Both BYU tennis teams will compete against Gonzaga and Portland this weekend; the men at home, and the women in Washington and Oregon.
The men return to Utah after being away for six matches. After losing to Santa Clara two weeks ago and San Diego last week, the Cougars must put away their next conference matches to make a strong run at being the West Coast Conference champions.
“[Santa Clara and San Diego] are not only good conference opponents, they’re highly ranked national teams, so we’d like the opportunity to see them again,” BYU coach Brad Pearce said. “But it is important for us to take care of Gonzaga and Portland here at home. I think that will get us back in striking distance through the rest of the West Coast Conference season.”
Senior Michael Eraso said the team needs just one good win over a high-ranked team to put it back higher in the conference.
The Bulldogs (8-7) and Cougars (11-7) both come into Friday’s match off losses to San Diego.
The Cougars face a tough Portland team on Saturday. The Pilots (11-4) didn’t drop a single match at the beginning of season until March, winning seven straight. They come into Saturday’s match off a recent loss to the No. 56 Oregon team.
The Cougars said it’s going to be great being back at home and likes their chances to win both matches this weekend.
“We’re super pumped,” Eraso said. “We’ve been playing a lot of matches in California and we’ve had really close, heartbreaking losses down there. We hope to remedy that by bringing in our home crowd and playing in our element up here.”
The men’s team plays the Bulldogs at 11 a.m. Friday on the outdoor tennis courts, and Saturday’s match with Portland begins at 10:30 a.m. Admission is free and pizza will be provided for fans.
The women’s team will play in Spokane at 10 a.m. PST on Friday, then travel to Portland to play Saturday at 11 a.m PST.
The BYU women’s tennis team will finish its season on the road, first traveling to the Pacific Northwest this weekend.
“It’s been a long season and we’ve traveled a lot,” sophomore Desiree Tran said. “But it’s at the end and we’re ready to give all we’ve got.”
BYU coach Lauren Jones-Spencer said the team is ready to return to the road and playing on the road won’t change the way the team approaches each match.
Coming off a tough and close loss to top-ranked St. Mary’s, the Cougars (5-12) are looking for a win and putting in the necessary work.
“We’re practicing really hard so that our matches are easier,” Jones-Spencer said. “We’re working on a few key things that will help us close out our matches in the future.”
This weekend’s matches with Gonzaga (7-5) and Portland (4-11) figure to be close and the players know they will need to come out strong.
“They’re good,” Tran said. “We don’t want to underestimate them or slow it down. We’re going to play our game every time and keep focusing on what we want to do.”
Portland and Gonzaga played last week and the Bulldogs came away with a 5-2 win. This broke a three-match losing streak, and helped extend Portland’s to six.