Coach says tough schedule to serve as learning experience

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    Coming off a benchmark season in which the men’s tennis team won the Mountain West Conference and finished No. 34 nationally, the Horned Frogs want to build confidence by playing against tough competition.

    After three games, the team’s record stands at 1-2, with losses coming from No. 24 Rice University and the No. 2 University of Texas. The Horned Frogs first win of the spring season came against the University of South Florida, the 28th-ranked team at the time.

    Given the quality of the opponents the team has faced so far, the Horned Frogs’ record at this early point in the season is comparable to what head coach Dave Borelli expected.

    “I don’t see us winning as many matches this year as we did last year,” Borelli said.

    He said he isn’t worried about the possibility of winning fewer matches this season because this year’s schedule is much more demanding.

    “We could be 0-10 in the first half of the year and I wouldn’t be worried,” Borelli said. “As long as the kids are playing well in individual matches. Now on the other hand, if we’re 5-5, we will be ranked top 20.”

    Borelli hopes that playing quality competition will help his young team mature by raising their expectations of themselves. Like last year, this year’s team features only one senior. Six of the team’s 12 players are sophomores.

    “They have to understand the principles of what they have to do … on the practice courts,” Borelli said. “That’s where the wins and losses come from.”

    While the competition will condition the team’s mental toughness, players said the emphasis was put on physical toughness in the offseason.

    “We did a lot of running, a lot of conditioning,” said senior Kriegler Brink. We ran with Jason our assistant and Levi, our weight and conditioning guy, so we know our guys are in shape, which is good. So now we’ve just got to go play.”

    The team had successful years at the beginning of the decade, finishing the 2000 season ranked as the No. 10 team in the country and finished 2001 ranked at No. 5. The coach and players all hope to return the team to prominence this season.

    The Horned Frogs next match will be held on Feb. 14 when they travel to Norman to play the University of Oklahoma.

    The team has one match in Fort Worth during the month of February against Texas A&M University on the 18th, but then hosts six straight matches at home beginning March 4.