Arizona Men's Tennis 2004 Outlook
Jan. 15, 2004
With the 2003-2004 season approaching, the Arizona men's tennis team is looking forward to improving on last year's 9-11 record, a final ranking of No. 37 and a trip to the NCAA tournament. The team returns all nine squad members from last season, including eight letterwinners and the team has added four freshmen and a new assistant coach. The key to success this year will be the experience and depth that the team has by returning all nine men from last year's team.
Tad Berkowitz took over the assistant coaching duties this fall, replacing Bob Helmig. Berkowitz previously served as an assistant coach at Texas A&M and Alabama, and he was the head coach at St. Stephen's Tennis Academy in Austin, Texas.
'Tad (Berkowitz) has had extensive experience while coaching under Tim Cass at Texas A&M and Adam Steinberg at Alabama,' said head coach Bill Wright. 'He was an excellent player and will be a great addition to the team.'
Along with the new assistant coach, the players have made strides in their games and have taken steps toward the team's overall improvement. Wright has been impressed with the team's depth and growth over the last few seasons.
'We have built a solid foundation here,' Wright said. 'The guys have gotten better every year they have been here. We are a very solid group from 1-10.'
Arizona's greatest strength this season will be the versatility of its players. Seven of the returning players will compete for the top-six positions week in and week out. Without the emergence of an obvious No. 1 player, the coaching staff is looking for each player to compete for each position.
'We have seven guys who are looking to fight for the top-six positions,' Wright said. 'Unlike most teams, we will not have a drop off in the No. 3, 4 or 5 positions.''The fall results show that each week a different player stepped up and played big,' Berkowitz stated. 'One day one guy can be the star, and the next day it can be someone else.'
The Wildcats return the entire squad from the 2002-03 team, including three seniors, three juniors and three sophomores.
Arizona's three returning seniors for Arizona are Carl Hagman, Whi Kim and Tom Lloyd who are expected to provide solid leadership and experience.Lloyd received medical redshirt last season for a nagging back injury and is poised to have another strong season for the Wildcats. During the fall he earned a team-high .700 winning percentage and earned two victories over ranked opponents. He also earned a three-match winning streak and a spot in the quarterfinals of the Racquet Club Invitational.
'With Tom (Lloyd) taking the year off last season, we expect big things from him this year' Wright said.
Hagman has proven himself once again, as he competed in several national tournaments for Arizona during the fall season. In those tournaments, he accumulated several key wins including two three-match winning streaks, and one of which was at the Icy Hot/ITA All-American.
Kim had a successful summer and fall season on the tennis circuits and will be back to compete for Arizona in the spring.
'Whi (Kim) was No. 1 last year and has worked hard in the fall,' Wright said. 'We look for him to do great things this year.'
The three seniors will supply the leadership for the squad this spring, each man offering his leadership in different ways. For the past three seasons the team captain has been shared by Lloyd and Hagman, with Lloyd leading the team twice and Hagman took over while Lloyd was injured last season. Kim acted as a leader on the courts, playing solely in the No. 1 position in singles and in the No. 1 and 2 doubles positions last spring.
With the junior class knocking on the door, the two juniors both will be pushing the upperclassmen and forcing them to improve each week. Juniors Colin O'Grady and Paul Warkentin will be among the seven men fighting for the top-six positions.O'Grady and Warkentin continued their success from last season during the fall schedule and have positioned themselves for a strong spring. O'Grady earned a spot in the quarterfinals of the Racquet Club Invitational in the fall and has played some of the top competition in the country. Warkentin earned three victories at the ITA All-American, as well as a win at the Texas A&M Invitational.
'Paul (Warkentin) and Colin (O'Grady) made great strides last season,' Wright said. 'Those improvements have carried over to this fall, and they will have the opportunity to step up big this spring.'
The sophomore class, which includes Daniel Andrus and Roger Matalonga, has already made its presence felt as Andrus and Matalonga had strong seasons last spring and dominate performances in the fall, earning an 11-6 combined mark. Andrus earned a spot in the semifinals of the back draw at the Omni Hotel Region VIII South Fall Championships, while Matalonga tallied a four-match winning streak at the Laguna Niguel Futures. Wright expects them also to be in the heat of the competition for the top positions.
The Wildcats also return two squad players in junior Chris Gessner and sophomore Tim Mullane. Gessner, a 5 foot 10 junior from Tucson, Ariz., joined the team last fall after walk-on tryouts. Mullane hails from Westlake Village, Calif., and earned a letter last spring after competing in two dual matches for Arizona.
Arizona added four freshmen to the squad this season. Zach Bromberg, Nate Cochrane, Jason Labrosse and Hague Van Dillen will round out the 13-man roster for the spring season. These four men players will add depth and could push for a top-six position.
Bromberg, a 6 foot 3 native of Tucson, Ariz., returns to the Old Pueblo after forgoing his senior season at Salpointe High School to train at a tennis academy in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Cochrane, a 5 foot 9 native of Glendale, Ariz., won the Arizona State High School Tennis tournament his senior year, and he was ranked No. 1 in the boys 18 Southwest Region and No. 11 in doubles nationally.
Labrosse hails from Montreal, Quebec, Canada was a member of the 2002 Canadian Junior tennis team and held the top ranking in the Quebec16-and-under category.
Van Dillen, a native of Burlingame, Calif., brings a high level of athleticism. Van Dillen earned 10 letters in high school, including four in tennis.
The strength for the Wildcats doubles teams this spring is the emergence of two proven tandems. The pair of Warkentin and Andrus, along with the duo of Matalonga and O'Grady have shown the tennis world that they are ready to play the best.
After testing several different combinations last spring, the pair of Matalonga and O'Grady emerged and proved it was not a team to be taken lightly. The pair enjoyed an eight-match winning streak last spring. The pair saw limited action during the fall, but is expected to lead the squad in the spring.
The pair of Warkentin and Andrus made its presence felt while competing at the Omni Hotel Region VIII South Fall Championships. The tandem earned two solid victories over tough competition and is set for a strong spring season.
'The pair had a very good showing at the Omni (Hotel Region VIII South Fall Championships)' Wright said. 'We are excited about those guys.'
Rounding out the doubles teams, the third will consist of a combination of three players - Kim, Lloyd and Hagman. Each player has extensive doubles experience and will be able to play with either teammate to produce a quality and experienced doubles team.
The Pacific-10 Conference:
Once again this season, Arizona will face several of the top teams in the country, including perennial top-25 teams in USC, Stanford, California and UCLA. The Pac-10 also enjoys the fruits of an emerging Washington team. Last season, seven teams in the Pac-10 finished in the top 40, while four of the seven finished in the top 15.
'USC has added several new men, California has a whole new team, and Arizona State has added two men from Australia,' Wright said. 'With our depth and big serves, we are going to be tough at home.'
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