Jan. 12, 2011
WACO, Texas - The seventh-ranked Baylor men's tennis team will commence its 2011 spring season on Friday with eight athletes slated to open play at the Sherwood Collegiate Cup in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The four day competition will run until Monday and will include the Bears and three other teams ranked inside the ITA's top 10: No. 2 USC, No. 6 UCLA and No. 8 Stanford.
"What is great about this tournament is that every single player in the draw is good," head coach Matt Knoll said. "It is going to be a great tournament for us. The atmosphere is great and we are going to play seven to 10 matches each in singles and doubles. I just can't think of a better way to prepare for your dual match season than going out and getting all of these high level matches."
The tournament, held at the Sherwood Country Club, will feature a 32-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles bracket. The eight players being sent to the event by BU is an all-time high for the program.
The Bears will be led into the tournament by senior John Peers, who is ranked No. 22 by the ITA after a 10-4 mark in fall play. However, the Bears have plenty of firepower behind Peers with the return of seniors Jordan Rux and Sergio Ramirez, junior Julian Bley and sophomore Roberto Maytin. Junior transfer Kike Grangeiro will be playing in his first spring action for BU, while freshmen Robert Verzaal and Dennis Lengsfeld will also be getting their first experience in spring play.
Ramirez was 8-4 during the fall season, while Bley and Maytin were 5-4 and 6-6, respectively. Grangeiro was 6-3 and Verzaal finished 3-7 in their first action for Baylor. Rux and Lengsfeld will be playing in their first matches this year, after the senior sat out the fall semester and the freshman joined the program at the start of January.
Bley and Ramirez will be making their second trip to the Sherwood Cup, while for Rux it will be his third time to play in the event. The other five Bears will be getting their first chance at the exclusive tournament. For their careers, Bley and Ramirez are 1-2 each and Rux is 4-3 at the Sherwood Cup.
The Bears will be playing in the tournament for the ninth time in 10 years after not participating in the 2009 tournament. Baylor has had success in the event including the 2008 singles champion in Lars Poerschke and the 2008 doubles champions in Attila Bucko and Denes Lukacs, as well as the 2006 singles championship won by Matija Zgaga.
In California, Baylor will be up against some of the best competition in the country as two-time defending NCAA champion USC has a roster that features five ranked players: No. 6 Steve Johnson, No. 18 Daniel Nguyen, No. 84 Peter Lucassen, No. 91 Ray Sarmiento and No. 94 Jaak Poldma. The UCLA contingent at the event will feature 64th-ranked Maxime Tabatruong and 86th-ranked Amit Inbar, while Stanford has the defending NCAA singles champion in 15th-ranked Bradley Klahn,as well as No. 41 Ryan Thacher and 61st-ranked Alex Clayton.
"If I am going to it as a player I am not really looking at the draw," Knoll said. "I am just getting ready to play a good player every match. There is really not much to think about. The No. 6, 7 or 8 guy on any of those teams is a very good college player and clearly some of the top guys are All-Americans and some of the best players in the country."
In doubles, Baylor will have four teams competing as the fourth-ranked tandem of Maytin and Peers headlines the group. Rux will play with Grangeiro, Bley teams with Lengsfeld, and Ramirez and Verzaal will partner together to round out the four BU duos.
The team's first dual match of the season will be on Thursday, Jan. 20, when the Bears host Louisiana-Lafayette at 3 p.m.
Draws for the Sherwood Collegiate Cup are still being finalized, but as soon as they are completed, they will be posted online at BaylorBears.com.
BaylorBears.com will have a full recap and complete results of the action at the end of each day of competition.