BYU Opens Conference Action in California

Patrick Kawka owns an 18-7 doubles record with partner Georgy Batrakov. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah –After a week break, the No. 38 BYU men’s tennis team opens West Coast Conference play against No. 34 Santa Clara and University of San Francisco Friday and Saturday, respectively.

“It was a natural break before going into conference matches,” BYU coach Brad Pearce said. “It was timely, especially with our win over New Mexico which was a three-year achievement in the making, going undefeated against Mountain Region opponents. It was a nice milestone. Mentally, physically and emotionally, it was a perfect time to have a break and recharge out batteries before we head into conference play.”

In its inaugural year as a member of the West Coast Conference, the Cougars (10-5) were chosen to finish third in the WCC, as voted on by the conference coaches. Santa Clara (13-3) landed in fourth with San Francisco (3-9, 1-0 WCC) finishing fifth.

“I think every team will be dangerous,” Pearce said. “We know Santa Clara is going to be a tough match for us and San Francisco beat us last year. We know we have to be ready to play this upcoming weekend.”

Coming off a 5-2 win over then-No. 46 New Mexico, BYU has won its last seven matches.

No. 45 Georgy Batrakov represents the Cougars in the ITA national rankings. Batrakov is 18-8 overall in singles and 18-7 in doubles with sophomore Patrick Kawka. The No. 1 doubles duo has won seven consecutive matches.

Junior Spencer Smith has a team-best 24-6 overall singles record and is 11-4 in dual play. Smith and freshman Francis Sargeant team up at the No. 2 doubles spot for a team-best 19-7 overall doubles record.

Santa Clara is on a six-match winning streak and is coming off 7-0 wins over Idaho and Sonoma. The last meeting between the Broncos and Cougars was in Feb. 2009, where BYU came away with a 7-0 decision.

San Francisco kicked off conference play last week, topping Saint Mary’s 5-2. The Dons have one ranked player in No. 124 Thai Tu. San Francisco served BYU a 2-4 loss last season.

Friday, the Cougars take on Santa Clara at the Degheri Tennis Center at 3 p.m. PST before traveling to San Francisco to challenge the Dons at the California Tennis Club at 2 p.m. PST.

BYU continues conference action March 30 against St. Mary’s.