By Brian Penso
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday January 24, 2003
Steven Capriati had to live in the shadow of his sister Jennifer who plays tennis on the professional tour.
Now it's Steven's turn to cast a shadow from which an Arizona men's tennis player must emerge.
As the Wildcats take the court for the first time on Saturday against Santa Clara, the reins of the UA program will be passed from Capriati to junior Whi Kim.
Throughout his two-year career at Arizona, Kim has continually improved, and UA head assistant coach Bob Helmig said that Kim is ready for the challenge of being the Wildcats top player.
"Whi has been playing the best tennis," Helmig said. "I think that he is ready to take on the tough matches at the No. 1 position. I think that there will be matches that Steven (Capriati) was unable to win that he will win due to his style of play."
Last season, the Wildcats finished 9-12 on the year öö a great disappointment to players and coaches.
Arizona finished below .500 mainly because of its inability to pull out close matches and upsets against the top teams in the conference.
"We were disappointed last year," UA head coach Bill Wright said. "We were really close in a lot of matches last year. It came down to a few points here and there and we weren't able to win those points. Hopefully we will be able to win those this season. Our season was like that of a few NFL teams that fell only a few plays away from making the playoffs."
The Wildcats are currently ranked 61st in the country, but Kim said he is confident that they will be much higher by the end of the season.
"We have been practicing well," Kim said. "We know that we can compete with anyone. We have many goals on the year, but we want to keep them to ourselves and focus on just playing tennis."
Arizona's first opponent, Santa Clara, is 1-0 on the season after defeating UC Santa Cruz last weekend 5-2 in its home opener.
The Wildcats are considered the favorite in this match, but Kim said Arizona realizes that every match is going to be a grind, and that everyone has to play their best tennis for UA to come out on top.
"We are hoping for a good year," Kim said. "Anything less than winning this weekend is going to be a disappointment."
First serve is set to begin on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center.