Junior Jeff Hawke is recovering from a wrist injury that hampered him in a three-set match against Pepperdine, but said it won't be an issue this weekend when the Huskies will play in the ITA National Team Indoor Qualifying Tournament.
Junior Jeff Hawke is recovering from a wrist injury that hampered him in a three-set match against Pepperdine, but said it won't be an issue this weekend when the Huskies will play in the ITA National Team Indoor Qualifying Tournament.Photo by Joshua Bessex
Last April, the Washington men’s tennis team was in Ojai, Calif., matching up with Stanford in the Pac-12 championships. It needed two more singles matches to knock off the Cardinal for the first time since 2007, but came up empty-handed, having to settle for a 4-2 defeat that added insult to injury after the Huskies lost to Stanford in the regular season in a close match.
After the match in the conference tournament, head coach Matt Anger said the loss would “haunt me for a while.”
Apparently, it still does. While on an airplane heading to Atlanta on Thursday, Anger briefly thought about last April’s loss. He hopes that when the Huskies are flying back from Atlanta on Sunday after this weekend’s matches at the ITA National Team Indoor Qualifying Tournament, he’ll have happier memories of a match against the Cardinal.
The No. 36 Huskies (2-1) have a chance for payback as they play No. 40 Stanford in the first round of qualifying Saturday at 6 a.m. PST. No. 3 Georgia, which is hosting the qualifying tournament, is the top seed and plays No. 43 Columbia in the first round Saturday. The winners of the two matches will play each other Sunday for an automatic bid to February’s National Team Indoor Championships. The other two teams play in a consolation match Sunday.
For the UW, although the main objective is to return from Georgia with a bid to the indoor championships, finally getting a chance to take down Stanford is added motivation.
“We have a good chip on our shoulder,” junior Jeff Hawke said. “I think it gives us a little extra edge, a little extra grittiness. We know we can get them.”
The UW has stressed the importance of grittiness this season, but it needed a little bit more in its past match against Pepperdine when the Huskies lost four three-set matches against the Waves. During all four of those matches, the UW lost the first set but won the second before falling in the decisive frame. Hawke thinks this weekend’s contest with Stanford will come down to even more three-set matches.
“I think it’s going to be huge for us,” the junior said. “I expect a few three-setters this match. I think it’s going to be the ultimate goal of pulling some of those out.”
Last year, the Huskies lost two three-set matches in as many dual matches with the Cardinal. Even several of the straight-set singles matches were close with many coming down to just one break. Being conference foes, the familiarity between the teams adds even more fuel to the UW’s fire this weekend.
“We know that there will be intense matches,” Anger said. “The freshmen obviously have no idea, but we’re definitely chomping at the bit to get back out there and into the heat of battle.”
Reach Sports Editor Thuc Nhi Nguyen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @thucnhi21
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