Men’s Tennis Takes on BYU

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The U men’s tennis team is undefeated at home. It has a perfect 7-0 record in Salt Lake City, and hopes to take advantage of that when it hosts three straight Mountain West Conference foes this week.

At 12-8, 1-1 MWC, the Utes will not exactly be on their home courts, though, when they host BYU, San Diego State and UNLV this week at the Canyon Racquet Club near Big Cottonwood Canyon.a

“We’d love to stay undefeated [at home],” said U coach F.D. Robbins. “We don’t really call the Canyon Racquet Club home. It’s like playing home matches away, basically.”

The Utes are required to play in outdoor venues for conference competition. And although they are thrilled to be playing in the valley, not playing at the Eccles Tennis Center?the Utes’ normal home?could cause some problems for them.

“It’s not like playing on courts that you practice outside on every single match,” Robbins said. “It’s really not a home court advantage to play up here by any sense of the imagination.”

The Utes have been able to practice at the Canyon Racquet Club only five times, and the only other time they have seen those courts was at the MWC Championships last year.

But, that’s what the Utes have to deal with against powerful conference teams BYU, San Diego State and UNLV.

All three opponents are ranked. BYU is No. 75 in the nation, UNLV comes in at No. 54 in the country, and San Diego State is the highest-ranked team in the conference at No. 32.

In-state rival BYU is up first today, and along with their No. 75 ranking, the Cougs bring in an 11-7 record, 2-0 MWC, and a three-game winning streak.

“They have a really strong team,” Robbins said. “We’re going to have to play one of our better matches as a team to beat them.”

They also bring a very tough team, including a No. 16 doubles pair, in Carlos Lozano and Gert Vilms. The Utes will try to counter with their own ranked pair, David Mercier and Nik Yip, who are 40th in the country as a tandem.

Then again, Mercier, the U’s No. 1 singles player, may not play because of a lingering arm injury and an illness on top of it, and his status is considered day-to-day. If he cannot go, senior Corrie Scheepers will take over the No. 1 spot for the Utes.

“He’s been kind of sick, so we’re just going to see,” Robbins said. “We’re just going to have to roll with him, with his arm deal.”

Nevertheless, the Utes are excited to be in conference play and at home, if it can be called that.

“I think we have a chance to beat all three teams if everybody puts together a good match,” Robbins said. “We’ll just have to see. We’re ready. Everybody’s excited.”

All three matches begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Canyon Racquet Club, located at 7350 S. Wasatch Blvd.

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