Photo by Athletic Media Relations
The Utah State men’s tennis team is set to host in-state foe BYU Friday afternoon, the first time USU has hosted the rivalry since 1985. After 31 straight meetings held in Provo or at a neutral site, the Cougars will make the trip to Logan for just the third time ever.
BYU has dominated the all-time series between the two teams, winning 37 of the 39 matches played, but in recent years the Aggies’ fortune has improved. USU earned its first victory over the Cougars two years ago in Provo by a score of 4-3, then repeated the result with another 4-3 win in 2016.
First-year USU head coach James Wilson may be new to the program, but he understands the rivalry and how important it is to his team.
“The rivalry between BYU and Utah State has been very intense,” Wilson said. “They’ve had some really close matches. Last year, it was 4-3. The third set in the clinching match went Utah State’s way, but I know that they’re very close, and there’s been some close matches. We expect them to fight hard. We know it’s going to be a really close match, and our guys are looking forward to it.”
Coming off of a Mountain West Conference regular season championship and the winningest season in program history, Utah State will hope to defeat the Cougars for the third straight season.
“It’s a mental rivalry kind of thing,” said USU Junior Jaime Barajas. “You’re playing BYU, one of the biggest rivals in school history, and you just have to show up, compete and play hard.”
Barajas has done exactly that during his Aggie career. He is 2-0 against the Cougars, winning in each of the previous two seasons meetings.
Utah State enters Friday’s match with a 7-6 record on the season following losses to three top-10 nationally ranked teams, No. 1 Virginia, No. 9 USC, and No. 10 Georgia two weeks ago in the ITA Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va.
BYU currently boasts a 8-6 record on the season, most recently coming off a road trip to Eugene, Oregon where they fell on Friday to No. 23 Oregon 7-0 before defeating No. 42 Drake on Saturday 4-3.
The match will be held Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Sports Academy & Racquet Club. Attendance is free for all USU students with a valid student ID, and as part of the team’s “Hurd Day” promotion there will be free pizza for students while supplies last