LAS CRUCES – The 11-6 New Mexico State men’s tennis team opens up Western Athletic Conference match play this weekend with a pair of matches in Reno, Nev. The Aggies play No. 61 Nevada on Friday, April 10 at 2 p.m. and No. 23 Boise State, Saturday, April 11 at 11 a.m.
NM State’s schedule has been a tough one this year. Five of the last eight Aggie opponents have been ranked and four of New Mexico State’s last five opponents, including the Wolf Pack and Broncos, are all in the national rankings.
The Aggies themselves are no stranger to being ranked nationally. NM State has spent five week’s in the ITA National Rankings, most recently coming in at No. 67 on March 24. The Aggies have gone 1-5 this year against the nation’s top teams.
A balanced attack in the 2009 spring dual match season has been the recipe for NM State’s success. Four different Aggies have already won 10 singles matches this year, with sophomore Arthur Surreaux leading the team with his 13-4 record.
Surreaux plays in the middle of the lineup while sophomore Jim Brouleau and Gustave Diep control the top two spots. Brouleau has gone 11-6, mainly at the No. 1 position, and Diep is 12-5 on the year and 5-3 at the No. 2 spot. Throw in senior Roman Stoisavljevic (7-8), freshman Matej Stakne (10-5) and senior Stefan McKinney (7-6) and the Aggies have one potent lineup.
As the Aggies enter their fourth season in the WAC, this is the first year that every team in the league will face one another. NM State has gone 7-2 against WAC teams in the regular season in the last three year.
Head coach Don Ball is hoping that the experience from playing a tough non-conference schedule will pay off in the loaded WAC.
“Our schedule has just been brutal, but that’s the way we wanted it,” Ball said. “Our guys deserve to be playing the best competition because they themselves are very, very good players. We’ve played some of the best teams in the nation very close this year and now it’s time for us to start winning some of those matches.”
Nevada has posted a 10-3 record this season and beat Idaho, 6-1, in its only WAC match. Freshman Wessim Derbel leads the Wolf Pack with his 11-1 singles record and he is ranked No. 123 in the nation.
Boise State will be the second highest ranked opponent the Aggies face this season behind Arizona, who was No. 17 when they beat NM State 6-1 on March 6. The Broncos are coming off a 4-3 win over No. 36 New Mexico and now stands at 15-7 on the year. Boise State has three ranked singles players and a ranked doubles tandem.
It will be important for New Mexico State to have a quick start in its weekend matches, which will begin with doubles competition. The Aggies have a 9-1 record this year when they win the doubles point, but are just 2-5 when they don’t capture it.
If New Mexico State can take the doubles point in the two matches, that will go a long way and its loaded singles lineup has the necessary make-up to lead the Aggies to a pair of upsets to open league play.