Tennis teams healthy, ready to compete

By Matt Sanchez, Staff Writer

Women’s tennis

After an injury-plagued 2008-2009 season that ended in a loss to TCU in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference Championships, the Utah tennis team will now look to remain healthy in order to contend for this year’s conference championship.

“It was a pretty good year, but it could have been better had we been completely healthy,” said head coach Mat Iandolo. “I expect us to be much better this next season.”
Perhaps the team underachieved last season, but coming into the 2009-2010 campaign, the team will bring back its three best players and add a star freshman to the mix.

Seniors Erin Monson and Andrea Maughan as well as sophomore Anastasia Putilina were recognized by the MWC for their exceptional play last season, and each made the All-Conference team. The three will be counted on to set the tone for the rest of the team and to lead by example on and off the court.

In addition to their stellar leaders, the Utes have signed Paige Miles out of Juan Diego Catholic High School to add to the team’s depth.

Miles is a four-time Utah state 3A singles champ and the top recruit in the region. Miles also remained undefeated against high school competition, ending with a perfect 72-0 record.

“I am very excited and anxious to start playing,” Miles said. “I like all the girls and am looking forward to being on a team with them. I am also very excited to have Mat as a coach.”

Since Iandolo took over before the 2007-2008 season, the team has gained a reputation for having a quality program and has remained nationally ranked every week since he has been the coach.

“It’s nice to be considered a threat,” Iandolo said. “We have raised the level of the program and it feels good to be looked at as (a) tough team.”

He said he believes the team will compete for the MWC title and fully expects the players to make it to the NCAA Championships.

Men’s tennis

The men’s tennis team finished last season as No. 54 in the nation and had a mark of 16-9 before losing in the MWC Championships to UNLV.

“Last season was a good one for us and I was proud of our players,” said head coach F.D. Robbins. “We won a lot of close matches and that doesn’t always happen.”

The team has high expectations for the 2009-2010 season, as all but one player will be back.

“It all starts with conditioning and being ready to play when the season rolls around,” Robbins said. “Most of our players are not here during the summer, so we give everyone strength and conditioning programs when they leave and as soon as they get back, we hit it hard.”

The team will be led by senior Phillip Eilers, who was a member of the All-MWC Team. The native of Germany is a standout in both singles and doubles matches and will be counted on to set the pace for the team.

Robbins was adamant about how important team camaraderie is.

“They do social things and run and lift together,” he said. “They are all going through the same things and can relate to one another. Chemistry is important because mentally you need to feel supported and know that you are part of a team, and I think we have that here.”

Building off of last season, the Utes have high aspirations and feel they can reach their goals if they work hard in practice and continue to improve their individual games.

“Our goal this season is to win the MWC and then it’s to beat BYU,” Robbins said. “Next, I want us to perform academically and stay healthy. If we do all these things, then we will challenge for the title.”

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