Losing three of its last four matches, the CSU Ram tennis team will travel to Greeley to challenge Northern Colorado today in hopes to get back on the winning track.
In past matches, the Bears have a one-game advantage over the Rams, leading the series 6-7. But UNC has been in a downtrend as it has lost its last three games. Against No. 40 Denver, the Bears fell 6-1; against UTEP they lost 7-0 and against Wyoming they lost 7-0. But this season the Bears are in a transition period.
"They just recently turned Division-I and are in the process of getting their team to our level," said head coach Jon Messick. "But the results I have seen from them are very competitive. I expect a tough match."
When facing the same opponents the Bears just faced, the Rams have gone 1-2. In their game against Denver the Rams lost 6-1, versus UTEP the Rams lost 5-2 and against Wyoming the Rams won 4-3. Although the matches did not always result in a victory, that did not alter the Rams resolve.
"I would like to see a win as it is our last match before conference," said senior Alex Paganetti. "If we all play really solid and win it will build our confidence for the Mountain West Conference Tournament."
But the Rams will need to make some improvements.
"Our key to success is to pull it out," said junior Carla Pallares. "We need to stay in stay confident and finish every point."
Pulling it out may be one thing the Rams need to do to win, but have also shown their ability to play close matches.
"I think we are really strong. We played some really hard matches that could have gone either way," said senior captain Dasha Zhurin.
The two youngest players on the team will lead the Rams at UNC.
"(Sophomore) Emily Kirchem beat a really good San Diego player at the No. 2 position and is playing very well," Messick said. "(Freshman) Anne Anderson is playing exceptionally well and has won her last few matches against nationally ranked teams."
Although the Rams are focusing on the Bears right now, they are looking ahead to the end of the season.
"After the UNC match the Mountain West Conference Tournament will be our only priority," Zhurin said.
Fueling the thought of the MWC tournament is the release of the tournament bracket. The first opponent the Rams will face is UNLV. But until then the Rams are looking at the present.
"Ending our regular season on a winning note is important and playing well tomorrow is important," Messick said.
The Rams have an overall record of 12-8 walking into today's match. They have a conference record of 2-5 and are fifth in the MWC. The final game of the season will begin at 2:30 p.m. in Greeley.