The BYU men’s tennis team takes on in-state rival, the University of Utah, Wednesday at Eccles Tennis Center in Salt Lake City.
BYU coach Brad Pearce said his team, despite losing, played well against Stanford and is coming into the rivalry match confident and excited to compete.
“We love rivalry matches,” Pearce said. “It’s something to get excited about above and beyond your everyday matches. It’s important to us and we’re just going to go out and continue the same processes that we’ve been doing to be prepared for every match a little bit more.”
Junior Spencer Smith from Salt Lake City grew up watching tennis matches at Utah and knows it’s not just one match on the line on Wednesday. The team will be competing in the Deseret First Duel between BYU and Utah, which BYU currently leads this year, 25-13.
“The matches are always tough and intense and a lot of fun because it’s such a big rivalry,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of pressure on the line. Also we’re playing for our school because [of the duel] … so we help our school by winning this match.”
Freshman Keaton Cullimore from Sandy grew up a BYU fan and is looking forward to an intense rivalry match.
“I’m excited because it’s always a good feeling beating the U,” Cullimore said. “But I’m a little nervous because I’ve never participated in a rivalry match this big, but I know that we can beat them.”
With the match on Wednesday the team will have a shorter practice week than they’ve been accustomed to, and will only have one day between matches because it will play Nevada on Friday.
Pearce said the team is aware of the quick turnaround this week and planned accordingly for both matches.
“The back to back isn’t going to catch us by surprise,” Pearce said. “We’ve been preparing for it and trying to manage it in what I think is a smart way in terms of preparation and not asking too much of our guys, so I think we should have fresh legs for both matches.”
Cullimore and Smith are confident they are well prepared and won’t be affected by short times between matches.
“We practice enough to be ready to play on any day,” Smith said. “I know I’m excited to play on Wednesday.
The Cougars and Utes face off at 5 p.m in Salt Lake City. Friday’s match against Nevada will begin at 5:30 p.m. on the indoor tennis courts with free admission and pizza.