Stevens: Joe Wood's Legacy Includes Strengthening Lobo Recruiting Chain
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/22/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 22, 2011

Lobo Tailgate Fundraiser: The Friends of Tanner and Connor Dils will be holding their second annual tailgate fundraiser in the parking lot outside the Linda Estes Tennis Complex beginning at 11 a.m., Saturday. The event is one of many fundraisers to raise money to provide a college fund for the children of Loren and Elaine Dils. Loren, the brother of Lobo head coach Alan Dils, has been fighting ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) since 2008. ALS is a rapidly progressive and fatal neuromuscular disease that attacks nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Donations to the cause are also welcome.

Lobo Men's Tennis - Linda Estes Tennis Complex
Noon, Air Force at New Mexico
GoLobos.com: Match Recap, Stats

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

The footprints of success that Joe Wood leaves on New Mexico's tennis courts haven't yet come to a halt. The lone UNM senior still gets to tangle with Air Force on Saturday and then there are the April 28-30 Mountain West Conference Championships set for Colorado State.

There is a lot of Lobo tennis beyond Wood's final home match Saturday at the Linda Estes Tennis Complex.

However, there is a legacy of sorts established in the Lobos' recruiting chain and Wood is another important link in that enticing string that goes from Albuquerque to England. In a way, his legacy will continue when future Lobos James Hignett and Samir Iftikar cross the Atlantic Ocean to join Alan Dils' program.

The recruitment of foreign tennis players is really a common thing with American colleges. There is a ton of talent overseas: good kids, academically motivated. Dils has developed a strong pipeline into the talent of England.

"You get a good player and they usually know other good players," said Dils. "It started with Max (Jones), who told us about a couple of friends who might be pretty good and that turned out to be Johnny (Parkes) and Miles (Bugby).

"Then Johnny and Miles say they know a couple of guys and that turns out to be Joe (Wood) and Ben (Dunbar). I can't say (Hignett and Iftikar) are coming directly because of links to Joe and Ben, but they still see a connection that makes them more comfortable coming here.

"They come to visit and see the success of (countrymen) and then they see those guys sticking around after tennis and they know there are good reasons. The players like the school and the program. They like Albuquerque and New Mexico. That makes a good impression."

In his freshman season, Wood made a good impression on Dils and the UNM players. Wood leaves his mark as being one of the more fiery Lobos ever and his example of honest effort is something Dils should videotape and show to all future Lobos. Wood gets down and dirty

"Joe is just an excellent competitor and always fiery on the court," said Dils. "When he first got here, he made a mark for himself as one of those players who went for every shot. He played as hard as he could and never wanted anything to get past him."

Wood, born in Sheffield, England, had immediate success as a Lobo. He posted a 20-13 mark in doubles as a freshman. He had a 21-9 doubles mark as a sophomore. As a junior, he made a push to improve his singles' play and posted an 18-14 mark. He had played only four singles matches as a sophomore.

Wood takes a 10-7 singles mark into Saturday's Air Force match. He is 8-4 in doubles when playing with Carl Ho.

"I've been part of an amazing group of people," said Wood, reflecting on his final days as a Lobo. "It's been the best four years of my life. I've been part of an amazing group of people."

Wood is the only senior on the squad and he was also the only junior last season. "I don't think it's been tough on Joe to be the only senior," said Dils. "We had no seniors last year, so a lot of the guys had to step up. We ask all our players to step up in one area or the other and lead."

On paper, the Lobos don't look to be seriously challenged Saturday by Air Force. The Falcons are 0-5 in Mountain West play and 10-12 on the year. The Lobos are 3-2 on MWC courts and 13-9 overall.

But Dils says his teams "never take those Air Force guys lightly."

"Air Force is always a difficult match," said Dils. "They have improved their talent drastically over the past few years and they are a typical Air Force team that fights for every point."