March 19, 2009
Waco, TX - Working to the midway point of its nine-match home stand, the seventh-ranked Baylor men's tennis team will host a weekend of tennis action. On Saturday, the Bears will face No. 10 USC at 3 p.m. and then on Sunday Baylor will compete in its third doubleheader of the season. First, the Bears will take on UT-Dallas at 3 p.m. and then later at 6 p.m. Baylor will battle UT-Arlington.
"I don't think playing that many matches is going to be so much of a challenge as I think the level of competition is going to be a challenge," Baylor head coach Matt Knoll said. "USC has arguably the most talented team in the country. They have arguably the best player in the country. They are very, very good all of the way up and down. They have a lot of experience. We are going to have to play our best tennis to have a chance against them."
The Bears are 11-4 on the season going into Saturday's match-up and riding a three-match win streak, after defeating No. 25 Virginia Tech last Sunday and sweeping a home doubleheader on March 4.
Baylor is 9-0 this season at the Baylor Tennis Center with wins over No. 67 Utah, 7-0, No. 58 Georgia Tech, 6-1, No. 62 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 7-0, No. 6 UCLA, 4-3, St. Edwards, 7-0, No. 9 Mississippi 4-3, No. 48 Oklahoma, 6-1, Mary-Hardin Baylor, 7-0 and No. 25 Virginia Tech 6-1.
Baylor now has a home win streak of 13 matches, dating back to a loss on April 16, 2008 to No. 7 Texas, 4-3.
The Trojans will be the Bears' sixth top-10 ranked opponent of the season. Baylor is 2-3 in the five previous matches after falling to third-ranked Ohio State, 7-0 on March 1, downing No. 9 Mississippi, 4-3 on Feb. 27, defeating No. 6 UCLA, 4-3 on Feb. 22, tripping against eighth-ranked Tennessee, 4-0 on Feb. 13, and dropping a 7-0 decision to No. 10 Florida on Jan. 25.
In doubles' play the Bears have a 22-20 record in dual match competition. Recently, the Bears have gone with the duo of David Galic and Jordan Rux at No. 1 doubles. The pair is 3-3, after winning their last three matches. At No. 2 doubles Baylor head coach Matt Knoll has lately been playing Attila Bucko and Marc Bruche, who are 3-5 this spring. At the No. 3 spot the Bears have junior Denes Lukacs and freshman Maros Horny, who are 4-2 when partnered together. The Bears are 7-0 when they win the doubles point, but just 4-4 when they fall in doubles.
"We continue to examine our doubles," Knoll said. "We have to continue to experiment with different partnerships and tactics. That is something we've just got to keep working on. "
In singles, ITA All-American and sixth-ranked Lukacs has led the Bears to a 57-29 mark in dual match competition. The junior is 9-3 with all of his matches coming at the No. 1 singles slot. In the No. 2 position, No. 49 Rux is 8-6 and at the third spot senior Galic returned to Bears line-up last Sunday to win his match and raise his season record to 3-0. Two juniors occupy the fourth and fifth slots in the Bears lineup as Dominik Mueller is 8-5 and Bucko is 9-4. At the No. 6 position, Horny is 10-3 on the season.
"We are doing a better job of how we manage intensity. (We need to be) bold and dynamic without being over-juiced. I think that is going to be a huge key for us," Knoll said. "I have been really pleased that we have had guys knock guys out quickly. I think that says a lot for their mindset."
The USC Trojans come into the Saturday match sporting a 12-3 spring record.
The Trojans will play No. 15 Texas A&M on Thursday in College Station, before their match with the Bears on Saturday.
In their last action, USC took down No. 29 Tulsa on Monday, 5-2, after defeating No. 30 Texas Tech on March 12, 4-3. This year the Trojans have been ranked as high as No. 6 with wins over No. 2 Texas and No. 9 Mississippi.
"We've got to just look at USC. We got our hands full with them," Knoll said. "They are probably under-ranked at 10. We are going to have to be really locked on to have a chance to win that match."
The USC squad has four players in the latest ITA National Rankings, Robert Farah, who is ranked No. 4, 75th-ranked Abdullah Magdas, No. 92 Steve Johnson, and No. 101 Jaak Poldma.
Farrah and Johnson are also ranked, as the sixth best doubles team in the country.
The Bears are 4-3 all-time versus USC, but dropped last season's contest to the Trojans.
On Sunday, Baylor will host its third doubleheader of the year. The Bears are 4-0 in double-header matches this year.
At 3 p.m. the Bears face the UT-Dallas Comets, who are 2-6 in the spring. Baylor is 2-1 versus the Comets all-time, but hasn't played them since 1979.
The Bears are 2-0 this season against non-Division I opponents.
In later action at 6 p.m. Baylor takes on the UT-Arlington Mavericks, who are 7-5 on the year. The Bears are 7-5 against the Mavericks all-time, but have won the last six contests dating back to 1997.
Next week Baylor will host No. 2 Stanford in the HP CUP match on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Then the Bears will face No. 54 Virginia Commonwealth on Friday, March 27 at 3 p.m. and No. 17 Pepperdine will come to town on Sunday, March 29 at 1 p.m.
Live stats for the all of the matches can be found on Baylorbears.com.