Conference Play Starts This Week

Senior Carlos Lozano will play an important role for the Cougars this weekend as they play three conference matches in Provo. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- The No. 59 BYU men's tennis team (7-9) begins Mountain West Conference play this weekend as three conference opponents come to Provo to challenge the Cougars. BYU will play Utah on Thursday, No. 34 San Diego State on Friday and UNLV on Saturday. All three matches will begin at noon.

BYU is coming off four straight road losses last week to fifth-ranked Cal, sixth-ranked Stanford, fifty-first ranked Boise State and fiftieth-ranked Fresno State.

"We had some tough matches last week," said BYU head coach Jim Osborne. "Our guys are playing very well right now, but it's just not being seen in the final results."

But with three conference matches ahead this weekend, Osborne and the Cougars have been working hard to get ready.

"The first half of the season is over and now it's time to focus on the important half -- conference play," said Osborne. "I think all the teams in the conference are really equal. It's going to be a dog fight to the end."

The Cougars start this week's matches against in-state rival Utah, which comes into the match with a 7-8 record on the season. The Utes are recovering from a tough 5-2 loss to Loyola Marymount last week. They will be looking to improve their record to .500 with a win over the Cougars.

On Friday, the Cougars will welcome the Aztecs of SDSU to town. The Aztecs are the highest nationally ranked team in the conference and currently have an 11-9 overall record and a 2-1 record in MWC play. Oliver Maiberger and Ryan Redondo have teamed up this year in doubles and are currently the top-ranked doubles team in the nation. Maiberger is also the thirty-second ranked singles player.

The Cougars will end the week with UNLV. The Rebels lost a tough match to SDSU last weekend, 5-2, which dropped them to 2-10 overall and 0-3 in MWC play.

"This is a big week for us," said Osborne. "But we feel pretty lucky to be able to play three of our five conference matches at home. We just need to focus on winning the doubles point and we should do pretty well. Our goal is to finish the conference season with a first or second seeding in the MWC tournament."

After this week's matches, BYU will be back in action next weekend as they travel to Colorado Springs to play Air Force and New Mexico. After that, the Cougars will be off until April 24-26 for the MWC tournament, which will be hosted by BYU.