Junior Erik Nyman, above, and Carlos Lozano are ranked No. 7 nationally going into opening season matches this weekend in California (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The BYU men's tennis team opens up the 2003 season this week as it travels to California to take on Loyola Marymount, UC Irvine and last year's national champions, Southern California on Thursday, Friday and Saturday respectively.
BYU head coach Jim Osborne said after a long break over the holidays, the Cougars are looking to get the season underway.
"These matches will be our first outdoor matches after playing indoors for the last few months, so it may take us a few days to get adjusted," Osborne said. "But we are hoping things will get going for us quickly down there. We're ready to get going"
BYU will start the California road trip with a tough match against a Loyola Marymount team that is ranked 98th nationally and is currently riding a 15 consecutive home match win streak. The Lions of LMU opened up their season earlier this week with a 5-2 victory over Azusa Pacific.
On Friday, the Cougars will face UC Irvine. The Anteaters are 0-2 on the season, but the losses were to No. 1 nationally ranked UCLA and No. 60 Fresno State. Brian Morton and Jonathan Endrikat of UC Irvine comprise the No. 11 ranked doubles team and will provide tough competition for the No. 7 ranked Lozano and Nyman.
The big match for the Cougars on this early-season road trip will come Saturday as they take on seventh ranked Southern California. The Trojans lost three seniors from last year, but they return NCAA Tournament MVP Prakash Amritraj and all-tournament selections Daniel Langre and Ruben Torres.
"There are no easy teams anymore," Osborne said. "When you go to California, everyone is good. It's just a hotbed for tennis and everybody plays well. But we're looking forward to the trip. Our guys are tired of playing each other and they are ready to get things going."
Osborne will be looking to senior Carlos Lozano to take the lead at the No. 1 position this season. Lozano finished the fall season with an 8-2 record and is currently ranked No. 106 nationally.
"Carlos Lozano has been an All-American and I think he is ready to play at the No. 1 spot," Osborne said. "We need him to step up and fill that position for us this year."
Junior Erik Nyman will also fill an important role on the team in singles and will be paired with Lozano as the No. 1 doubles team. He and Lozano start the season ranked No. 7 nationally in doubles.
"Erik has a great game," Osborne said. "He had wins over top-100 players last year. He and Lozano will be at the top of our lineup."
"After the top two positions, it is pretty much wide open," Osborne said. "It is going to come down to who wants it the most and who is ready to play hard."
After this week's road trip, BYU will host New Mexico State and Oregon in Provo on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, respectively.