April 23, 2009
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WACO, TX- The seventh-ranked Baylor men's tennis team will travel to the Big 12 Championships for a Saturday noon match-up against Oklahoma State in Norman, Okla. at the Headington Family Tennis Center. Fourth-seed Oklahoma State reached the semifinals of the tournament with a 4-3 win over fifth-seed Texas Tech on Friday.
"We hope to play better," Baylor head coach Matt Knoll said. "I think we have to recognize we are involved in a process. We are getting closer to the end of the process, but we can't lose sight of what the objectives are and those are to continue to improve."
The Bears are coming off a 7-0 win over No. 24 Oklahoma State on Sunday, April 19 in Waco where they clinched their eighth straight Big 12 regular season title and their ninth in the last 10 years, which gave them the No. 1 seed in the tournament and a first-round bye.
"If you asked anybody at the end of February if we were going to be Big 12 champs, they weren't many people betting on us and that is because we hadn't played that well," Knoll said. "We have improved. We are playing better, but I think we are still in the process of becoming the team we want to be."
The win raised Baylor's record to 21-5 overall and 6-0 in conference play. Currently the Bears are on a 10-match win streak and have won 16 of their last 18 matches.
"It hasn't been the kind of year where we settle in and hand out the beatings all year," Knoll said. "We really had to overcome some stuff and improve to be in the position we are in."
In Big 12 play this season Baylor was 6-0, after cruising by No. 48 Oklahoma, 6-1 on March 4 in Waco, dominating No. 11 Texas, 6-1, in Austin on April 2, edging Nebraska, 4-3, in Lincoln on April 4, and taking out Texas A&M, 5-2 on April 8, blanking Texas Tech, 7-0, in Lubbock on April 14, before dropping Oklahoma State. Baylor won the doubles point in all six of those matches with its No. 1 doubles pairing of Galic and Rux sporting a 5-1 mark. In singles' play Lukacs has recorded a perfect 6-0 record while playing at the No. 1 position. In the past 12-plus seasons of Big 12 regular season play, the Bears have tallied an 82-13 record and over the last seven-plus seasons the Bears are 51-2.
In the last 12 years of Big 12 Championship play the Bears have garnered six first place, three second place, two third place and one fifth place finish. This season Baylor will be trying to win its third consecutive title and its seventh in the last eight years. The Bears have brought the title to Waco in 2002-05 and 2007-08. Last season the Bears steamrolled their way to a title defeating Nebraska, 4-0, No. 20 Oklahoma State, 4-1 and No. 6 Texas, 4-2. The Bears are 26-6 all-time in Big 12 Tournament play and over the past seven seasons they are 19-1.
"We have gone to this tournament sometimes and not seen it as an opportunity to gain anything," Knoll said. "We have to see it as one a chance to improve our NCAA seeding, but more than that to get better."
In doubles' play this season the Bears have a 45-30 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 21st in the country and is 10-5, after winning 10 of its last 12 matches. At No. 2 doubles freshman Maros Horny and junior Denes Lukacs have partnered together for a 11-6 record this spring. In No. 3 doubles, Julian Bley and Dominik Mueller have posted an 9-5 record.
In singles, ITA All-American and fourth-ranked Lukacs has led the Bears to a 107-43 mark in dual match competition. The junior is 19-3 and riding a 13-match win streak with all of his matches coming at the No. 1 singles slot. At the No. 2 singles position 43rd-ranked Rux has a 14-8 record. In the last three matches Mueller, a junior, has played at the No. 3 spot, and has a 17-6 record this spring. Junior Attila Bucko, 15-7 and Bley have traded places the last few matches between the fourth and fifth positions. Bley has won seven of his last eight contests and is 13-7 overall. At No. 6, Horny is 19-5 on the season and has won nine of his last 10 matches.