FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's tennis team opens its fall schedule this weekend at the Aggie Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M. that will run from Friday through Sunday. The tournament, hosted by New Mexico State, will be one of five tournaments the Lumberjacks will compete at this fall, and will provide the men with an opportunity to jump start their bounce back season from a disappointing 2012 campaign.
"This weekend, we're bringing our three new guys to see what they're all about and we're also bringing Trevor (Unger) who still needs a ton of matches," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "We've had a great couple weeks of practice, they've been playing well and we seem fit. It's different from the practice courts to matches, so it'll be interesting to see how they match up against these other teams."
The Lumberjacks finished the spring 2012 season with a 6-16 overall record and missed out on the Big Sky Tournament. However, Bruno returns four starters and six players total from last year headlined by junior Dominic Bermudez, an All-Big Sky Second Team selection in 2012. After losing two starters to graduation, the Lumberjacks welcome three new players to this year's roster. Junior Alan Barrios and sophomore Kester Black bring a level of experience from their previous colleges with Barrios playing two years at Pima Community College and Black spending a year competing for Wichita State. NAU's third newcomer is freshman Sarp Laleli from Ankara, Turkey.
Barrios, Black and Laleli will all make their NAU debuts this weekend and will be joined by sophomore Trevor Unger in Las Cruces. Unger compiled a 1-6 singles record at the No. 5 and 6 positions last year to go along with a 4-8 doubles record, playing primarily in the top doubles spot with senior Shaun Waters.
"Trevor had an impact last year in doubles and he's right there in singles, but I think he needs a couple of matches under his belt to figure his game out," Bruno said. "As for the new guys, I see a lot of potential. Sarp has a big game, Kester brings intensity and he's one of those kids that will never give up and Alan has a big game as well and I think he can be a dangerous kid once he starts getting some confidence playing at this level. It'll be interesting this tournament to see where we are in this first tournament and where we need to be by the end of the fall."
After this weekend at the Aggie Invitational, the Lumberjacks will take a week off from competition before returning to the courts in Albuquerque, N.M. for the Balloon Fiesta Invitational from Oct. 5-7. NAU will then travel to Santa Barbara, Calif. for the Santa Barbara Classic the following week before wrapping up the fall schedule in Las Vegas with the ITA Mountain Regional Championships and the Larry Easley Memorial Classic.