Junior Erik Nyman will be leading the Cougars at the No. 1 singles and doubles spots this week in the MWC tournament. The MWC tournament will be in Provo from Thursday, April 24 through Saturday, April 26. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The No. 61 BYU men's tennis team will be this year's host institution as the Mountain West Conference tournament begins play this week in Provo. The Cougars earned the No. 3 seed in the tournament and will face UNLV in the first round on Thursday at 2 p.m. on the BYU outdoor courts.
The Cougars finished the season winning four of their last five matches to give them an 11-8 overall record and put them in a three-way tie with No. 30 San Diego State and No. 60 New Mexico for first place in the conference.
"The third seed is a tough one because we'll have to win three matches to win the championship, but the seeding works out for us," BYU head coach Jim Osborne said. "We have been off for a few days with finals and everything, so we can use the extra play. We beat UNLV just a few weeks ago, but you never want to overlook anybody, especially in the tournament. Any team can beat any other team on any given day."
The Cougars come into the tournament healthy and ready to play. Erik Nyman and Carlos Lozano have played at the No. 1 doubles position all year and have played at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in singles. The Cougar tandem are currently ranked 45th nationally and have compiled an impressive 20-13 overall record.
In singles, Nyman is 20-10 on the season playing primarily at the No. 1 spot. Lozano finished the season winning four of his last five matches at the No. 2 position to go 4-1 in MWC play and finish with a 17-11 overall record.
"I still don't think we are playing our best tennis yet," BYU head coach Jim Osborne said. "We're getting better all the time and I guess it's good that we will be playing our best at the right time."
The rest of BYU's singles and doubles lineup has been equally impressive this season. Jose Lechuga and Anton Rudjuk teamed up at the No. 2 doubles position to post a 17-11 overall record. Both Lechuga and Rudjuk have also come up with big wins in singles that have helped the Cougars clinch a couple of close matches this season.
Jeff Olsen and Alonso Medina have played at the No. 3 doubles spot all year and together they have compiled an overall record of 11-16. Both have played at the bottom half of the lineup all season, but have provided the Cougars with some consistent play.
"I've been extremely happy with the bottom part of our lineup," Osborne said. "We've had some guys step up and that has given us a big push in some close matches this season."
The MWC currently has three teams ranked in the top-75 nationally. The winner of the six-team MWC tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in May, so each team has something to play for.
"We've played a lot of tennis this season, but we are ready and excited for the tournament," Osborne said. "We all understand that we need to win to assure ourselves a spot in the NCAA tournament. Playing at home is a big advantage for us. We just need to play hard and focus on each match."