The Utah State Men’s Tennis team is currently riding high, following a major program victory over then-ranked No. 12 TCU and earning a berth in the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship later this month. The team looks to further their momentum this Friday as the Aggies are set to take on the University of Arizona.
For the players, however, this is not simply another game on the schedule. This one gets personal, as former USU head coach Clancy Shields now mans the sideline for the Wildcats.
“We’re all motivated to kind of bring it to him and show him that we’re still here. He may have left, but this program is still on the up,” said senior Jack Swindells.
Shields spent the previous three seasons as head coach at Utah State, playing an integral part in building the program to where it is today. Both players and current head coach James Wilson recognize Shields’ contributions to the Aggies.
“The culture here is very strong because of what Clancy Shields installed and really, he’s the one that built that culture and I’ve done my best to try and carry on that,” Wilson said.
Despite the amicable relations between Shields and the Aggies, however, players are bringing extra motivation into Friday’s match.
“There’s nothing more I’d want than to rub it in Clancy’s face with a win,” Swindells said. “Everyone’s very driven and we’d all love to talk some smack to Clancy after the match.”
Sophomore Samuel Serrano also understands Shields will also be fired up for the match and the Aggies will have to play well to come away with the win.
“Of course, it’s going to be tough. He knows all of us. He knows all of our strengths and weaknesses. The matchups that he’s going to play against us are going to be tough… We just can’t let that get into our heads and just play tennis like we’ve been doing all season,” Serrano said.
Utah State takes on Arizona Friday at 2 pm, beginning a three-match weekend that also features matches against Marquette and Grand Canyon University on Saturday.