ATHENS, Ga. - The Baylor men's tennis team travels to Athens. Ga., for round of 16 action of the NCAA Tennis Championships, hosted by the University of Georgia at the Dan Magill Tennis Center, May 18 - 22.
The Bears, currently ranked No. 25, will take on eighth-ranked and eighth-seeded Duke, in round of 16 action on Friday, May 18 at 8 a.m. (CDT).
The Bears, one of two unseeded teams in the round of 16, advanced to the final team site for the 11th straight season and 13th time overall. Baylor, 19-11 on the season, upset ninth-seeded Mississippi State, 4-3, in Starkville, Miss., on Saturday to earn the right to face Duke.
Head coach Matt Knoll's Bears are led on the season by freshman Mate Zsiga. The 17th-ranked Zsiga owns the team's top record at 36-7 on the season and 22-4 in dual match play. He is 15-7 vs. nationally ranked opponents which includes wins over fifth-ranked Eric Quigley of Kentucky and Oklahoma's 11th-ranked Costin Paval.
SCOUTING THE BLUE DEVILS
The No. 8 Duke Blue Devils, making their 22 appearance in the NCAA Men's Tennis Championships and third straight round of 16 match, will take on Baylor in NCAA Championship round of 16 action. Duke, the tournament's eighth-seeded team, enters the contest with a 24-5 record. The Blue Devils advanced to Athens after downing LSU, 4-1, on Sunday. Duke has three ranked singles players and a rated doubles tandem. The Blue Devils are led by junior Henrique Cunha, a two-time ITA All-American in both singles and doubles. Cunha is ranked No. 5 nationally and is 37-8 on the season and 23-4 in dual match action. Sophomore Chris Mengel is ranked No. 38 with a 30-12 season record and is 16-8 in dual match play while Torsten Wietoska, a senior, ranks No. 115. Cunha and Mengel combine in doubles to rank No. 16 with a 10-4 dual match mark.
The Baylor/Duke winner will advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships and face the winner between top-seeded USC and 16th-seeded Illinois on Sunday, May 20 at 11 a.m. (CDT).
Baylor leads the series vs. Duke, 4-3, including a 4-2 mark under Baylor head coach Matt Knoll. The two teams last met on Feb. 16, 2007, at the National Team Indoors in Chicago, Baylor posted a 4-0 victory.
Baylor and Duke have faced four common opponents this season; Tennessee, UCLA, Florida and Florida State. The Blue Devils posted victories over all four squads while Baylor is 3-1, defeating Florida State, 4-3.
BAYLOR IN NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY
The Bears are 43-13 (.768) overall in NCAA Championships play. This season marks Baylor's 15th straight NCAA appearance under 16th-year head coach Matt Knoll. The Bears claimed 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 four years, the Bears have advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals.
LAST YEAR AT NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
The fifth-seeded Bears hosted the first two rounds of the 2011 NCAA Championships in Waco and advanced to the round of 16 with wins over Texas A&M-CC and Texas Tech. Baylor downed UCLA, 4-3, in the round of 16 but saw its season end in the quarterfinals by No. 4 Ohio State, 4-2.
THE ALL-IMPORTANT DOUBLES POINT
In its 30 matches this spring Baylor has won the doubles point 19 times and lost it 11 times. Baylor is 16-3 on the season when winning doubles and 5-0 when sweeping doubles. The Bears' three losses when claiming doubles came vs. No. 9 Stanford (4-2), No. 16 Auburn (4-1) in the National Team Indoor Tournament in Charlottesville, Va., and vs. No. 12 Oklahoma (4-3) in the finals of the Big 12 Championships in College Station. The loss to Oklahoma snapped a Baylor 11-match win streak when winning doubles. On the other hand, the Bears are 3-8 when losing the doubles point. The three victories (all on the road) came at UT-Arlington when, after losing doubles, the Bears swept all six singles matches to claim a 6-1 win, vs. No. 19 Texas Tech in the Big 12 Championship semifinals, 4-3 and in NCAA Championships first round action in Starkville, Miss., the Bears downed No. 31 Memphis, 4-2.
TEAM STREAKS & TRENDS
All of Baylor's losses this season have come against ranked opponents, seven of which have come vs. Top 15 foes. The Bears have defeated two top-10 teams, both on the road, No. 7 Kentucky (4-3) and No. 9 Mississippi State (4-3).
In the April 28 ITA team rankings, Baylor is ranked No. 25, moving up three spots from last week's No. 28. Individually, Baylor has two singles players ranked in the ITA top-125 as freshman Mate Zsiga slipped one spot to No. 17 with a 20-4 record in dual-match play, while junior Roberto Maytin comes in at No. 86 with an 13-9 dual match record. The Bears have two doubles team listed in the rankings with Maytin and senior Kike Grangeiroplaying together to be ranked No. 45, after posting a 6-4 record and Zsiga and Maytin are ranked No. 71 with a 9-4 dual match record.
Three of the players in the Bears' regular lineup are freshmen. In fact, the nine-man 2012 roster reflects a very young squad with six underclassmen, including five freshmen, a sophomore, a junior and two seniors. Rookies Mate Zsiga (No. 1), Marko Krickovic (No. 3) and Diego Galeano (No. 5) play singles, a junior (Roberto Maytin) plays at No. 2 and two seniors play at the bottom of the lineup, Kike Grangeiro at No. 5 and Julian Bleyat No. 6. The same six players compete in doubles with Zsiga and Galeano playing at No. 1, Grangeiro and Maytin at No. 2 and Bley and Krickovic teaming up at No. 3.
LAST TIME OUT
The Bears upset ninth-ranked Mississippi State, 4-3, in Starkville on Saturday, May 12. The NCAA Championship second round match was moved to MSU's two indoor courts part way through singles competition. The outcome came down to the last match, No. 6. BU senior Julian Bley won two tiebreakers [7-6(5), 7-6(10)] to clinch the win for the Bears. Baylor won the doubles point at Nos. 2 and 3, and freshmen Mate Zsiga (No. 1) and Marko Krickovic (No. 3) posted the Bears' two other singles victories.