May 19, 2010
WACO, Texas - After sweeping through the first two rounds of NCAA Tournament play the eighth-ranked Baylor men's tennis team will make its ninth straight appearance in the NCAA Championship round of 16 when it travels to Athens, Ga., for a 2 p.m. (CT) match with No. 10 Texas A&M (25-6) on Fri., May 21, at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The Friday match will be the third for the Bears and Aggies in the last 45 days with A&M winning the first two contests. On April 7, a 12th-ranked A&M squad took down No. 9 Baylor in College Station, Texas, 6-1, in the first match of Big 12 conference play for BU. Only 24 days later the two teams would meet again as the Aggies claimed a 4-1 win in the semifinals of 2010 Big 12 Championship in Austin.
Baylor entered the 2010 NCAA tournament as the No. 7 seed for the first time as the Bears hosted the first and second rounds of play for the seventh time in the last eight year. The 2010 NCAA Championship selection is the program's 13th in a row as the Bears seek a second NCAA crown, after claiming the championship in 2004. For Matt Knoll's Bears the seventh-seed is the second lowest in program history, after having been seeded 10 out of the 13 years they have been selected for the NCAA Championship. In NCAA Championship final site matches Baylor is 15-9, including an 8-2 mark in round of 16 contests.
The Bears come into the round of 16 with a 23-6 record, after its two wins in the opening round. This season, the Bears are 16-1 at home, 5-2 on the road and 2-3 in neutral site contests.
Live video and scoring of all of the 2010 NCAA Championship final site matches will be available here.
CURRENT TEAM STREAKS AND TRENDS: Overall, the Bears have won 38 of 45 matches dating back to last season, including 18 of their last 22. The Bears are currently on a two-match win streak, after dropping their previous match. The Bears had a five-match win streak going before their last loss. It was the Bears' second five-match win streak of the year after starting the season with five wins in a row. The Bears had an eight-match win streak earlier in the season.
DOUBLES POINT STREAKS AND TRENDS: Baylor has won the doubles point in seven of its last eight matches, after losing the previous three. The catalyst for the turnaround has been the team of Maros Horny and Sergio Ramirez, who have gone 6-1 at the No. 3 position over the last eight matches. The team of Jordan Rux and Attila Bucko are 5-2 at the two spot during the stretch, but the Bears' No. 1 duo of Denes Lukacs and Roberto Maytin are only 2-4 in the last six. Baylor is 20-0 in matches when winning the doubles point and just 3-6 when losing it.
SINGLES STREAKS AND TRENDS: Senior Dominik Mueller enters Friday's match with a nine-match win streak. Julian Bley has also played well, going undefeated in his last eight matches (six wins and two unfinished), while at the top of the Bears' lineup Denes Lukacs has won five of his last seven decisions and Jordan Rux has claimed wins in three of his last four results.
BAYLOR'S NCAA HISTORY: The Bears have had tremendous success in NCAA Tournament play with the pinnacle of that success coming in 2004 when the program claimed the university's first ever team national championship. 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 appearances in 1998 and 2001. After the championship, Baylor continued to experience success clawing its way back to the title match in 2005 before losing to UCLA 4-3. In 2006, the Bears lost to top-seeded Georgia in the semifinals, then dropped a 4-3 semifinal thriller to Illinois in 2007 and lost in the quarterfinals to top-ranked and undefeated Virginia 4-2 in 2008. Last season, Baylor returned to the quarterfinals before falling to No. 3 Ohio State, 4-1. With two victories in the opening rounds of this year's tournament, Baylor is 37-11 all-time in NCAA Championship play.
