Freshman Cassidy Mears is one of the new additions to the No. 73 Cougars. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
With a great combination of proven collegiate players and eager underclassmen, the 2006-07 BYU men's tennis team once again has its sights set on a conference championship.
"I'm really excited about our senior leadership," Pearce said. "Chip Hand, James Ludlow and Dominik Kaufhold have all proven themselves at the collegiate level as players and leaders."
With solid all-around play, both Ludlow and Kaufhold won prequalifying matches at the Polo Ralph Lauren All-America Tennis Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in October against tough competitors. Hand and junior Jonathan Sanchez also won a significant doubles match at the same tournament against a tough hometown team from Tulsa University.
Aside from the experience that the seniors bring to the table, Pearce said the Cougar underclassmen, including Sanchez and sophomore transfer Cale Planck, will also contribute a strong, dynamic element to the team.
"We have an impressive combination of sophomore transfers and incoming freshmen that are eager and excited to make their mark on the team and on college tennis," Pearce said.
Planck has already turned a lot of heads with solid play and consistent results, coupled with his strength and huge serve. Freshman Cassidy Mears has also earned a spot on the starting roster after key wins over two seeded players at the Wilson/ITA Mountain Regional Championships. The traveling squad is rounded out with sophomore transfer Albert Nersesyan, quarterfinalist at the 2006 Bronco Classic, and freshman Michael Eraso who beat the No. 11 seed at the Wilson/ITA Mountain Regional Championships.
The BYU men's tennis team, under Coach Pearce, has a philosophy of scheduling tough competition, and the 2006-07 season will be no different. The team is slated to play perennial powerhouses UCLA, Stanford and the University of Washington on the road, as well as hosting 2006 NCAA runner-up Texas in front of the hometown blue-and-white fans. The only conference team that the Cougars will host is rival Utah on April 14, the last match of the season.
With all the talent on the Cougar roster, fans can expect a great year and a solid run at the conference title. During the fall season, the Cougars played well at the Bronco Classic in Santa Clara, dominated the UNLV Rebel Classic and took second place at the Wilson/ITA Mountain Regional Tournament to receive a No. 2 regional ranking going into regular season play in January.
"The players have done a great job during the fall season," Pearce said. "We have good talent, and we are deep. Competition for every lineup position is going to be tight throughout the year, and we should be strong at each position. We're good enough and deep enough, with a little 'magic', to do something special this year. I can't wait to see what happens from my front-row seat; it's up to them!"