If the Aggies could mix Cougar blue with Ute red what would they have? The perfect rivalry! If you passed kindergarten you’ll know that red and blue make purple. Nobody is suggesting that the Weber State Wildcats of the Purple Palace are the perfect rivalry but the Aggies seem to like taking on a Purple Power 5 school in the nation that is now seeking for Violet Vengeance!
Ok seriously, nobody on the Aggie men’s tennis team could give a nice pancake block or sack a quarterback for a ten yard loss. However, when you put these guys on a tennis court this Aggie team eats more purple than the 1960s Minnesota Vikings defense.
In these first two years under Wilson’s tenure as the Aggie men’s tennis coach the Aggies have gone a combined 3-2 against teams with purple in their school colors. Last year the Power Five Purple Powerhouses such as Northwestern and Washington got the best of them but they easily dispatched of neighboring rival Weber State and narrowly defeated Grand Canyon and the #4 team in the nation in TCU who happened to be in the Elite 8 last year in the NCAA tournament.
#7 nationally ranked TCU this year is the exact team that is out for Violet Vengeance against the Aggies in the first round of the tournament this year. When asked about the rematch against them, Coach Wilson said, “TCU is in the best or one of the best conferences in college tennis. We are playing them at their home which is very challenging. I don’t think they’ve lost at home since we beat them last year.”
Wilson will need to find ways to build his team’s confidence and one good start is that four guys who played in the tennis version of the Big Dance last year are returning to play this year. The Aggies haven’t lost since the middle of March and are on a nine match winning streak.
Coach Wilson is also excited to play the underdog role for a change. “We can play loose and aggressive as the underdogs. It hasn’t been that way the last month since we’ve been the favorites.”
While the improvement of several Mountain West tennis teams such as Fresno, New Mexico, Nevada and Air Force have provided the Aggies some healthy competition, they have been the favorites since they were the defending Conference champions who gave the Aggies their first team title in any sport since the spot where the sagebrush grows joined the Mountain West in 2013.
When the games are close Coach Wilson hopes that his team is ahead instead of behind because it’s tough to come from behind in tennis. Scouting TCU has given the team an idea of which matchups they need to exploit most. Wilson said, “TCU is very good at the 1 and 2 spot but I think we have a really good chance at winning at the 3, 4, 5 and 6 spots.” Wilson wouldn’t count out his top guys either as the first and second singles spots have been the strength of the Aggie lineup this season.
“Jaime Barajas has especially played well this year.” – Coach Wilson
It will just be a tougher task because TCU is a top 10 team in the nation again so their top players are bound to be really tough.
Even though tennis is known as an individual sport on the pro level, Coach Wilson has emphasized to his guys that they are on a team. He builds this culture year round starting in the fall with practices and team building exercises.
“We are all in this together and I think the result is what you’ve seen this year.” – Coach Wilson
The NCAA tournament is a lot of fun and Coach Wilson and his team are fired up. They’ve certainly worked hard to get to this point again so they just have to enjoy the experience and play hard.
Can the Aggies be the tennis Purple People Eaters against the Top dog (or should we say Top Frog?) TCU Horned Frogs tennis team again? Hey, lightning can strike twice and one would have to like the Aggies chances a lot more than that. They’ve been here before so they have nothing to lose.