The Mountain West Conference Championships begin today in Las Vegas for the CSU tennis team, and all bets are off for the teamâ€™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 teamâ€™s lone win came in Lubbock, Texas against UT-Arlington on Jan. 23, but the Lobos have dropped 19 consecutive matches since.
â€œWe know weâ€™re going to have a tough match because we had a close match last time,â€ Messick said.
CSUâ€™s victory earlier this month against New Mexico was held in Fort Worth, Texas and served as the Ramsâ€™ only conference win of the season along with the first time it had defeated the Lobos in Messickâ€™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.
â€œI think itâ€™s an advantage almost,â€ Messick said. â€œThe 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 havenâ€™t.â€
CSU finished the regular season losing eight of their final 10 matches, but in spite of that the team is feeling â€œpretty positive,â€ according to Messick.
â€œWe feel like weâ€™re playing real well and weâ€™re expecting to do well,â€ 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.
â€œThe attitude going into the tournament is one match at a time, and if you win you keep playing,â€ Messick said. â€œThe winner of the tournament goes to the NCAA Tournament and anything can happen.â€
Tennis Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.