Fresno State, which competed in three invitational meets and participated in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northwest Regional in the fall, will play in its first competition this weekend since early November when it hosts Saint Mary’s (Fri.), and Cal Poly and UC Riverside (Sun.) at the Spalding G. Wathen Tennis Center.
This three-game home stretch also marks the first time the Bulldogs will be competing at home this season under first-year coach Evan Austin.
“I’m just excited to be playing some matches,” Austin said.
“The first few weeks we’re going to be trying some different doubles pairings, just kind of seeing where guys fit in the lineup. It’s a really exciting time of the year for us to see what guys did over the break and what our new guys are going to bring.”
Austin, heir to a three-man roster when he was hired by Fresno State in August, has gradually doubled the roster size heading into the spring season.
Sam MacNeil, a junior from Scotland, joined the Bulldogs during the fall season.
Nikolas Papic and Felipe Fritz, both from Santiago, Chile, joined the roster after the fall season.
“Obviously, they bring us some depth that we need because we were a little short on players in the fall,” Austin said.
“They’re both really experienced guys. They have a lot of international and junior experience and also some men’s circuit stuff, and they’ve had some good success in both singles and doubles.”
On Jan. 25, the Bulldogs travel to Los Angeles to compete in the ITA Kick Off, a weekend-long event.
Fresno State opens Mountain West Conference play on Feb. 8, when it hosts San Diego State.
“Our expectation is to come out and play hard this weekend, but we also know it’s a long process,” Austin said.
“It’s all about improving and really playing your best tennis come conference season later in the year.
“We’re patient. We know it’s a long season. We’re just looking to get better with each match.”
As the head coach at Drake University (Iowa), Austin’s teams compiled a 45-6 record in the two years prior to him coming to Fresno State.