Star-Bulletin Sports


BYUH has teams to beat
in PacWest tennis

By Jerry Campany

When the postseason starts in any sport, many teams use a lack of respect as a motivating factor.

Even teams like the Brigham Young-Hawaii tennis teams that are undefeated and ranked No. 1 unanimously.

The Seasider men are 21-0 and No. 1 in the men's poll and the women are 20-0 and No.1 in the women's poll. It is the first time in school history they have been ranked at the top, but one look at where their greatest rivals are undoes most of the honor for them.

"It (dual No. 1s) is a neat thing, more of a reflection on last week than what we are capable of," BYUH head coach Dave Porter said. "But we kind of lost faith in any kind of ranking system when we saw where HPU was."

HPU's men dropped to 10th in the rankings after battling BYUH for the top spot in the beginning of the season, and their only Division II losses have come in two matches to the unanimous No. 1.

"That is an excellent tennis team," Porter said of HPU. "They are one of only four or five teams that can win the national tournament and for them to be ranked 10th is ludicrous."

If anyone knows what Hawaii Pacific is capable of, it is Porter. He has managed to beat the Sea Warriors twice this season and will probably test them again tomorrow in the finals of the Pacific West Conference tournament at Laie. After that, they will probably hook up again in the regional tournament.

As dangerous as the Sea Warriors are, the season will wind up answering one question:

Can Porter become the first coach in NCAA Division II history to guide two teams to the national championship in the same year?

It has been done five times by Stanford on the Division I level and twice in Division III, with only Trinity (Tex.) coach Butch Newman handling both men's and women's teams.

And there is a reason it has been done so infrequently.

"In some ways it (coaching both teams) is very difficult," Porter said. "It is twice the time on the court, twice the paperwork, and of course you have to handle men and women differently, but I enjoy it."

It may be now or never for Porter to complete the rare sweep, as his women's team will be gutted by graduation next year -- he will lose four starters -- and he will have to compete head-to-head with Division I for players for the first time because of a rules change that equalizes eligibility standards.

But next year is next year, and all Porter's players have on their minds is HPU and the rest of the PacWest Conference.

Should both teams on the men's side win their matches today, they would play for the conference title tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. in Laie, with the singles matches probably starting with BYUH's Jan Krejci and HPU's Mikael Maata testing each other for the third time this year. Krejci won the first two, and has never lost to Maata.

"He is a very clever player," Krejci said. "Whenever I finish playing him, I feel like I am stronger because I have learned so much."

Although the winner of the No. 1 singles match only gets one point for his team, the fact that it is the best of both squads is worth more in terms of momentum. And coaches all over the country will be waiting for the results online because Krejci is the No. 2 player in the nation while Maata is No. 4.

BYUH Athletics

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