As the new year is upon us, so too are the men’s and women’s tennis seasons.
Both coach Roeland Brateanu and coach Mat Iandolo have their respective teams playing non-conference matches this coming week. The men’s team faces their arch rival BYU in Provo, with the women’s team traveling to sunny Newport Beach, California to compete with Texas A&M.
Both teams look to kick off the new year with wins against quality non-conference opponents, priming the respective squads for great success in the grueling Pac-12 conference.
The Men’s squad will look to capitalize on their superior experience, relying on the veteran based core of Dan Little, Joe Wooley and Slava Shainyan. BYU has many members on the team who have returned from missions, and they are more inexperienced in dealing with the pressure of big collegiate matches.
Coach Brateanu and the Utah team looks to continue to bolster their statement of being the best team in the state, aiming to defeat coach Brad Pearce and his Cougars. Brad Pearce was a professional player in his own right, coaching two of his sons, one on the current roster.
Matthew Pearce is a senior who took his church mission to Taiwan after his freshman season. Now, in his final year, Pearce figures to spearhead the BYU team, especially in the doubles department where he sported a 13-8 record the year prior. Junior Sean Hill, who defeated Utah’s top player a year ago, was ranked 19th in doubles with Jeffrey Hsu’s return. Last year, Hill defeated David Micevski, looking formidable as an adversary to the likes of one of Utah’s team captains, the talented senior from Great Britain, Dan Little. Little played and defeated Hsu in singles a year ago and looks to maintain his success against BYU. Returning players on the Utah squad who competed against returning BYU players last year were Little, Woolley and Randy Cory as well as Micevski. Little and Wooley aspire to duplicate their victories, while Cory and Micevski look to redeem themselves and topple their respective BYU opponents.
This matchup also provides a good measuring stick for a hungry Utah team. This matchup, the first match of the season for the Utes, should indicate where they are as a team, facing elite competition in the Pac-12 and solid competition with the added incentive of beating a rival on the road.
The Utes women’s team is led by senior captain Brianna Chisholm, and four freshmen — Lindsay Hung, Madison Tattini, Anya Lamoreaux and Emily Dush. Coach Iandolo will sport a lineup with experienced and talented veterans, such as Chisholm, as well as senior Taylor Calton and junior Whitney Hekking.
Additionally, Iandolo has a luxury of riches, with newcomers other than the fabulous freshman quartet. These include redshirts from a season ago, all-American at BYU-Hawaii Leah Heimuli and local redshirt freshman Jasmine Rich, out of East High School.
Texas A&M features Riley McQuaid and Jayci Goldsmith. The Aggies sports one of the youngest rosters in America with no one older than a Sophomore. Riley McQuaid, formerly a number one in America for her recruiting class, headlines this youthful and talented team. This meshing of talent and youth should provide the lady Utes a test of their cohesive abilities as a young team with an even younger opponent. Many of the matchups to come will be rematches from USTA high level tournaments as the Utes and Aggies both feature multiple top 100 recruits in their freshman class.
Youth on hand, the Utes will look to lean on their veteran players and follow their example in order to get 2019 off to a great start. A litmus test in both team proficiency and maturity, coach Iandolo has the tough task of interpreting what each match means for his supremely talented squad and how to configure the lineups in the season to come.