By Brian Penso
CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Junior Carl Hagman and the men's tennis team take on Utah this afternoon as a final tune up before the conference season begins this weekend at USC and UCLA.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday February 11, 2003
With the Pacific 10 Conference season set to begin this weekend, the UA men's tennis team has one last match this afternoon to prepare itself for the rigors of conference play.
The 48th-ranked Wildcats finish their non-conference schedule today at 1:30 p.m. at the Lanelle Robson Tennis center against Utah.
Arizona (4-1) is coming off a weekend that saw them defeat UC-Santa Barbara and lose to BYU.
The Wildcats were hoping to enter conference play undefeated, but the Cougars spoiled that opportunity Saturday.
Utah comes in looking to become the second Mountain West Conference team to upset the Wildcats in as many days.
In order for UA to avoid the upset bug, the Wildcats have to come out strong and win the doubles point.
If they win the doubles point, UA assistant coach Bob Helmig said it will give the team a lot of confidence heading into singles play.
"Winning the doubles point allows you to jump on the other team early," Helmig said. "It gives us a boost going into singles play."
Whichever team loses the doubles point must take four of the remaining six singles matches to win the meet, giving the team that wins doubles a significant advantage.
Arizona's top player, junior Whi Kim, said the Wildcats' strength this season lies in the success that he thinks they will have with their four, five and six seeded players.
"We are a very deep team," Kim said. "Our roster top to bottom is very strong. I don't think other teams realize the depth that we have."
Kim is 3-2 on the season, but is riding high after he pulled a major upset on Sunday against UCSB.
Kim is ranked 102nd in the nation, but he could move up in the next ranking, as he was able to defeat Carlos Palencia, who is ranked 55th in the country.
Last season, UA's top player, Steven Capriati, was ranked in the top 40 for most of the season and coming into this season Kim knew that he had giant shoes to fill.
The junior leader of the Wildcats hopes his upset victory will propel him to take his game to the next level.
Arizona should be heavily favored against Utah, but after losing to BYU, the UA coaching staff realizes the team can't afford to take any opponent for granted.
"The goal of every coach is to have their team ready for every opponent," Wright said. "They know that they have to come and play and I think they will be ready."