Apr 272010
 
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

The Mountain West Conference Championships begin today in Las Vegas for the CSU tennis team, and all bets are off for the team’s opening round match against New Mexico.

Earlier this season, the Rams came out on top with a 4-3 victory, but head coach Jon Messick believes the Lobos are still dangerous despite the previous encounter as all schools start with a clean slate to begin the postseason.

This season, New Mexico is 1-20 on the year, going 0-8 in conference play. The team’s lone win came in Lubbock, Texas against UT-Arlington on Jan. 23, but the Lobos have dropped 19 consecutive matches since.

“We know we’re going to have a tough match because we had a close match last time,” Messick said.

CSU’s victory earlier this month against New Mexico was held in Fort Worth, Texas and served as the Rams’ only conference win of the season along with the first time it had defeated the Lobos in Messick’s career.

The Rams play today while the rest of the tournament opens Thursday, and CSU will play top-seeded No. 39 Utah if they advance with a victory.

“I think it’s an advantage almost,” Messick said. “The winner of the play-in match is a little bit more used to the conditions. I generally like having to play a match when your possible opponents haven’t.”

CSU finished the regular season losing eight of their final 10 matches, but in spite of that the team is feeling “pretty positive,” according to Messick.

“We feel like we’re playing real well and we’re expecting to do well,” he said.

The Rams have lost two consecutive matches at the MWC Championships, with their last win coming in 2007 against Air Force. In all of those instances, however, CSU was not playing in the play-in game, but rather in the traditional quarterfinals.

“The attitude going into the tournament is one match at a time, and if you win you keep playing,” Messick said. “The winner of the tournament goes to the NCAA Tournament and anything can happen.”

Tennis Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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