SCOUTING TEXAS A&M: The Aggies enter Friday's match with a 25-6 overall record and as the winners of 18 of their last 20 matches. On Saturday, 10th-seeded Texas A&M knocked off 18th-ranked Mississippi at home, 4-2, to advance to the round of 16. TAMU defeated Prairie View A&M, 4-0, on Friday in first round action. The Aggies are 19-1 this season at home, 4-5 on the road and 2-0 neutral site contests. This season Texas A&M has tied the program mark for most wins, while going 18-6 against nationally ranked teams. Steve Denton, who is in his fourth year as head coach of the Aggies, has a roster that features one senior, six juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Aggies have two singles players ranked in the ITA singles listings. Austin Krajicek, a junior, leads the A&M contingent as the No. 6 player in the country. The Florida native has put up a 19-6 record at the No. 1 position for his team. Krajicek is followed by the 39th-ranked Jeff Dadamo. The junior is 18-8 in dual match play. In doubles, Krajicek and Dadamo partner together to form the fifth-ranked team in the nation, while Alexey Grigorov and Marcus Lunt makeup the 34th-ranked duo.
SERIES RECORD: Texas A&M has now won two straight matches over Baylor, after the Bears had won five straight over the Aggies. The two straight losses to Texas A&M this season mark the first time the Bears have dropped two in a row to the Aggies since matches on April 30, 2000 and April 31, 2001. It is the first time ever the Bears have lost two atches in one season to Texas A&M. Since Matt Knoll took over at Baylor in 1997 the Bears are 15-7 against A&M. The Bears are 16-32-1 all-time versus the Aggies. In matches outside of Big 12 conference regular season play, the Bears own a 6-3 mark over Texas A&M, including a 3-0 mark in NCAA Championship play. In true road contests, the Bears are 4-3 against the Aggies, while holding a 5-2 mark over TAMU in true home contests and a 6-2 record in neutral site matches during the Matt Knoll era.
LAST TIME AGAINST TEXAS A&M: The 10th-ranked Aggies claimed their second win of the season over the seventh-ranked Bears with a 4-1 win in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Championship. In the match Dominik Mueller was the lone Bear to secure a point with a 6-2, 6-3 win at the No. 5 position over Alberto Bautista. Texas A&M won the doulbes point with victories at the No. 1 and 2 positions and then got wins from the top three spots in their lineup as Austin Krajicek beat Denes Lukacs, Jeff Dadamo downed Jordan Rux and Alexey Grigorov got past Attila Bucko.
LOOKING AHEAD: If Baylor gets past Texas A&M in the round of 16, the Bears will face the winner of No. 15 Louisville and No. 2 Tennessee on Sun., May 23 at 3 p.m. (CT) in the NCAA quarterfinals at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. If Baylor would play Tennessee in the quarterfinals, Knoll would face his former assistant Sam Winterbotham, who is now the head coach at Tennessee.
Quotes: Head Coach Matt Knoll
On his team's experience:
"I think it does matter. I think it matters absolutely. We have got several guys that have played in the semifinals and several guys that have played in this tournament. It also matters that we have played at this site. Our three seniors have all played there. I have played there like 20 times our something. I think we have a very good comfort level with how things our going to go there and how things roll out.
"It is a big, big deal at this stage - people get tight. You see this all the time people get nervous. I think the teams that can manage their emotions and just execute have an advantage."
On playing Texas A&M for a third time:
"I think when you look at the matchup, they beat us at doubles and one and two. They are 6-0 in those points. If they beat us in all of those points again, we probably are not going to win. We have got to do a better job in those positions. I think the guys playing those positions in our doubles are way better. They (Texas A&M) have got everything on their shoulders. They have dominated us in those spots. It will be interesting to see how everybody responds to the expectations that are out there."
On having played in the round of 16 before:
"I think coaches and the teams that have been out in the draw have a different comfort level with the environment. Now that doesn't mean a rookie coach can't go there and win the tournament, but it is not easy. I think the thing about where we are now is you have to be able to put four matches in a row together. You may see a team upset somebody that is a little better than them in one or two rounds, but I think to march through the draw is going to take a level of maturity that maybe not everybody in this section has."