By Michael Schwartz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 4, 2004
UA men's tennis players Roger Matalonga and Colin O'Grady finish pre-team play at the second of three national tournaments today through Sunday at the University of Michigan Varsity Tennis Center in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Indoor Championships.
Besides playing doubles with the senior O'Grady for the nation's fifth-ranked doubles team, Matalonga will also take his 29th-best singles rank to that draw. The doubles team quailed with an at-large bid off the strength of its rankings. Matalonga, a junior, earned an alternate berth after starting out second on the singles waiting list.
While both Matalonga and the doubles teams are unseeded, this tournament shows the improvement of the Arizona tennis program. Coach Bill Wright said this will be the first time in at least six years any Wildcat has played in the field.
Arizona will face Illinois' Ryler DeHeart and GD Jones in the first round of the doubles tournament. If they advance, they would likely face Stanford's second-seeded duo of K.C. Corkery and Sam Warburg in the second round.
"I expect they'll do well," Wright said. "I think playing indoors favors our guys because we play at a little altitude. The court's a little faster. I would think we have an advantage there over someone who plays on a slow court somewhere."
Matalonga said that he has never played on an indoor court, but that he's very excited to see what will happen this weekend.
"I know the courts are going to be fast so I need to serve well," he said. "I know the other people will serve well, so the serve is really important. Return is very important too, but than you have to be aggressive because the courts are really fast. I just have to be aggressive and serve well."
Matalonga will likely become very familiar with DeHeart as they will also battle in the first round of the singles tournament. If he advances, Matalonga would likely face Pepperdine's fourth-seeded Pedro Rico in the second round.
Matalonga said he could not predict how he will finish, but that he just hopes to play as well as possible.
"I'm not going to worry about results. I'm just going to have a lot of matches," he said. "Of course I want to win and I'm going to go there like 200 percent, but the main thing is to play matches and have a good attitude. If I win or lose with a good attitude, I'll be happy going into next semester. I've been playing the best three tournaments in the semester. I think it's going to help me a lot, I don't know for sure, but it's always good to play against the best."
The remainder of the men's squad will play the Texas A&M Invitational tomorrow through Sunday on Texas A&M's home court.
The Wildcats will bring senior Paul Warkentin, junior Tim Mullane, sophomores Jason Labrosse and Nate Cochrane and freshmen Bruno Alcala, Francois Vandermerwe and Thomas Brown. They will face Oklahoma, Louisiana State and host Texas A&M in the four-team meet.
Wright said that this tournament will be a good way to get matches in for all his players.
"I wanted everybody to get three events in the fall and this is the best way to do it," he said. "I get to see everybody play so I can evaluate, since it's like the exhibition season for basketball. It's going to make them tougher. The tougher guys we can play the better we're going to be prepared for the season."