Men's Tennis Hosts Weber State Wednesday, Competes at Pac-12 Championships Saturday
The Utah men's tennis team is set to host Weber State for senior day at the George S. Eccles this Wednesday, Apr. 21 in the regular season finale before heading to the Pac-12 Championships this Saturday, Apr. 24. Utah and Weber State will have the first serve played at 3 p.m. MT. Live stats will be available here, while fans can tune into the live stream here.
Utah will honor seniors Randy Cory, Slava Shainyan, Luis Flores and Benjamin Heck, along with former Utes Russell Benkaim and Azat Hankuliyev from last year's squad. Spectators will be allowed if the match is to be played outdoors. Masks are required for the entirety of the event.
The Utes will then compete for an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships this weekend at the Pac-12 Championships. Utah will face second-seeded Arizona this Saturday at 6 p.m. PT at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Calif. For a full look at this year's bracket, click here.
LEADING THE LINEUP
Freshman Franco Capalbo had won eight-straight matches, including a win over then-No. 65-ranked Jack Davis of Washington to start the winning streak and recently over No. 63 Jonas Ziverts of No. 20 Arizona. During the run, Capalbo has collected victories over opponents from Stanford, San Diego State, Nevada, Arizona State and Arizona as well. He has a team-best singles record of 15-4 this season with nine wins coming from court one, along with six on court two. Capalbo also has the second-most doubles wins with 11 on the season. He has the best singles win percentage on the team and has the second-best win percentage in doubles play.
Geronimo Busleiman and Franco Capalbo have led doubles play for Utah, beginning the season as partners and still leading the way after separating. Capalbo has a team-best winning percentage in doubles with an 11-6 record, which includes eight wins on court one. Busleiman holds a team-high 16 doubles wins with eight coming from court one, as well as seven on court three. Besides playing together, Capalbo has paired with Luis Flores, who have teamed up for three wins on court two. Busleiman has also paired with Mathias Gavelin and has collected five wins as a duo, along with Chris Heck for three wins.
Utah will honor four current seniors on the roster against Weber State – Randy Cory, Slava Shainyan, Luis Flores and Benjamin Heck – along with former Utes Russell Benkaim and Azat Hankuliyev. Cory has battled injuries throughout his career, but last year in the shortened season he played in the top doubles spot and finished ranked No. 37 in the ITA/Oracle doubles poll with Benkaim after going 12-4, which included winning 11-straight matches. Shainyan has been a five-year starter for the Utes and last season he earned the Team MVP award after collecting a 13-2 singles record. His junior season he ended the year ranked No. 16 in the ITA Mountain Region in singles as well. Flores joined Utah as a transfer this year and has made an immediate impact, playing between the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles spots.
Heck came to the Utes in 2016 and split paths from tennis to focus on his engineering career path, but rejoined the squad this year. Before entering college, Heck was ranked in the top-10 of Texas and ranked No. 114 at the time of commitment. Benkaim played a key role in Utah's success as the played in the No. 2 singles position last year, as well as finishing nationally ranked in doubles with Cory. As a sophomore, Benkaim finished the year ranked No. 17 in the ITA Mountain Region in singles. Lastly, Hankuliyev also played a big role in doubles play during his career and in his final year, he went 10-5 overall in doubles with Shainyan and also earned 10 doubles wins his junior year.
SCOUTING WEBER STATE
Weber State is 4-8 this season after having seven matches cancelled throughout the year for the Wildcats. Weber State's wins have come over UC Riverside, Azusa Pacific University, New Mexico State and Montana. Kris Van Wyk plays primarily in the top spot for Weber State and has posted six wins in singles play. Sebastian Buxman holds a team-high nine dual wins coming across the top three courts. In doubles play, Buxman and Arthur Serafim lead the team with four wins.
The Arizona Wildcats head into the Pac-12 Championships ranked No. 23 in the latest ITA/Oracle rankings and are 18-6 overall this year with three of its losses coming from teams ranked inside the top-10. Additionally, Arizona suffered a loss to Utah just under two weeks ago in Salt Lake City when the Utes upset the Wildcats 4-3. Utah lost the doubles point, but rallied back for the upset when Arizona was ranked No. 20 in the nation after winning four singles matches on courts one, three, four and five. Arizona is led by No. 23-ranked Gustaf Strom, who has a 16-1 record this year, including a 9-0 mark on court three.
LAST TIME OUT
Utah started last week's play with a 6-1 win over San Francisco in Salt Lake City. The Utes dropped the doubles point to begin the match, but turned things around in singles as the Utes won all six courts and five of which were straight-set wins. Utah then had its final road match of the regular season against BYU where the Utes fell in Provo. Utah won the doubles point after a dominant win on court three and capped it off with a 6-4 win on court two. Utah could not keep the momentum and went on to fall on four singles courts to drop the match.