Oct. 15, 2010
WACO, Texas - The Baylor men's tennis team will send six members to compete as amateurs in the Futures of Mansfield, a USTA Futures Pro Circuit event, Oct. 16-18, at the Walnut Creek Country Club in Mansfield, Texas.
The tournament for the Bears is their fourth stop on a seven-event fall slate and will mark the third time that Baylor has played at Mansfield in the last four years.
"It is a great experience for our guys to play in a pro event," head coach Matt Knoll said. "It is just a great chance for the guys to get some good matches in. I think it is perfect, because the guys are jacked up to go and get some good training in."
All six of the Baylor players will start in the qualifying draw with an eye on earning one of eight spots into the event's main draw action, which is scheduled for Oct. 19-24. Senior John Peers with a No. 28 ITA singles ranking leads a Baylor contingent that includes fellow senior Sergio Ramirez, juniors Julian Bley and Kike Grangeiro, sophomore Roberto Maytin and freshman Robert Verzaal. Since the tournament is a pro event results will not be factored into a player's record on the season.
"I like this group of guys," Knoll said. "They are working hard on the court. They are going to get better and I wouldn't be surprised if we had some really good results here at the end of the fall."
On the season Peers is 5-2, while competing in two tournaments. The two losses for the Australian native, came against opponents ranked inside the top 25. Last week at the ITA All-American Championships, Peers got his first win against a ranked opponent for Baylor with a straight-set win over No. 54 Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan of Washington. Peers went to 2-1 in the main draw event.
"What I like about John is he is very clear about the things he needs to be doing right now to get better," Knoll said. "He has got a great handle on what he needs to be doing and he is doing it and it is for sure going to pay off."
Ramirez has the most wins on the team this fall with an 8-4 record. The Cali, Columbia, product, has played in three fall events, while sporting a 2-1 mark against ranked foes. In the ITA All-American, Ramirez made his way out of the prequalifying draw to advance to the second round of the qualifying bracket with four wins, before losing in the round of 64.
"Sergio is getting better, so far he has had a pretty solid start to the fall," Knoll said. "Generally, except for one result, the losses he has had have been to good guys that are highly ranked. He has beaten a couple ranked guys and has competed well. I don't think he has found the consistency with his level that he would like to have, but all these matches are helping him."
Bley has had to deal with some bumps and bruises, while losing his last two matches, after starting the fall with three straight wins. Bley was ousted from the ITA All-American last week in his first prequalifying match.
Grangeiro has two wins over ranked opponents this season in two fall tournaments as part of a 3-2 overall record. Last week, Grangeiro won his opening round qualifying match over No. 106 Dennis Lajola of Hawai'i, but then fell to Duke's Chris Mengel the following day to be eliminated from the ITA All-American.
"I think Kike has beaten the two best guys he has played with this fall, but he has not been able to back that up with a good effort the next day," Knoll said. "He just has to work harder to concentrate consistently to be at certain level day in and day out."
Maytin has been the Bears most streaky player going 4-3 in two fall tournaments. The Valencia, Venezuela, native, got of the gate with four straight wins, but has struggled as of late losing his last three matches. That streak includes losses in both his opening round qualifying match and a first round consolation match last week at the ITA All-America.
"I think in general our group just needs to focus better," Knoll said. "Our ability to concentrate for long periods of time is not where it needs to be and Roberto may be the most glaring example of that. He hasn't yet really locked it down consistently. He has honestly practiced way better and we have challenged him to do better with that. I think he will really improve in the next couple of weeks."
Verzaal will be playing in his third tournaments as a Bear looking to improve on a 1-4 record. The Shreveport, Louisiana, product's last match was on Sept. 25 in the HEB Baylor Invitational, in which he posted a win and two losses.
"Robert is doing about what we would expect," Knoll said. "He is kind of bobbing around a little bit, but I think he is on track. He is going to get there. He has a lot on his play with being a freshman and new to the work out."
Participants, draws and a schedule for this weekend's tournament will be released Friday night. For access to them visit here and look under the heading Futures of Mansfield.