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Friday March 9, 2001

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Men's tennis faces L.A. powerhouses

By David Stevenson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA prepares for USC, UCLA in weekend matchups

The UA tennis team - like many Arizona students - will head to Southern California this weekend. But it's not for Spring Break.

No. 51 Arizona (9-3 overall, 0-3 in Pacific 10 Conference) will travel to Los Angeles to clash with No. 24 Southern California and No. 1 UCLA.

The Trojans, who are flashing an 8-1 spring record, are led by junior Andrew Park. Even though USC (9-2) lost to the top-ranked Bruins last week, No. 17 Park upset UCLA's No. 10 Jean-Julien Rojer.

Park's defensive mindset allows him to react quickly to his opponent. Playing mostly in the back of the court, he's called a "counter-puncher," returning everything his opponent throws at him.

"He won't give me anything. I'm a counter-puncher, so I'll just be patient, play my game, move well, and I should beat him," UA junior Steve Capriati said.

UA is prepared to fight the Trojans with confidence. Arizona is still flying high after this weekend's wins against two ranked opponents. Boasting nine wins and heading into the team's only match against USC, the Wildcats are ready for the Trojans' challenge.

"We feel good, especially after beating (San Diego) last week," Capriati said.

Arizona must quickly lick the battle wounds to hook up with the undefeated Bruins Saturday. On January 26, UCLA mauled UA 6-1 in Tucson.

The Bruins have romped through the season with three 6-1 wins along with a 7-0 skunk.

"They have eight guys that could all play in the No. 1 position, but if you're in college, you can be beaten," Capriati said.

UCLA freshman Marien Mathowski and sophomore Travis Rettenmaier left the team last weekend to win the 112th Pacific Coast Doubles Tournament in La Jolla, Calif.

Reeling from the upset, sophomore Rojer will face the chop-licking Capriati.

"He's not big but has a good volley and serve. He goes to the net and goes back when he isn't," Capriati said. "I just need to move well because he's not going to give it to me.

"It's not everyday you can play both SC and UCLA in the same weekend," Capriati said. "We're excited and had a meeting after practice yesterday to make sure what we're going to do."