Playing in the fourth Australian Open of his career former Baylor men's tennis star Benjamin Becker earned his second career win at the event on Monday with a 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4 victory over 23rd-ranked Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.
The 55th-ranked Becker will now face the world's 46th-ranked player in Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine on Wednesday. For match times visit the Australian Open's official web site.
Becker's other victory at the event came last year when he beat Greg Zemlja in first round action. The German native was then knocked out of the event by Spain's 25th-ranked Nicolas Almagro in five sets. Becker also competed in the Australian Open in 2007 and 2008, but lost in first round action.
The 29-year old Becker has been a pro since 2005 and holds a career 9-15 mark in Grand Slam events with his best finish being a fourth round appearance at the 2006 US Open. Becker turned pro after leading Baylor to the 2004 NCAA team title and winning the NCAA singles title that same year. He still holds the school's mark for most career wins with 141.
The seventh-ranked men's tennis team returned Monday from an eight day trip to Argentina to kickoff its spring competition season. While in South America, the Bears spent most of their time training and bonding with new teammates. Baylor was able to utilize the new tennis facility built by former professional Guillermo Coria in Rosario, Argentina, for the majority of its training.
"We just got a ton done," head coach Matt Knoll said. "They had a great facility to work out in, but to be honest, it was great to have the time to be able to play a little more tennis."
The facility features clay courts, which allowed for a lot of long points, while the summer weather was ideal for the team to practice in throughout the day.
Knoll sent his players home for the Christmas break with the charge to be in shape when they returned to Waco. The team answered the call, allowing Knoll and his staff to spend more time in Argentina playing tennis instead of conditioning.
"It is not fun to condition all of the time, but this team came back in shape and we did not have to go down there and just condition the whole time, which is way more fun for all of us."
Baylor takes a preseason trip every year, but NCAA rules allow the program to take one international trip every four years. In past years the Bears have traveled to New Zealand, Hawai'i and last year to San Antonio.
Knoll believes that the trips give his team "a huge jump on the season just getting to hit a lot of balls and a huge leg up in terms of team bonding."
The trip was organized through former Baylor letterwinner Matias Marin, who lives in Rosario, Argentina.
"Matias was unbelievably gracious arranging things and helping us organize everything," Knoll said. "The thing about Argentina is basically no one speaks English, so you need a little help and it certainly helped that we had a couple Spanish speakers in our group."
Baylor will start spring play on Friday when the team travels to Southern California for the Sherwood Invitational. The Bears first dual match is Jan. 20 against Louisiana-Lafayette in Waco at 3 p.m.
In first round action at the Brisbane International former Baylor men's tennis standout Benjamin Becker (2001-05) handed ninth-ranked Fernando Verdasco a 6-1, 6-7 (2-7), 6-3 loss. The win is Becker's third against Verdasco during his career and moves the German's record to 6-17 against opponents ranked inside the top 10.
The win on Tuesday places the 53rd-ranked Becker into the second round where he will face Santiago Giraldo of Columbia.
For more on the match see the full story at www.atptour.com.
At Baylor, Becker helped lead the Bears to the 2004 NCAA team title and then won the individual singles title that same year. He finished with the most career singles victories in school history with 141, while also garnering three selections as an ITA All-American.
Baylor women's tennis signee Megan Horter completed a spectacular string of play, winning the elite USTA Cotton Bowl tournament and only dropping one set along the way.
Horter took down University of Tennessee freshman Millie Nichols in the final, battling back from a 3-6 first-set loss. The Southlake, Texas, native found her stroke in the next two sets, winning 6-3, 6-0.
Horter will join Baylor for the 2011-12 season as one of highest-rated recruits in the country. The Southlake Carroll product is a five-star recruit by TennisRecruiting.net, being rated the No. 31-ranked player nationally and No. 2-ranked player in Texas.
In 2010, Horter put together a fantastic season on the court, following a win at the ITF Grade 5 event in Waco, Texas, with a USTA Texas Excellence title over the No. 1-ranked player in Texas. A first team all-district singles and doubles player at Carroll, Horter also earned the Maureen Connolly Brinker Sportsmanship Award from the USTA. The award is given to a Super Championships Girl for outstanding sportsmanship and fair play both on and off the court, and is voted on by the players at the Texas Summer Grand Slam.