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Wednesday December 6, 2000

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Lack of experience, consistency holds back men's tennis

By Lindsey Manroel

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Head coach accomplishes No. 1 goal

While a young and inexperienced Arizona men's tennis team did not post the results it would have liked from the fall season, it managed to accomplish its top goal - to gain the experience its spring schedule demands.

"It was a very good fall season," UA head coach Bill Wright said. "We had to squeeze in all the tennis we could. We're very excited because we are very experienced for being so young. Mission accomplished."

The Wildcats - which posted an individual overall record of 26 wins and 17 losses in the fall season - will try to improve upon its 10-11 1999 record.

With a physically stronger Arizona roster - due to the work of assistant strength coach Neil Willie - the men's squad is prepared for its tedious season.

"He (Willie) is very conscious and has gotten the guys in very good shape," Wright said. "He's one reason why I'm confident about the spring season. Every match will be tough, but if we play up to our potential, we can play with anyone."

Defending NCAA champion Stanford along with UCLA, Southern California and a much improved California squad, will test the young Arizona team.

"(We're) green and untested," Wright said. "We'll be the greenest team in the conference, by far. But we'll be in there with every team."

Despite the confidence shown by both coaches and players, Arizona must demonstrate more consistency if it wants to end the spring season on a positive note.

"Everyone needed to play their best tennis longer," Wright said. "We weren't able to keep at that level and beat someone at the caliber that we play. We all played very well at times - just none of them were consistent."

The fall season did, however, showcase a few good performances from a few of the Arizona players. The men, who were able to partake in three strong tournaments, took home one consolation championship title and sent another man to the quarterfinals.

UA's Bruno Aropovic came up strong in the USD All-College Invitational, Oct. 13-15. In consolation play, the junior took home the championship title for the Wildcats - the team's only title of the fall season.

Senior Jari Niskala also posted a strong performance, advancing to the quarterfinals of the ITA Region 8-South Championships before losing to Mirua Duranovic from ASU, 6-4, 7-5.

While Wright admits that his team must perform more consistently in the spring, he does recognize that solid strokes from back-court players Carl Hagman, Tommy Lloyd and Steven Capriati will help the Wildcats next semester.

"Our main goal is trying to do well in the Pac-10 and this year's top priority is to get to the NCAA's," Hagman said. "Everybody is pretty positive. The spirit is good and everyone on the team has the ability to play well enough to get us there."

Despite posting 26 individual wins, Wright said each member of the UA squad is prepared to do better.

"We're looking forward to the spring, the fall doesn't mean anything," junior Johnathon Brozyna said. "Everyone is in better shape and hopefully (Arizona) got the experience that they need for the spring. There's no one individual on our team - everyone is supportive."

Lindsey Manroel can be reached at