Feb. 11, 2010
WACO, Texas- The sixth-ranked men's tennis team will begin play in the 2010 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship, Friday when the Bears take on the 11th-ranked Florida Gators at the Boars Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va.
The Gators and Bears will begin play at 9 a.m. (ET) in the event that is hosted by the University of Virginia. Baylor will then face either 16th-ranked Louisville or No. 3 Ohio State at 9 a.m. (ET) on Saturday depending on the outcome of Friday's matches.
Live updates of the first-round match against Florida and the rest of the championship will be available at the official website of the 2010 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship at www.itatennis.com.
TOURNAMENT FACTS: The University of Virginia will be looking to make it three in a row after being crowned champion the past two years. The ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship is the ITA's longest running national championship, which dates back to 1973. Stanford has won the most titles with 12 and is followed by UCLA with seven. A team that has reached the Indoor final has gone on to win the NCAA crown 15 times since 1973.
SCOUTING FLORIDA: The 11th-ranked Gators come into the 2010 ITA National Team Indoor Championship sporting a 4-1 record. Florida's only loss was to Baylor on January 24. Since that loss, the Gators are on a three-match win streak, shutting out Furman, 4-0, Georgia Tech, 7-0 and Florida Atlantic, 7-0. In their opening match of the season Florida blanked Central Florida, 7-0. Andy Jackson, who is in his ninth season as the Gators coach, has a roster of one senior, two juniors, three sophomores, one red-shirt sophomore and three freshmen. The Gators are coming off a year that saw them go 18-9 (8-5 in SEC play) and advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament. It was Florida's 19th consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:Florida is led by sophomore Alex Lacroix and freshman Sekou Bangoura, Jr. Lacroix, who earned All-SEC honors in 2009, is 4-1 on the year and is currently ranked seventh in the ITA singles rankings, while teaming up with red shirt sophomore Antoine Benneteau to be ranked 10th in doubles. Bangoura is also 4-1 on the young season with his only loss coming to Baylor's Attila Bucko.
SERIES RECORD:The Bears hold a 5-3 series advantage over the Gators in a rivalry that dates back to 2004. Since 2004, the two have played each other once every season except for in 2005 when they played twice. Baylor won the first three matches, but Florida has taken three of the last five. At home the Bears are 2-1 against Florida, while in Gainesville the Gators hold a 2-1 series lead. The Bears are 2-0 in neutral site meetings.
LAST TIME AGAINST FLORIDA:The Gators and the Bears met earlier this year in Waco on Sunday, Jan. 24 with the Bears taking a 5-2 victory. In doubles, the Bears won at courts two and three to earn the point and in singles Maros Horny, Attila Bucko, Jordan Rux and Denes Lukacs all won their matches.
LAST TIME OUT:In its last match before the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, the sixth-ranked Bears defeated the University of Texas-Pan American Broncs, 7-0, on Tuesday at the Baylor Tennis Center. The Bears took all three doubles matches and won each singles match in straight sets.
BAYLOR AT THE ITA NATIONAL TEAM INDOOR:This weekend will mark the Bears' ninth appearance and eight straight at the National Team Indoor Championships. Baylor won the championship in 2005 and has a 16-9 record at the Team Indoors. Last season, the Bears lost their first match to No. 8 Tennessee, 4-0 before rebounding to beat No. 20 Pepperdine, 4-3. In their last match of the tournament that was held in Chicago the Bears fell to No. 12 Illinois, 4-2.
BAYLOR SWEEPS ITA KICK-OFF WEEKEND PLAY: The Bears advanced to this weekend's event by taking down No. 58 Iowa, 7-0, on Sunday, Jan. 31 and then beating No. 38 TCU, 7-0 on Monday, Feb. 1 in the finals of the Kick-Off Weekend in Waco.
SHUTTING OUT THE COMPETITION: In five matches this spring Baylor has blanked its opponent four times. The wins have all been 7-0 victories over Louisiana Lafayette, No. 58 Iowa, No. 38 TCU and the University of Texas-Pan American. All of last season the Bears only had eight 7-0 wins and blanked only 10 opponents.
FAST START:The Bears are off to a 5-0 start to the season for the seventh time in Matt Knoll's 14 years at Baylor. Before Knoll arrived the Bears had only started a season at least 5-0 four times in 27 years. Baylor's best start to a season came in 2005 when the Bears reeled off 33 straight before losing in the national championship match to UCLA.
CURRENT STREAKS AND TRENDS:Overall, the Bears have won 20 of 21 matches dating back to last season. Senior Denes Lukacs has won 20 of his last 23 matches, while sophomore Maros Horny has triumphed in 19 of his last 21 dual matches.
Quotes- Head Coach Matt Knoll
On playing at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship...
"We are looking for great opportunities to play great teams. We know we are going to play at least three great matches that will help us a ton. I think we will learn a lot about ourselves."
On the atmosphere at this weekend's event...
"What is nice about this tournament is it is a 16-team event, so it kind of mirrors our final site at the NCAAs in the spring. You get a sense of what it is like to be in that atmosphere. You get to see other teams play and then you play and then two other teams come on to the same court. There is a lot of action. I think that is good experience for our guys and particularly for our younger guys. You also kind of get to see how you are doing from a tennis level standpoint compared to everyone else."
"We have a big challenge playing Florida on Friday and we are really excited about it. It is just another really good opportunity for us to play a top team and hopefully we will come out and play a good match."
On the advantage of facing the Gators for a second time...
"I think it is kind of neutral. It is inside, which is way different. Their lineup has changed a lot since we have played them, so there aren't going to be many of the same match-ups. We have added a guy to our doubles which hopefully will help us. We play Florida every year any way, so it is not like we don't kind of know their guys."