BYU to Face Utah in Deseret First Duel Match
PROVO -- With just one match standing between the No. 33 BYU men’s tennis team and the outright Mountain West Conference title, the Cougars will head north to Salt Lake City to take on Utah in a Deseret First Duel match this Saturday. This will be the last regular-season match of the year for both teams.
“We’re just focusing on the process we’ve been going through the whole year as we prepare for Utah and our first match in the tournament,” BYU coach Brad Pearce said.
BYU moved up two spots in the rankings this week after defeating No. 56 SDSU, 4-3, and No. 58 UNLV, 7-0. The only undefeated squad in the conference, the Cougars clinched a share of the MWC regular-season championship with the win over the Aztecs. A victory against Utah would make BYU regular-season champions for the first time since the conference began in 1999. With most teams one match away from finishing conference play, Utah is currently No. 6 in the standings.
“Our practices have been physical and tough,” Pearce said. “We’ve kept up our strength and conditioning, and we’re working on skill development. We’re sticking to our routines.”
The Utes (7-14, 2-3) defeated UNLV 4-3 and fell to San Diego State 5-2 in their last outing. Players on the team faced opponents from BYU throughout the fall season, including at the Utah Intercollegiate Tournament and the ITA Mountain Region Championship. BYU’s Thomas Shubert won the singles title at the Utah Intercollegiate, marking the second consecutive year a Cougar has earned the crown. Junior Evan Urbina won top honors in 2008.
When the teams met last year, Utah took the match 5-2. The Utes also lead the series record at 43-32. BYU has not defeated Utah since 2007 when the Cougars earned a 4-3 win in Provo.
“Rivalry matches are what makes being a collegiate athlete fun,” Pearce said. “They are what make sports fun.”
Saturday’s match begins at noon at the Liberty Park Tennis Center, weather permitting. If the temperature is below 50 degrees or it rains, the match will be moved to the Eccles Tennis Center.