BYU men’s tennis aiming to improve on last season

Ari Davis
Keaton Cullimore drills a backhand against Weber State. Cullimore is one of four seniors on the roster. (Ari Davis)

The 2015-16 season ended for the BYU men’s tennis team with a disappointing loss to Pepperdine in the West Coast Conference semifinals. But the Cougars are convinced this is the year to claim the WCC title, and the team has a roster full of seniors to help make that goal a reality.

The Cougars’ four seniors — Jeremy Bourgeois, Aidan Carrazedo, Keaton Cullimore and Jacob Sullivan — are looking to lead the way.

“I’m really looking forward to playing with the boys for the last season… Jake and Aidan were freshmen with me,” Bourgeois said. “I’m looking forward to going out with a bang.”

Bourgeois will be playing the No. 1 singles seed, followed by Cullimore at No. 2. with Sullivan and junior John Pearce as the No. 1 doubles team. Bourgeois and Cullimore have also been named team captains, along with Pearce.

“We have four seniors and I think we are kind of hungry to get (the WCC title) before we leave,” Cullimore said.

Aside from the four seniors, the team also has a handful of new players. Cousins Derek and Garret Vincent are freshmen on the team, along with Sam Tullis who recently returned from his LDS mission in Costa Rica.

In addition to the team’s goal of winning the WCC title, the men’s tennis team is looking forward to its conference matches, especially with in-state rival Utah.

“We have a goal every year that we want to beat Utah,” coach Brad Pearce said.

Brad Pearce and his son John both talked about the team’s goals to compete hard and break the school record for team wins. John Pearce is a junior on the team.

John Pearce said the team wants to go undefeated this season. It’s a lofty and likely unattainable goal, but Brad Pearce said it’s something the team is striving for.

“I think the record is 21 team wins,” Brad Pearce said. “That’s a stretch goal, but that’s something we are taking seriously.”

The Cougars currently have two wins under their belt, but fell to No. 18 Stanford, Harvard and Cornell, moving their record to 2-1.

Brad Pearce has had at least one son on the roster for the past three years. Now, both sons are back and competing on the same team. John returned from his mission to Peru for the start of the 2015-16 season and his younger brother Matthew returned from his mission to Taiwan for the start of the 2016-17 season.

The Cougars spent much of the fall in strength and conditioning programs preparing for the season.

“We hope that we can be injury free and that the conditioning work they did during the fall will carry them through the season,” Brad Pearce said.

John Pearce said there is no offseason for college sports because they practice every day, but the team’s preparation and mindset has changed now that they are preparing for actual opponents.

“The difference between the season and the offseason is that we are getting ready for a match… instead of really developing skills and fixing major issues,” John Pearce said.

This season, the team also added new assistant coach Matt Cowley who played tennis for the University of Utah and graduated in 2016.

The Cougars will host Denver on Friday, Feb. 3 in the indoor tennis courts at 5:30 p.m.

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