LAS CRUCES – The New Mexico State men’s tennis team climbed back into the national rankings at No. 70 and faces two other nationally ranked opponents this weekend in Tucson, Ariz.
NM State (8-2) faces No. 17 Arizona, Friday, March 6 at 1:00 p.m. and then on Saturday meets No. 75 UC Irvine at 12:00 p.m. Both matches will be played at Arizona’s LaNelle Robson Tennis Center.
The Aggies’ No. 70 ranking is their seventh-highest ever and highest since they were also No. 70 back on March 31, 2002.
Head coach Don Ball says that from here on out the Aggies do not have an easy match and that realistically they can play well this weekend, but come away with two losses.
“We know Irvine is a very strong team and fell that we will be right in the match with Arizona,” Ball said. “We match up pretty well with Arizona. We’ll be disappointed with a loss to Irvine, but it certainly can happen and we are hoping to sneak one out against Arizona.
“This is a tough schedule, but it’s what we wanted and what we play for. Our guys deserve to be playing the best competition and it will prepare us for the WAC Championships.”
New Mexico State is coming off a 6-1 loss at No. 29 Texas Tech last Sunday. Nonetheless, the Aggies have been very dominant this season and have won 80 percent of their singles matches and 63.3 percent of their doubles matches.
Sophomore Arthur Surreaux carries a five-match singles winning streak into Tucson. He and junior Gustave Diep lead NM State in singles play, as both of the French players sport a 9-1 record this season.
In doubles play, New Mexico State has won the team point in 7-of-10 matches this season. The Aggies’ top duo of senior Roman Stoisavljevic and junior Eduardo Salas just fell out of the national rankings and are 6-3 together this year.
Arizona enters the weekend with a 9-1 record after reeling off seven-straight wins. The Wildcats defeated Texas Tech, who just beat the Aggies, earlier this season. In its last match, U of A came back from a 3-0 deficit to down then 42nd-ranked Fresno State on the road.
Jay Goldman is the Wildcats top singles player and is ranked No. 51. Francois VanderMerwe and Pat Metham are ranked No. 56 in the doubles rankings.
UC Irvine (3-6) appeared back in the rankings this week after being absent from the polls the last couple of weeks. They were as high as No. 68 this year and got back in there after going 2-1 last weekend with a win over a ranked opponent.