'Bows smarter, not smarting
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
Hawai'i will play its first home tennis match in nearly two months today when the 57th-ranked Rainbow Warriors take on 12th-ranked Louisville. Play begins at 3 p.m. at the UH Tennis Complex. Fans will receive free slices of Papa John's pizza, while supplies last.
After nine straight road matches, UH came home with a 7-5 record. It went 4-5 on the road and dropped 16 spots in this week's Campbell's Intercollegiate Tennis Association Rankings.
Coach John Nelson is not bothered at all. Five of his team's last six matches have been against nationally ranked teams, including 10th-ranked UCLA and 15th-ranked California.
"I don't look at the won-loss record," said Nelson, who has guided the 'Bows to the last two WAC titles. "We are learning. We are getting better. We've got a lot to learn.
"Every year there are going to be problems. There are always things to work on. I know I mess them up by working on new stuff, but the main goal is to keep improving. We want them to get smarter."
They will get a serious test from Louisville (13-3). The Cardinals have three ranked singles players — No. 31 Austen Childs, from New Zealand, No. 66 Simon Childs, from England, and No. 122 Viktor Maksimcuk, from Serbia. Austen Childs and Simon Childs are 21st in doubles.
Junior Dennis Lajola, from 'Aiea, is UH's only ranked player, at No. 105. Lajola is 6-5 at No. 1, with three-set losses to ranked players in two of his last three matches. Senior Andreas Weber, 7-4 at No. 2, is also coming off a three-set loss to a ranked Oklahoma State player.
Sophomore Leo Rosenberg, now playing No. 3, is unbeaten and hasn't lost a set in any match he has finished.
"That's not a surprise," Nelson said. "We have depth. Last year Leo was a freshman and had a lot of things he needed to work on. Now he's a lot more comfortable."
The 'Bows might be deeper than last year, according to Nelson. If the past two seasons are any indication, no one will know for sure until the WAC Tournament. Hawai'i opens WAC regular-season play in two weeks, hosting No. 26 Fresno State (April 2), Utah State (April 3) and Idaho (April 4). They close the regular season on the Mainland against New Mexico State and Boise State. The WAC Tournament is April 30 to May 2 in Fresno.
The Rainbow Wahine (2-11) are also home after playing their last 11 on the road. They host Air Force (10 a.m.) and Lewis & Clark (3 p.m.) in a Saturday doubleheader.