By Christopher Wuensch
CHRYSTAL MCCONNELL/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona junior Whi Kim attempts an off-balanced return shot during a match earlier this season. Kim and his Wildcat teammates head to the Pac-10 championships in Ojai, Calif.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday April 24, 2003
The Arizona men's and women's tennis teams will try and keep their momentum going this weekend at the Pacific-10 Conference Championships in Ojai, Calif.
Both the No. 21 women and No. 38 men begin play today on the heels of upset victories last weekend over rival Arizona State to close out their respective seasons. The Pac-10 tournament will coincide with the 103rd annual Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament.
The Pac-10 tourney will feature 32 players from all 10 conference schools. The remainder of the squads will be broken up into the Ojai Valley Tourney. The tournaments are based on individual efforts rather than total team points.
The men's squad will send four Wildcats to compete in the Pac-10 tourney. Leading the way for Arizona will be juniors Whi Kim and Carl Hagman. Kim has been the Wildcats' heart and soul this season, playing in the number one singles slot, but has battled injury.
Hagman, the team captain, enters the tourney as the only ranked player in the nation for the UA squad, at No. 102. A pair of sophomores round out the UA group; Ohio State transfer Paul Warkentin joins Colin O'Grady in the Wildcats' tourney lineup.
O'Grady, a native of Tempe, brings Arizona's best record to the Pac-10s, at 19-14. Roger Matalonga, a staple in the Wildcats' lineup this season, will sit out this weekend's matches due to soreness in his back. The freshman is expected to rest this week to be ready in time for the NCAA tournament in two weeks.
"We like the matchups," assistant head coach Bob Helmig said. "Every match is a tough match ÷ the first round, the second round, the quarters, the semis ÷ they are all tough matches."
Despite liking the matchups, Helmig feels his Wildcats still have their work cut out for them.
"These guys all play one through four on their respective teams," Helmig added. "So number four will have a tough match with number one and one will have a tough match with four."
The women's squad faces the same challenges and format as the men. Four women, Emilie Scribot, Maja Mlakar, Debbie Larocque and Dianne Hollands, will represent Arizona in the Pac-10s.
Despite dropping her match on Saturday to No. 11 Adria Engle of ASU, Scribot jumped four spots in the rankings to No. 6 in the country. The graduate student will lead the Wildcats into Ojai, drawing California's Christina Fusano in today's match.
The last time the Golden Bears played the Wildcats, Fusano fell victim to Mlakar in the decisive singles match that sealed the upset against No. 4 Cal. Today, No. 39 Mlakar draws Washington's Clare Carter.
In the remaining matches, sophomore Hollands, currently No. 49 in the nation, squares off with Oregon's Daria Panova, while Larocque will battle Stanford's Alice Barnes.
"It's an individual tournament, so we'll probably have some success at some positions and maybe not so much at others," women's head coach Vicky Maes said. "I think overall the matchups are pretty good and the girls are in good spirits."
Competing in the invitational portion for the UA women's squad will be Kelly Perry, Zorica Zasova, Kelly Duncan and Kristy Randono.
"I think Kelly got a good draw in her match," Maes added.
The men will send a squad to the invitational meets as well. Three Wildcats ÷ Daniel Andrus, Tim Mullane and Chris Gessner ÷ will compete in the Ojai tourney for Arizona.
"It should be some great tennis," Helmig said of the weekend's matchups. "They are all playing well. I'd say there is an equal chance for all of our guys."