Depth in lineup propels competitive edge for 2018 season
PROVO, Utah — With two transfer students, three recently returned missionaries, three freshmen, three returning players and a new player joining in January, the depth of the BYU men’s tennis team lineup propels a competitive edge for the 2018 season.
“We have great talent and great depth with a full team roster, and it is now a matter of showing and doing,” BYU head coach Brad Pearce said. “The key to success is having solid players from top to bottom, and we have that. I’m excited to get into the season and see how they perform.”
The Cougars finished the 2016-17 season ranked No. 74 with an overall 13-12 record. The team took third place in the West Coast Conference championship after falling to Santa Clara.
“Not only are we excited about the transfer students on our team, but we have great returned missionaries home and ready to work,” Coach Pearce said.
BYU competed in three tournaments during the 2017-18 fall season, including the BYU Fall Classic, USTA/ITA Mountain Regionals and the Southern California Intercollegiate Championships. This was the first time BYU hosted the regional tournament.
Sophomore Sean Hill, a transfer student from Wake Forest, won the Mountain Regional Tournament in singles play. He upset No. 1 seed Dan Little of Utah in the Round of 32. After winning regionals, Hill competed in the ITA Fall National Championships.
“It’s been great having Sean in the fall season of our program and system,” Coach Pearce said. “He stepped it up and won regionals and went on to make a showing at nationals. He has the ability to contribute at a high position in our lineup.”
Other highlights of fall play included sophomore Sam Tullis and junior Jeffrey Hsu advancing to the Round of 16 at the regional tournament in singles play. Hsu, a transfer student from the University of New Orleans, advanced to the semifinals of regionals in doubles play with teammate Hill. The doubles duo also advanced to the semifinal round at the SoCal Intercollegiate.
Returning as the lone senior is John Pearce, who worked hard in the fall season and fought through many tournament matches. Also on the team is his brother, junior Matthew Pearce. Both Pearce brothers bring experience and leadership to the team.
The Cougars welcomed back returned missionaries David Ball and Victor Brown from Australia and Panama, respectively. BYU also brought in Sam Tullis’ younger brother, freshman Jacob Tullis, who returned home from a mission in Ireland and Scotland. All three players worked hard and played competitively fall season. In doubles, Ball and Sam Tullis met teammates Hill and Hsu in the quarterfinals at the regional tournament.
Freshmen Artsiom Ausiyevich, Ben Gajardo and Rishab Sardana bring energy to the team and create depth for the lineup.
BYU opens regular season play in Orlando, Florida, at the new USTA national campus, sporting 100 courts. The Cougars play a full weekend of tennis against tough competition. BYU plays UNC-Wilmington on Jan. 13, at 1 p.m. EST, and Florida Gulf Coast University on Jan. 15, at 11 a.m. EST.
The Cougars host regional opponents in a doubleheader against Montana State and Weber State on Jan. 20, at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., respectively. BYU opens conference play at home against Portland on Feb. 17, at 5:30 p.m.
BYU has been invited to the Oracle Invitational March 16-17 in Indian Wells, California. The invitational is just before the BNP Paribas Open, which is considered the fifth Grand Slam of professional tennis.
“Our players will have the incredible opportunity to watch pros and be around them in Indian Wells,” Coach Pearce said. “We hope many of our fans in California will support us there.”
The Cougars host conference teams Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine April 13-14 before playing in the WCC Tournament April 25-28 in Claremont, California.