The Purdue men's tennis team is about to face the toughest schedule it has had in years, and it's ready to take it head on.
The team will be facing off against 10 or 11 of the Top 25 teams in the nation this season, including upcoming matches with Georgia and Texas.
"Our strengths are that we can play the upset," said junior Gergely Madarasz. "They (Bulldogs and Longhorns) are not that far ahead of us, and I think we can surprise them."
The team has been practicing together for the last two weeks its upcoming season.
Madarasz and senior Ricky Medinilla are huge assets for the team, coming in as the No. 4 doubles team in the nation, and Madarasz the No. 40 singles player in the nation. Their doubles ranking is a first for the team.
Medinilla said the team can use the challenge to motivate itself.
"We're just going to play to our maximum potential."
He has been looking forward to this season, viewing the strength of it as the strongest he's seen in all his years with the team.
"This is our most challenging schedule since my freshman year and I think that's exciting," said Medinilla. "We're underdogs, but we have an unbelievable team."
Head coach Pawel Gajdzik developed the schedule three years in advance and is happy to see the timing for the challenge.
"This year we hit the right schedule with the right team we're going to have."
To him, the team is in the best shape in many years and has the potential to go all the way to the NCAA tournament this year.
The most important thing that this schedule will bring is experience for the team.
"This will give our guys a lot of experience," Gajdzik said. "This is going to give us better post season play. ... Once you play the top five or four in the nation, No. 15 doesn't look so scary."
Senior Benjamin Ugarte is currently ranked No. 70 in the nation overall and values the challenges that will be brought throughout his final season with the team.
He views the combination of a willingness to perform from the freshmen of the team and the knowledge and experience that the upperclassmen bring to the court as what will ultimately put them over the teams they face off with.
"I think we may have one of the most talented rosters that Purdue has ever had, but we all know that's not enough," Ugarte said. "We have a good combination of players."
What helps the team is how collegiate tennis does not worry too much about solely wins and losses, but rather the rankings of the teams one faces in deciding how to place teams for the NCAA tournament.
This method of ranking teams is what gives Ugarte and Gajdzik more hope about the overall chance this team has this year.
Still, the team has their experiences from years before and are prepared to face with the possibility of losing a match or two against strong opponents.
"Being realistic, we are going to face adversity, we are going to lose a few tough matches ... but even if we lose, it's a great opportunity," Ugarte said. "The last three seasons have been really different."
The team will start its season at noon Saturday at home in Schwartz Tennis Center against Ball State and then have a double header with Chicago State at 4:30 p.m.