.
The two will face each other again later in the day, this time in a doubles match of two nationally-ranked titans.
Lozano will be joined by his partner Eric Nyman.
Nyman and Lozano are ranked seventh in the country.
Loyola Marymount”s Matirosyan and his teammate Johannes Asuja are ranked 54th in the country.
The dynamic duo of Nyman and Lozano won”t be able to rest on their heels in their Friday match against UC. Irvine.
They will face another nationally-ranked doubles team, Brian Morton and Jonathan Endikrat.
Morton and Endikrat are ranked 11th in the nation and should be an evenly-matched opponent.
The biggest challenge for the 64th ranked BYU team will come from USC.
The Trojans are ranked seventh in the country and are expected to do well again this year.
“Southern California is always ranked in the top ten,” Coach Jim Osborne said. “They will be a tough team to beat.”
Although USC features only one nationally-ranked player, Johan Berg, the team has a lot of depth though.
Two members of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association thought enough of the Trojan”s talent to vote them as being the top team in the country.
However, the Cougars are not intimidated by USC”s ranking and reputation as a top tennis team.
“I have always done very well against USC,” Lozano said.
The matches will be a good tuneup for the Cougars who will return to Provo on Saturday.
The team will get a brief rest before starting the Mountain West Conference on Jan. 30 against New Mexico State.
This match, which starts at 5 p.m., will be one of only seven home matches for the Cougars this year.