Tennis heads to California for back-to-back matches


The men’s tennis team heads to California to take on the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos and the No. 9 UCLA Bruins on Thursday and Friday.

The Cougars are confident their routines and hard work will lead them to success on the road.

Sophomore Patrick Kawka, ranked no. 106 in the country, said the team is focusing on point play and preparing themselves to be at a solid level rather than trying to focus on both opponents.

“It’s always tough playing one after the other,” Kawka said. “But all the guys on the team are at a level where we can change tactics right before matches so we don’t have to change our routines during practice.”

Junior Spencer Smith said the team stays focused on its matches by preparing the same way, regardless of who they play and where they play.

BYU is familiar with both teams. The last time BYU and Santa Barbara met, BYU came away with a 4-1 win.

BYU coach Brad Pearce and the team knows, however, Santa Barbara is not to be underestimated and they must quickly adjust to playing outside and at a much lower altitude, both of which affect the flight of the ball and speed of play.

“Santa Barbara is a well-coached team, they have great talent,” Pearce said. “They’re feisty, so we’re expecting a battle. We’ve had an edge over them, but that’s not something we take for granted.”

Smith said he thinks it’s a good idea to get the team to California early in the season to get used to the playing conditions and he is glad to be playing Santa Barbara first.

“They’re not as tough as UCLA. They’re tough, but the next day we’ll be more adjusted to California,” Smith said.

Kawka said the Cougars matchup well with both teams and he is looking forward to the competition later this week.

“UCSB is always tough and obviously UCLA is always in the top 15 so they’re going to be really tough,” Kawka said. “I think it’s exciting that we get a shot at both of these teams and we have a good shot at both.”

UCLA is a top-ranked team and has the third-most national championship titles with 16, winning the last in 2005 over Baylor. UCLA also has three top-ranked players — No. 72 Clay Thompson, No. 86 Marcos Giron and No. 94 Adrien Puget.

“They’re one of the all-time great perennial programs,” Pearce said. “We play them every year, which is a great opportunity for our guys, because we like playing the elite teams. We feel like we can be competitive this year. We’ll be well prepared.”

The Cougars face off against the Gauchos Thursday at 1 p.m. PST and the Bruins Friday at 2 p.m. PST.

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