May 12, 2011
The fifth-ranked Baylor men's tennis team will open the 2011 NCAA Championships by hosting first and second round action at the Baylor Tennis Center for the eighth time in the last nine years.
The Bears start their journey for a second NCAA title by facing No. 70 Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Friday at 1 p.m. The winner of the Bears and Islanders match will then face the victor of the Texas Tech-Rice match on Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Bears enter NCAA play with a 19-4 record, after bowing out of the 2011 Big 12 Championships to 25th-ranked Oklahoma on April 30. This season, the Bears are 15-3 at home and 4-1 on the road.
BAYLOR IN NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY: This will be Baylor's 14th straight NCAA appearance under 15th-year head coach Matt Knoll. The Bears have racked up a 38-12 (.760) record in NCAA action, while claiming the university's first ever team national championship in 2004. Before the title run, the Bears had reached the quarterfinals in both 1999 and 2003, the round of 16 in 2000 and 2002 and had tournament appearances in 1998 and 2001. After the championship, Baylor has continued to experience success clawing its way back to the title match in 2005, before losing to UCLA, 4-3. Following the championship match loss the Bears got back to the semifinals in 2006 and 2007, losing by 4-3 scores each year. For the past three years, the Bears have advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals.
LAST YEAR AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: An eighth-ranked and seventh-seeded Baylor squad rolled through first and second round action in Waco by shutting out both Oral Roberts and Rice. The Bears then made the trip to Athens, Ga. where they beat a 10th-ranked Texas A&M squad, 4-1. Second-ranked Tennessee ended Baylor's title run with a 4-0 sweep of the Bears in the quarterfinal round on May 23.
WHEN HOSTING THE CHAMPIONSHIPS: This season will mark the ninth time that BU has hosted first and second round NCAA action. The Bears started their NCAA Championship runs in 2000, `03-'08 and `10 at the Baylor Tennis Center, as well. In NCAA Championship matches played in Waco, the Bears are 16-0 with 12 of those matches being 4-0 sweeps.
WHEN BEING A TOP FIVE NATIONAL SEED: Baylor enters the 2011 tournament as the No. 5 national seed marking the seventh time that the Bears have been seeded among the nation's top-five teams. Baylor was the No. 5 seed in 2000, the No. 2 in 2003, the No. 3 in 2004 and `07, the No. 4 seed in 2006 and the No. 1 seed in 2005. Overall, the Bears have now been seeded 11 out of the 14 years they have been selected for the NCAA Championships. Baylor was unseeded in 1998, 1999 and 2001.
TEAM STREAKS & TRENDS: The loss to Oklahoma snapped a streak of 11 straight wins for Baylor, but the Bears have still won 17 of their last 19. During that stretch, Baylor's only other loss came against No. 1 ranked Virginia, while the Bears have recorded wins over then-No. 1 Tennessee, No. 28 Louisville, No. 8 Stanford, No. 17 Texas Tech, No. 39 Nebraska, No. 8 Texas, No. 26 Oklahoma and No. 6 Texas A&M.
SINGLES STREAKS & TRENDS: Senior John Peers has dropped his last two matches, but he has been consistent at the top of the lineup this season. Peers is now 17-5 in 21 matches at No. 1 and one match at No. 2. The rest of Baylor's singles lineup has been in flux throughout the year. As part of the changes Roberto Maytin has played at three different positions, but has recorded a 16-4 mark with 15 wins in his last 18 matches. Kike Grangeiro has also played well for the Bears with an 17-4 record competing at the three, four, five and six spots. Senior Jordan Rux has come on strong for the Bears at the end of the season winning his last six matches at the No. 3 spot.
DOUBLES STREAKS & TRENDS: The Bears dropped the doubles point in their last match out for the first time since Jan. 23 at Florida to snap a streak of 20 straight doubles points won. Throughout the year, BU has gotten consistent play from all three of its doubles teams. Headlining that talent at the top of the lineup are Roberto Maytin and John Peers, who are 17-2 with seven straight wins. At the No. 2 spot Sergio Ramirez and Jordan Rux are 14-4, while at the bottom of the lineup Julian Bley and Kike Grangeiro have a 15-4 mark.
RANKED BEARS: In the latest ITA team rankings released on May 2, BU stayed at the No. 5 spot, after the loss to Oklahoma. Individually, Baylor has five singles players ranked in the ITA top-125 as senior John Peers is ranked No. 19 with a 17-5 record in dual-match play. Senior Sergio Ramirez comes in at No. 68, while junior Kike Grangeiro (17-4) is now ranked No. 97. Freshman Dennis Lengsfeld is No. 98. and sophomore Roberto Maytin, who has a 16-4 mark in dual-match play, is ranked 102nd. The Bears also have two doubles team listed in the rankings with Peers and Maytin partnering together to be ranked fifth, after posting a 17-2 record. Ramirez and Jordan Rux, who are 14-4 on the season, are ranked No. 52.
SCOUTING TEXAS A&M CORPUS CHRISTI: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is making its fifth appearance in the NCAA Championships and its first since 2009. The Islanders have a 14-9 overall record and made the NCAA Championships by going a perfect 5-0 to win the Southland Conference crown. Steve Moore is in his sixth-season as the head coach of the Islanders and he has assembled a roster that features two seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and one freshman.
SERIES HISTORY: Baylor has reeled off nine straight wins against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, including a 7-0 earlier this season. Before not meeting in 2010, the Bears and Islanders had played each other once every year since 2002 with Baylor going 8-0 in those matches. Overall, BU leads the all-time series 9-6 with TAMU-CC claiming the first six matches of the series from 1970-73. The last loss to Texas A&M Corpus Christi came on March 1, 1973. In Waco, Baylor holds an 9-1 series advantage, while the Islanders, 5-0, have been perfect against the Bears in Corpus Christi.
VS. THE ISLANDERS IN NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY: The Bears and Islanders have never met in NCAA Championship play.
LAST TIME AGAINST TEXAS A&M CORPUS CHRISTI: The Bears rebounded from their first loss of the season with a sweep of Texas A&M Corpus Christ, 7-0, on Jan. 28 at the Baylor Tennis Center. The Bears won all three doubles matches and captured five of the six singles matches in straight sets. The only match that went the distance was that of freshman Dennis Lengsfeld, who was playing in his first dual match for BU.
PRE-MATCH QUOTES - Head coach Matt Knoll
On how his team has prepared for this weekend:
"We really tried to practice as much as we could. When we did practice, we practiced hard. We did a good job of getting our work in and we feel like we have put the hay in the barn and we are ready to play now."
On hosting the first and second rounds:
"I don't know necessarily if it is a huge competitive advantage. I think personally it is a huge advantage. By that I mean, our guys are really into school and to be able to finish finals and not have to worry about moving things around puts you at ease. Now hopefully we can focus more easily on the tennis."
On his team:
"I think we are absolutely at our best this time of year. I think we are exactly where I hoped we would be. I think we are confident and relaxed and ready. I feel we are going to play our best tennis coming up."