The heat is on for the CSU tennis team. The Rams face the Cougars of Brigham Young in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Championships in sunny San Diego today.
The Rams have some experience facing these foes as they lost to them by a score of 6-1 on the Moby tennis courts 11 days ago. Head coach Jon Messick is hoping his team can take from those matches enough to defeat the Cougars in the more important match-up.
“We’ve asked each player what worked against BYU and given each of them a game plan,” said Messick. “We’ve been working on a variety of tactics that we’re going to use against them.”
When the Rams faced off against their rivals from Provo, Utah, only senior Sanja Hansson was victorious, playing at the No. 1 spot. It is going to be important to the success of the Rams that their No. 1 player be on top of her game.
“It’s hard to over emphasize the impact that (Hansson) has had on this team,” Messick said. “She’s earned a lot of respect around the conference which in turn has earned our program a lot of respect.”
Hannson was named Mountain West Player of the Week, and with a victory in today’s single match, she will tie for most CSU victories at singles. The record currently stands at 75 and this may be Hansson’s last chance to share the record. Hansson has won 24 of 31 at the No. 1 position this year.
Apart from reviewing how the team played against BYU last time, the coach also hopes his whole team will play with a great deal of focus to make it through to the second round of the tournament.
“We need to cut down on our unforced errors,” Messick said. “Players that are focused don’t cause unforced errors, and when we’re focused through the lineup we are capable of beating any team.”
The last time the Rams played a match was in a loss to the University of Denver on April 15. That was the fourth game the women played in five days and the break was important to revitalize the team.
The coach is confident his team will be successful at this year’s championships.
“This is the best team that I have ever coached,” Messick said. “As always, the competition is tough, but if we get past BYU I think we can beat UNLV, who we will likely play in the next round.”