Menâ€™s tennis looks to leadership and experience for 2016 success
PROVO, Utah—With a team of nine players made up of six juniors and three sophomores, the BYU men’s tennis team is looking forward to a strong 2015-2016 season.
All of the players on the BYU team have played before, whether before their missions or during the 2014-15 season. Six of the nine players are returning to the team from last year. Three players (Keaton Cullimore, Scott Bohne and John Pearce) are joining the Cougars again after their LDS missions.
“I’m excited to have all the players returning that were with us last year,” BYU head coach Brad Pearce said. “It’s also great to have the leadership of John, Keaton and Scott who are returning from missions. They’ve already added a lot to the mix, not only in terms of playing ability, but also in terms of leadership and maturity.”
A strong summer of play has put BYU further ahead than previous seasons. The Cougars played a lot of tennis this summer, including some ITA tournaments and a foreign tour of Europe.
“Our Europe trip was good for us,” coach Pearce said. “It helped us get a good jump on the season and those matches have had a great impact on our players.”
Sophomore Shane Monroe played well in the fall season. He participated in the USTA/ITA All-American qualifier draw in early October and fell one round short of qualifying for the main event, upsetting LSU’s Tam Trinh in the first round, who was the 17th seed in the tournament.
Based off of tournament draws for the season, Monroe and junior Keaton Cullimore will be battling for the top singles spots. Sophomore John Pearce and Cullimore won the doubles draw as a team and will most likely be the number one doubles team.
Bohne, who recently returned from his mission to Spain, also played well in the summer and recently won the consolation bracket for the Fall Tennis Classic.
John Pearce and Cullimore will be co-captains for the season. They were chosen to lead based off of their previous experience.
“Both John and Keaton were part of some of the most successful seasons that we’ve ever had in our program before their LDS missions,” coach Pearce said. ”Not only were they a part of a successful team, but they were both successful individually in singles and doubles play. Leadership in the past couple of years is something we’ve needed, and we’re looking forward to these boys stepping it up.”
The team’s play and chemistry is instilling a lot of confidence and optimism for the year, and after participating in fall tournaments, the men's team is geared up for the regular season.
“I think we’re further along in our development at this time than in previous seasons,” coach Pearce said. Hopefully, we can get this team back to where it has been in previous seasons. The goal is to compete for a conference championship and we want to get back to the NCAA tournament.”
The Cougars will begin regular season play in Provo against Southern Utah University on Jan. 8 at 5:30 p.m. They will host 12 of their 24 matches at home for the 2016 season. After a trip to Hawaii over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, they will return home for back-to-back games on the 22nd and 23rd.
Matches out of conference for the Cougars include Air Force, Denver, Boise State and in-state rival Utah. The Cougars open West Coast Conference play on February 26th against Portland at home, and will play in Provo the next day against Gonzaga.
The WCC Tournament begins on April 27, and the Cougars will be looking to clinch the conference title and compete in the NCAA postseason.
“Overall, I’m looking forward to this season,” coach Pearce said. “Everyone is working hard and we have a good practice schedule. We have a good, competitive schedule in terms of match play. Hopefully, we’ll see some good fruits.”
For the complete men’s tennis schedule, click here.
BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe has announced Zack Warren as BYU head men’s tennis coach.