April 12, 2009
The seventh-ranked Baylor men's tennis team will look to claim a share of its eighth straight Big 12 regular season title when the Bears travel to face No. 35 Texas Tech, Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Don and Ethel McLeod Tennis Center in Lubbock.
"They (Texas Tech) are in the underdog role, where they can relax and come after us," Baylor head coach Matt Knoll said. "We haven't been good on the road, so it is going to be a big challenge for us to play a good match in a tough environment."
The Bears hold a 19-5 dual match record and have also won 13 of their last 15 matches overall. However, Baylor is just 4-4 away from the Baylor Tennis Center this season, although the Bears have won two straight on the road. Currently, Baylor is on an eight match win streak.
"Those people out in Lubbock want to beat Baylor, whether we are playing football, tennis or tiddlywinks," Knoll said. "So people are going to come out and cheer for their team, but that is what makes it fun to be a college athlete."
In their last match out, Baylor beat No. 12 Texas A&M, 5-2 on Wednesday at the Baylor Tennis Center. The win was the 80th all-time for Baylor in Big 12 regular season action, as the Bears improved their record to 80-13 over 12-plus season of conference play and 49-2 over the last seven-plus seasons.
In doubles' play this season the Bears have a 41-28 record in dual match competition. In their last match the Bears went with the duo of David Galic and Jordan Rux at No. 1 doubles. The pair is ranked 74th in the country and is 9-4, after winning nine of its last 10 matches. At No. 2 doubles freshman Maros Horny and junior Denes Lukacs have partnered together for a 10-5 record this spring. In No. 3 doubles, Julian Bley and Dominik Mueller have posted a 7-4 record.
"Our No. 1 team has played well lately and that has been fantastic," Knoll said. "We just want to get everybody together. We need to learn to help each other a little more."
In singles, ITA All-American and seventh-ranked Lukacs has led the Bears to a 95-43 mark in dual match competition. The junior is 17-3 and riding an 11-match win streak with all of his matches coming at the No. 1 singles slot. At the No. 2 singles position 44th-ranked Rux has a 12-8 record. In the last three matches Mueller, a junior, has played at the No. 3 spot, and has a 15-6 record this spring. Mueller had a win streak of eight matches snapped April 8 against A&M. At the fourth slot junior Attila Bucko is 13-7. In the last match freshman Bley re-entered the Bears line-up in the No. 5 position after sitting out three matches. He has won five of his last six contests. At No. 6, Horny is 17-5 on the season and has won seven of his last eight matches.
"It is a long year and so you have some ups and downs mixed in," Knoll said. "What we are trying to do is get everybody on the same page down the stretch and hopefully guys continue to improve. We got to get everybody dialed in at the same time."
In Big 12 play so far this season Baylor is 4-0, after cruising by No. 48 Oklahoma, 6-1 on March 4 in Waco, dominating No. 11 Texas, 6-1, in Austin on April 2, and edging Nebraska, 4-3, in Lincoln on April 4, before taking out Texas A&M on April 8. Baylor has won the doubles point in all four of those matches with its No. 1 doubles pairing of Galic and Rux sporting a 4-0 mark. In singles' play Lukacs has recorded a perfect 4-0 record while playing at the No. 1 position. Baylor will close out conference play by hosting Oklahoma State on April 19. The Bears are also the only unbeaten team remaining in Big 12 conference action with two matches left.
"Our league is as good as any," Knoll said. "It is important to do well here. It is fun for our guys to play the matches against our rivals and fun for the fans."
The Red Raiders enter the Tuesday evening match sporting a 12-8 record this spring and a 1-2 record in Big 12 Conference action.
In their last match out the Raiders beat No. 55 Nebraska, 5-2, in Lincoln on Sunday afternoon. The win snapped a two-match losing streak for Texas Tech as the Red Raiders had fallen to No. 11 Texas 4-3 and No. 14 Texas A&M 5-2 to start conference play.
The Tuesday evening tilt versus the Bears will be the first conference match at home for Texas Tech, but on the season the Red Raiders are 3-0 in Lubbock.
The Bears are 18-25 all-time versus the Red Raiders, but since Matt Knoll took over as head coach in 1997 Baylor is a perfect 14-0 against Tech. In their last match-up the Bears downed the 20th-ranked Raiders 5-2 in Waco on April 19, 2008.
The Red Raiders have only one ranked player: No. 58 Raony Carvalho, who is also part of the 12th-ranked doubles team in the country with Christian Rojmar. On the season Carvalho is 12-6 and the doubles' team is 12-5.
"They always have a tough environment, because of the altitude and their courts are very different than ours, their courts are very fast, so together with the altitude and the speed of the courts, you have got a very different playing environment and they have good players," Knoll said