The Cal Poly men’s tennis team is set and ready to serve their competition in the Big West tennis championships as they enter the weekend the No.5 seed with an overall record of 13-8.
Coming off a six-game winning streak with their recent defeat of Sacramento State, the team’s confidence looks to be concrete as they face No.4 UC Riverside in the first round, a team they narrowly lost 4-3 to earlier in the season.
“We have a lot of momentum going into the weekend compared to Riverside because we’ve won six-in-a-row of the last 11 and they have lost five of their last six,” Brett Van Linge said. “We are simply playing better as everyone has found their game.”
Like the team, coach Trevor Kronemann said he feels prepared for the matches and intends on using their strong regular season finish to their advantage.
“I like where we’re at mentally, physically and emotionally, the guys have responded well and have stepped forward into this tournament with confidence,” Kronemann said.
If the Mustangs can ace UC Riverside in the first round, they will face No.1 UC Santa Barbara for a swing at the final match. Entering the tournament as the top seed, the Gauchos walked through San Luis Obispo earlier this season with a 7-0 victory against a Cal Poly team lacking its No.1 player, John Nguyen.
Despite a midseason loss to UC Santa Barbara, the team says no matter who they face, they look to take names.
“We are playing with confidence; no matter if it’s UCSB or Riverside, when we step on the court we are there to win,” Van Linge said.
Feeling confident as a unit, the team said they can better last year’s near-podium fourth place finish and even their tournament-best third place tie achieved in 2003.
With the changes we’ve made, there is a very good chance we can do better than last year if the entire team plays hard,” Nguyen said.
Due to a change in this year’s tournament that was prompted by both Idaho State and Utah State leaving the conference, the losing teams will be eliminated from the event instead of being able to compete for third or fourth out of the now five teams. It’s a change that makes winning in the first round even more important, Van Linge said.
With a tough weekend ahead entering the Big West Tournament as the last seed, the Mustangs know they won’t receive any love in their quest for match-point.
“We have nothing to lose and everything to prove; it is our game to win,” Van Linge said.