Sun Devils honour for Roberts

By RENALDO DORSETT

Tribune Sports Reporter

rdorsett@tribunemedia.net

Justin Roberts’ acclaimed collegiate career will be celebrated by his Arizona State Sun Devils men’s tennis programme on Senior Day.

The No 31 ranked Sun Devils will host the Utah Utes April 13 in their final home contest of the season and Roberts will be recognised for his efforts this season.

Roberts graduated last May from USF and completes his final year of college eligibility this season at Arizona State University and reunited with former coach Matt Hill.

“Leaving USF to come to ASU has been a really good transition. It’s a little different being in the desert but the coach at ASU was the first coach I had at USF so I know what I’m getting there. The guys are great, we have a really talented team.”

Under Hill at USF, Roberts advanced to the round of 16 during his freshman year in doubles. Aside from Hill, Roberts was also familiar with volunteer assistant coach Dominic Cotrone as the two posted an 8-2 record in doubles play during the 2015-16 season.

“Justin’s impact on this program in his one year here is genuinely impossible to put into words,” Hill said. “He knows me and my system, and I have a high level of trust in him because I’ve known him for so long. Even longer than I’ve known my assistant coaches.”

Hill left USF after Roberts’ sophomore season with the programme, and took the position at ASU.

“It’s very difficult to put some kind of benchmark on how much impact Justin has had on this program because he’s had a bigger impact than he even realises, or probably that I even realise,” Hill said. “He was a much-needed piece of the puzzle this year that I don’t even think I knew at the time.”

ASU is currently on a six-match win streak and in doubles play, Roberts has ten wins this season as a part of two different pairings.

The Sun Devils as a team are also on a role as of late after posting a perfect 4-0 record last week over Delaware, No 42 Oregon, Washington and GCU. The wins bring ASU over the .500 mark in both their overall and conference record as they begin to set their sights toward the post-season.

“It’s exciting to see us moving in the right direction at the right time of year because it’s something that we talk about all the time,” Hill said. “It doesn’t always happen that way, so it’s amazing to see for sure.”

For their efforts last week, the squad moved up one spot in the team ranking to 31.

Prior to the season, he tore a ligament in his right wrist and had an eventual bone avulsion where a piece of the bone broke off on its joint. He eventually had it reattached.

“I think I handled the injury and being out for about nine months competition and seven months playing tennis very well. It was hard in the beginning but I kept up with my fitness and mental side of the game and I feel I came back better in some things than I was before, which is always a positive,” he said.