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UA Tennis opens play at Pac-10 tournament

JACOB KONST/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior Colin O'Grady serves during last weekend's match with ASU. O'Grady and both the men's and women's teams travel to the Pac-10 Championships which begin today in Ojai, Calif.
By Matthew Bassin
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 21, 2005
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The No. 51 Arizona men's tennis team and the No. 57 Arizona women's tennis team are in the same position heading into the Pacific 10 Conference Championships today through Sunday in Ojai, Calif.

Both are considered "bubble" teams trying to make their way into the NCAA Tournament.

"We need a strong showing," said Arizona men's assistant coach Tad Berkowitz. "We shot ourselves in the foot losing to ASU."

Women's assistant coach Brian Ramirez feels the same way.

"It was tough getting swept by ASU this year," he said.

The men's team brings eight players, four of them freshmen, to the Pac-10 Tournament, as the women bring six players.

JACOB KONST/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Sophomore Jessie Rochefort prepares to serve during the April 8 loss to Washington. The women's tennis team needs a good showing in this weekend's Pac-10 Championships in order to make it to the NCAA Tournament.

The men's team (8-12, 1-6 Pac-10) is going to have a fresh face in the lineup for the tournament.

"Paul Warkentin is not going to play," Berkowitz said. "We're going to give freshman Francois Vandermere a chance to get some playing time."

Berkowitz did not go into detail why Warkentin, a senior, will not get to play in his last Pac-10 tournament, stating it was a coach's decision.

The women's team (7-12, 1-6) will bring in junior Iza Ferreira to replace sophomore Jessie Rochefort, who is recovering from injuries.

Both coaches said the tournament is set up in two "flights," which are used to distinguish rankings.

"Your top four players play in the Open flight," Berkowitz said. "And your next four play in the Invitational flight."

For the men's team, senior Colin O'Grady, juniors Roger Matalonga and Daniel Andrus and freshman Jason Labrosse will play in the Open flight.

Junior Tim Mullane and freshmen Bruno Alcala, Claudio Christen and Vandermere will play in the Invitational flight.

For the women's team, seniors Dianne Hollands, Maja Mlakar and Kelly Perry will represent Arizona in the Open flight, while juniors Stephanie Balzert, Iza Ferreira and sophomore Kasia Jakowlew will represent the Wildcats in the Invitational flight.

The tournament is separated into singles and doubles matches as well.

"Thursday is the hardest and busiest day," Berkowitz said. "It's when most of the singles matches are held. It starts to calm down after that."

For at least one last time on both teams, O'Grady and Matalonga for the men, and Hollands and Mlakar for the women, the best duo will get to show what they've got against the best in the West.

Both teams struggled in the Pac-10 season and need to play well in this tournament to have any shot at making the NCAA fields of 64.

Both coaches said the tournament is set up for individual accomplishments, as the players rack up overall points for the team.

"There is an overall winner," Berkowitz said. "It is important especially for teams who are not certain if they are in the NCAA tournament."

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