Toward the end of each season, every sports team feels a sense of urgency to perform to the best of its ability and finish strong. This week, the BYU men’s and women’s tennis teams gear up for just that, the final tournaments of the preseason.
The men’s team heads down to the sunny beaches of California for the Southern California Intercollegiate Championships to face opponents from UCLA, UC San Diego, USC, UC Santa Barbara, Azusa Pacific University, Pepperdine, UC Riverside, Loyola Marymount University and Concordia.
“We have high hopes going into this tournament,” BYU freshman David Doehring said. “We’re excited to play at UCLA.”
Doehring, a native of southern California, came to BYU never having played in a high school tennis match but spent his time competing in junior tournaments to prepare him to compete at the college level.
“I have been home schooled since middle school,” he said. “I traveled around and played the junior tournaments. I noticed even in the first round of the tournaments, everyone is at a high level. There are no gimmes. You’re not just playing guys 18 and under, but you are playing guys that could be up to 25 or 26.”
This tournament, like many of the others the Cougars have participated in, brings together many top players. USC and UCLA claimed the first to fourth seeded positions with BYU’s own Georgy Batrakov coming in as No. 5.
Even though the team has played well and advanced far in many of the tournaments, players feel they could have performed better. They hope this tournament will allow them to finish as they know they can.
The women’s team is staying close to home, heading to Salt Lake City to compete against in-state rival Utah in the Utah Invitational. The other schools BYU will compete against are Boise State, LSU, Wyoming and Idaho State.
With all sports at BYU, the women’s tennis team has set specific goals to beat out Utah, no matter what. And BYU may have caught a break since two of Utah’s top players, senior Anastasia Putilina and former BYU player, sophomore Callie Craig, are headed to another tournament.
“I was looking forward to playing against her in doubles,” senior Megan Price said. “She was my doubles partner last year and I was excited to play her. I know that she’s feisty and she will play full out. I was a little bummed when I found out, but that’s the way it goes.”
Regardless of Craig’s absence from the tournament, team members are excited to play against Utah and other great teams from surrounding states.
“It will be exciting just because it is the last tournament,” BYU junior Aubrey Paul said. “It will be motivation to finish on a good note, going out and proving to ourselves and others that we can play.”
The men’s and women’s teams will resume play following the holiday season against Utah State (Jan. 13) and Long Beach State (Feb. 3), respectively.