Sept. 13, 2012
The University of Montana's men's tennis team begins its fall competitive season not far from home. The Griz will be in Bozeman Friday through Sunday to contend in the Montana State Open.
The team is coming off a big year. Last year, Montana went 8-0 in conference play last year before falling to Sacramento State in the Big Sky Conference championship. The bar is set high for this year's team.
"I would like to see us replicate last year," said head coach Kris Nord. "We were regular season champions and it would be nice to win the (Big Sky) tournament. We definitely have a talented group of players that could get us there."
The Grizzlies return three first team All-Big Sky Conference players: junior Mikolaj Caruk, junior Ethan Vaughn and senior Michael Facey. Rounding out these strong veterans, Montana welcomes new addition freshman Semion Branzburg from Israel.
"Mikolaj, Ethan and Michael have a lot of pressure on them this season," said Nord. "They are expected to do the same thing as last year."
Nord is also hoping senior Andrew Warren will have a strong season.
"Andrew has been playing great tennis," said Nord. "If he plays well, it will take some of the pressure off the freshman."
The biggest area Nord says the team needs to improve on is doubles play. Doubles matches were a weakness for the team last year at the Big Sky Conference championship.
"The bar is set high from last year," said Nord. "Doubles is a starting point for us to get better."
In addition to competing in Bozeman, the team will participate in fall tournaments in Cheney, Wash., and Boise, Idaho. Montana will close out the fall season at the ITA Mountain Regional in Las Vegas.
These tournaments will serve as a gauge to see where the players are at in their tennis game.
"I wish we had the luxury of playing in summer tournament, but the players need to work to pay for school and some completed internships this summer," said Nord. "We are getting back into playing shape. Fall tournaments let us get back into the competitive swing of things."
Results from the Montana State Open will be posted on GoGriz.com on Monday after the completion of the tournament.
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