BYU opens season in California

Megan Price is the lone senior on the 2012 BYU roster. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – The BYU women’s tennis team heads to California to kick off the 2012 season against No. 55 UC Irvine and No. 38 Long Beach State Friday and Saturday.

“We’re looking forward to getting started,” BYU coach Lauren Jones-Spencer said. “We’re starting a little late this year so it feels like a long time to prep. The team is excited and ready to play.”

The Cougars (0-0) will take on the No. 55 UC Irvine Anteaters (1-2) Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. PST at the Rhodes Tennis Center in Irvine, Calif. BYU then heads to Long Beach, Calif. to compete against the No. 38 Long Beach State 49ers (1-0) Feb. 4 at 11 a.m. PST at the Tennis Stadium.

“It will be a tough and competitive start to the season facing two ranked teams,” Jones-Spencer said. “It’ll be good to play in the low altitude and face some California schools to get us ready for the West Coast Conference.”

The Anteaters are coming off a 7-0 loss to No. 4 UCLA while the 49ers are looking to continue success after a 6-1 win over Loyola Marymount in their season opener.

BYU is 2-2 all-time against UC Irvine while the match against Long Beach State will be a first for the Cougars. The last matchup between BYU and UC Irvine came last year when the Cougars fell to the Anteaters, 2-5, in Irvine.

Long Beach State is home to two nationally-ranked players in No. 117 Laura Bernard and No. 122 Rachel Manasse.

BYU will look to senior Megan Price and junior Aubrey Paul for team leadership this season. Paul led the Cougars in fall play with a 12-5 record.

Cougar fans can get a look at the team Feb. 10 when BYU hosts Denver at the BYU Indoor Tennis Courts.