Jan. 2, 2014
WACO, Texas - The Baylor men's tennis team will open the 2014 season ranked No. 8 with a total of four ranked singles players, after the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) unveiled its first rankings of the new season on Thursday.
"Our guys have worked hard and they have gotten better," head coach Matt Knoll said. "We have a lot to prove and look forward to a big season."
The team ranking of No. 8 is four spots better than the No. 12 ranking that the Bears earned to end the 2013 campaign and their highest ranking to start a season since being No. 5 in 2012. Last year, Baylor posted a 22-6 record and made the Round of 16 of the NCAA Championships for a 12th consecutive season. BU finished in the top-20 for a 12th-straight year as well.
In 2014, the Bears will be looking to capture their 12th Big 12 regular season title in the last 15 years and the eighth league tournament crown in the last 13 years.
The four ranked Baylor singles players are headlined by three student-athletes in the top 20, including the country's No. 2 ranked player in sophomore Julian Lenz. Senior Patrick Pradella is seventh, while juniors Diego Galeano and Tony Lupieri are 18th and 92nd, respectively.
Lenz was 9-2 in fall play, after receiving a ranking of No. 38 in the preseason. He won the singles title at the Baylor H-E-B Intercollegiate and reached the semifinals of the ITA All-American. In 2013, Lenz completed his inaugural year at BU with a 27-10 record overall. He was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and the ITA Texas Region Rookie of the Year.
Pradella was 16th in the last installment of the rankings and then proceeded to post a 9-4 record in fall play. He advanced to the finals of the Baylor H-E-B Intercollegiate and the quarterfinals of the ITA All-American Championships. Last season, Pradella finished his first season at BU with a 20-6 record and earned the Big 12's Newcomer of the Year award.
Unranked in the September edition of the rankings, Galeano produced a 12-4 record in fall play to bolster his resume. He won the USTA/ITA Texas Regional Championships to earn a trip to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate. It is the first time Galeano has been ranked in his collegiate career. He went 20-5 last season.
Lupieri was ranked 79th prior to enjoying an 11-2 fall season. He won the singles title at the Jack Kramer Intercollegiate. Last season, he posted a 20-6 record in his first season at BU. He was 18-4 in dual-match play, including a 9-2 mark in the No. 4 spot.
Baylor is one of just 10 schools nationally to have both its men's team and women's squad ranked in the top 20. The Lady Bears are 19th nationally.
Baylor is the highest ranked Big 12 team in the rankings.
The Bears will start the 2014 season with individual play at the Sherwood Invitational on Jan. 17, before hosting their first dual-match on Jan. 25 vs. Boise State at noon.
For more information on the Baylor men's tennis team, follow the teams' official twitter account: BaylorMTennis.