The Washington men’s tennis team host two top-20 teams to kick off Pac-12 play this weekend when No. 13 USC and No. 4 UCLA come to Seattle. 

The Huskies (8-5) are likely to play their first outdoor match of the season this weekend, if the temperature gets up to at least 50 degrees. It will potentially be a nice change of pace for them. 

“We love it,” head coach Matt Anger said. “We don’t know totally how the weather is going to go, it seems a little up and down, but we’ll be ready for both. For me, it’s tennis wherever we are.”

The team is adapting nicely to the change of scenery so far in practice. 

“It feels good to be outside,” junior Enzo Sommer said. “We’ve been inside for so long that we were waiting to play outside again. It feels really good; I really enjoy it.” 

The early outdoor season schedule can vary quite a bit with temperatures falling just below or above the line; this leads some fans, one in particular, to prefer one over the other. 

“I don’t have a preference, but I know my wife does,” Anger said. “She just wants to be wherever it’s a little warmer. If it’s right at the border at 50, she would rather be inside. It does not matter to me at all.”

Wherever the Huskies hit the court, they will be facing two tough opponents to open conference play. Both USC and UCLA played in the ITA Indoor Championships alongside Washington last month. USC went 2-1 in the tournament, while UCLA made it to the championship before falling to top-ranked Wake Forest. 

That experience is crucial for all three teams, Stanford as well, for the rest of the season.

“I like to think our schedule being tough helps us and makes our conference stronger,” Anger said. “No doubt those matches are tough and prepare you for these matches, and these Pac-12 matches also prepare for the NCAA championships.”

Starting conference play is similar to a whole new season, and the competition is fierce from top to bottom. 

“There’s an eagerness and respect in conference play,” Anger said. “Like a lot of sports, the Pac-12 conference is rough, and that’s the good news and the bad news. You want to be in the Pac-12, but there are no easy days.”

Reach reporter Kyle Gehler at Twitter: @KyleGehler

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