2009-2010 Season Outlook

The 2009-2010 BYU Men's Tennis Team

After graduating no players, the 2009-2010 men’s tennis team will combine six experienced letterwinners, two gifted freshmen and one recently returned missionary. In his last season as a Cougar, senior Cassidy Mears will lead the squad as it tries to accomplish the program’s traditional goals as well as vying for the regular season conference championship and win the conference tournament.

“Cassidy has done a terrific job in his tennis career,” BYU coach Brad Pearce said. “I hope for him and all the guys that we have a season we can be proud of.”

If the fall season is any indication, the Cougars will be strong contenders this year. Mears and junior Evan Urbina used home-court advantage from the get-go, competing in both the singles and doubles finals at the Utah Fall Tennis Classic, the first tournament of the year.

At the Boise State Fall Classic, BYU swept both the singles and doubles championship. Urbina and freshman Spencer Smith clinched the title after only a few weeks of playing together. In singles, Thomas Shubert showed his focus with back-to-back championships. The junior took top honors at the Boise State tournament and repeated the next week at the Utah Intercollegiate Invitational.

Smith looks poised to make a big impact in his debut season as the newcomer advanced to the quarterfinals or better in the first three tournaments of the fall. The freshman standout also proved his versatility, partnering with Urbina to notch impressive doubles performances throughout the season.

Not to leave the sophomores unrepresented, Georgy Batrakov defeated the No. 1 seed at the Boise State Fall Classic to earn a spot in the semifinal round. The Russian-born player was the last Cougar remaining at the ITA Mountain Region Tournament in Las Vegas. He defeated several tough opponents to secure a place in the final four.

The men’s team wrapped up the fall with a dominant showing against the University of Hawaii, which finished last season ranked No. 41, at the Hawaii Invitational. Over three days of both single and doubles matches, BYU came away with 27 wins out of a possible 32. Shubert shined again with a three-set victory over Andreas Weber, who was ranked No. 119 in the ITA preseason rankings. Overall, the team dropped only three of 14 doubles matches, a good sign for a squad that went 7-0 last year when winning the doubles point.

“We recognize that doubles performances can be the difference between a good season and a great season,” Pearce said. “We’ve tried to get our pairs together earlier this year so they can have more time playing together.”

BYU will need dedication and skilled play across the board this year as they take on more than ten ranked opponents, including three teams in the top 25. Conference play will be fierce this season with five Mountain West teams in the top 75.

“It will be a challenging year, but we’ve been putting in the effort to achieve our goals and we’re all excited to see if we can have the season everyone has been working for,” Pearce said.

For the third consecutive year, the men’s team will open play in a doubleheader against Weber State and Utah State. Tennis fans can get their first glimpse of the Cougars Jan. 15 against these two in-state rivals and support the team at home throughout the season.