Feb. 20, 2009
The 12th-ranked Baylor's men's tennis team will return home for a doubleheader on Sunday, Feb. 22. The Bears will take on the sixth-ranked UCLA Bruins at 2 p.m. and then follow with a 6 p.m. match against St. Edward's, the 24th-ranked team in Division II.
"Once we kind of get all the pieces in place, I think we are going to be pretty good," Baylor head coach Matt Knoll said. "We need that to happen sooner than later because if we don't have all our spots cranking we're not very good."
The Bears (5-3) have won all three home matches of the spring season, all of which have come over ranked opponents; No. 67 Utah, 7-0, No. 58 Georgia Tech, 6-1, and No. 62 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 7-0.
The doubleheader contest will be the first for the Bears since they beat Laredo College, 5-2, and Memphis, 6-1, on March 29, 2008.
Also on Sunday, Knoll will be searching for his 300th win; he currently sits at 299 victories for his 14-year coaching career.
In doubles play the Bears have a 10-11 record in spring competition, however they enter Sunday's matches having lost the doubles point in their last three matches.
In the Bears' last match of the ITA Indoor Championships against Illinois last weekend, Knoll substituted freshman Marc Bruche into the No. 2 doubles team to partner with Attila Bucko for freshman Julian Bley. While Baylor lost the point Knoll was pleased with what he saw.
"We thought Hammer (Marc Bruche), would give us a little more offense which he did," Knoll said. "So I think he kind of earned himself an opportunity. I am excited about seeing what he and Attila (Bucko) can do together."
In singles, ITA All-American and 10th-ranked Denes Lukacs is riding a four-match win streak that has produced a 4-2-spring record. Baylor's two other ranked players have struggled recently with No. 38 Jordan Rux and No. 121 Bley both falling in three straight matches to post 4-4 records. Two juniors occupy the four and five positions in the Bears lineup as, Dominik Mueller is 5-2, and Bucko is 4-3 in singles play. Maros Horny, a freshman has won five straight matches at the No. 6 spot to open up the dual match season with a 5-1 record.
"Denes (Lukacs) is back on track, he is doing great," Knoll said. "We expect that from him and I expect we will see the same thing from Jordan (Rux), Attila (Bucko) and these other guys that have been struggling."
The Bruins are 6-2 in dual match competition. After starting with six straight wins, UCLA lost its final two matches at the ITA Indoor Championships to No. 5 Virginia (4-3) and No. 1 Ohio State (4-0). However, at the Indoors the Bruins beat Illinois 4-2 two days before the 13th-ranked Illini defeated Baylor 4-2.
"Another unbelievable match, they are a top five team and we are going to have to play well," Knoll said. "We just have to come out and be ready to take advantage of our opportunities and get some guys on track."
The Bruins are led by three ranked players: No. 52 Matt Brooklyn, a junior, No. 74 Haythem Abid, a junior, and No. 93 Michael Look, a senior.
The Bears are 4-2 all-time versus the Bruins, but fell in last season's match, 4-3, in Los Angeles.
The Bears added the 24th-ranked team in division II to their schedule last week. The contest will help the Bears prepare for a tough stretch of matches against No. 9 Mississippi on Feb. 27, No. 3 Ohio State on March 1, and No. 1 Virginia, March 13, with a conference opener against No. 57 Oklahoma squeezed in on March 4.
"It gives us a chance to play some guys that haven't played," Knoll said. "It also gives us a chance to get a match for David (Galic), since he has been hurt."
The St. Edward's Hilltoppers are 1-1 on the season and will play two home matches before traveling to Waco on Sunday. St. Edward's will play Dallas Baptist on Friday and then Lamar on Saturday.
The Bears are 12-1 versus the Hilltoppers all-time and have won the last four meetings, including a 7-0 victory in Waco on April 10, 2007.
Live stats for the matches can be found on Baylorbears.com.