“We need to play well.”
That’s what Idaho men’s tennis coach Jeff Beaman said after learning the Vandals will be taking on the number one seed, the USC Trojans, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Idaho men’s and women’s tennis teams both won Western Athletic Conference championships on Sunday to advance to NCAA competition.
The Vandal men (11-13) take on the No. 1 overall seed Trojans (26-3) on May 10 at 12 p.m. in Los Angeles.
“They’re the number one seed in the tournament for a reason,” Beaman said in a statement. “They’re a great program. They’ve won multiple national championships recently.”
The men’s team heads into the NCAA tournament on a season-high four-match win streak. After winning just three of their first nine matches of the season, the Idaho men went 8-7 down the stretch and finished 11- 13.
“We have an extremely talented team,” Beaman said. “We honestly have, I feel, under-achieved for most of the year. The good thing is we got healthy and we started playing better at the right time.”
“Winning the WAC was important for us. It was our goal as a team,” Idaho senior Jose Bendeck said. “We worked for our goal and we made it.”
Bendeck will play at the No. 1 singles and doubles spots for the Vandals during the NCAA tournament, He said in an interview with Idaho Public Radio that the tournament will be a good experience for the Vandals.
“We go there with no pressure,” Bendeck said. “We go there to enjoy it. know it’s the No. 1 team in the nation. We just have to enjoy the moment and play as hard as we can and just leave it all there…They’re all humans. Anything can happen in tennis.”
(Idaho Public Radio photo)
The Idaho women (19-5) will play against the 16th seeded Trojans (16-7) in LA on May 9 at 2 p.m.
“Our women’s program has a winning record and we’ve beaten nationally ranked programs,” Beaman said. “We have a very talented team and when we’re clicking we can compete with anybody.”
“They’re a tough team, but we’re a good team too,” Idaho senior Almudena Sanz said. “Anything can happen on the court. They have good players at every position but we have the skills to beat them. We are growing and coming together as a team. Everyone has to be focused on their match and give it their best.”