Stevens: Fall Ball is Serious Time for Lobo Tennis
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  09/06/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Sept. 6, 2011

Lobo Men's/Women's Tennis - 2011 Fall Preview

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com M

The goals for Alan Dils' Lobo men and Roy Cañada's Lobo women are exactly the same for the fall tennis season at the University of New Mexico.

  • Play a lot of tennis and get a lot better.

    Oh, yeah, and throw some of the younger Lobos into the fire of D-I competition.

    "This season we are traveling all fall and we did that to pick it up a notch, to go to some good, good competition," said Cañada.

    Said Dils: "You want to give your players as much playing time as you can give them in the fall. Some of these tournaments go on three or four days and regionals can be five days of playing."

    A collegiate tennis team is granted 25 playing dates during a school season. You could burn a playing date on a one-day tournament or you can find a tournament that allows a player to play several matches over several days. It all counts as one playing date.

    In the spring season that counts the most, sometimes a team has no choice but to play a one-day tourney, especially during conference dual meets. In the fall, you look for invites and lots of court time.

    The Lobos men open their fall season this coming weekend at the New Mexico State Invitational. The Lobos women open Sept. 16-18 at the Midland (Texas) Collegiate Invitational, a tourney in which the Lobo men also will play.

    Dils returns a solid handful of proven Lobos, including All-Mountain players Jadon Phillips and Ben Dunbar. On the women's side, Cañada returns All-MW Michaela Bezdickova was named to the All-MWC team.

    Dils had added two talented freshmen in Samir Iftikhar and James Hignett. Cañada brings in first-year Lobos Susanna Kuuttila, Sarah Mahboob Khan, Maria Sablina and Katie Wookey, Fr.

    "The new girls are making an immediate impact and the returners have come back in shape," said Cañada. "I'm pleased with what I've seen so far."

    Dils only lost Joe Wood to graduation off last year's 15-10 team. UNM lost to TCU in the semifinals of the 2010 Mountain West Championships and did not make the NCAA postseason. The obvious goal is to return to the playoffs and make a strong bid for the 2012 Mountain West crown - a crown UNM wore in 2009.

    "We plan to throw some young guys into the frying pan right away," said Dils. "The fall is a good time to see what the younger players are capable of. We are very deep and I want to give our players as many matches as I can this fall.

    "It's a time to see where you are and make changes in your game or maybe implement new strategies."

    Cañada's strategy is to take another jump up in the team's win category come spring matches. UNM finished 8-15 overall in the spring of 2011.

    "We have ten girls on the team and there is a lot more competition within the team, which will make us better," said Cañada. "There is a lot of competition to see who plays. We still have a ways to go, but this new class of girls brings a surge of energy.

    "We had improvement last year, but we are nowhere near where we expect to be."

    Laura Richardson

    Cañada says his team has a catch phrase this season: "Until victory becomes the pattern; until success become the norm." He thinks the influx of talented depth will make his Lobos more of a factor in the Mountain West in 2012.

    Dils also has better depth, but also has solid experience on a balanced roster. The four Lobo pups he plans to toss into the frying pan in the season-opening invite in Las Cruces are Hignett, Iftikhar, Mads Hegelund and Mitch McDaniels.

    "One thing our freshmen might learn this fall is that every match counts," said Dils. "We take each tournament, each match, each point very seriously. There also are spots in the spring lineup that could be determined this fall in how you play."

    Lobo Women's Roster: Michaela Bezdickova, Alyssa Caffey, Kristin Eggleston, Nikolina Grbac, Susanna Kuuttila, Sarah Mahboob Khan, Michaela Oldani, Laura Richardson, Maria Sablina, Katie Wookey.

    Lobo Men's Roster: Phil Anderson, Conor Berg, Evan Corona-Saunders, Ben Dunbar, Mads Hegelund, Simon Hegelund, Carl Ho, Mitch McDaniels, Matthew Neeld, Jadon Phillips, Ian Supple, Sam Iftikhar, James Hignett.

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