By Ryan Hannegan
Baylor’s men’s and women’s tennis teams will compete in the Big 12 Tennis Championships this weekend.
Both teams come into competition as No. 1 seeds in the tournament and both the men’s and women’s championships will be played April 24-27 at the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center in Fort Worth.
The men’s team will begin tournament action on Saturday, April 26, when it takes on the winner of today’s match between No. 4 Texas Tech and No. 5 Oklahoma State.
The Bears had no trouble with either opponent this season, soundly defeating both teams by identical 7-0 scores.
Coming into the Big 12 Championships, the conference finished with tri-champions in regular season play for the first time in its history with Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas all earning a share of the conference title.
Men’s tennis head coach Matt Knoll knows the tournament will be tough in a conference that holds three top 10 teams in the country.
“The thing that stands out to me is that we have the No. 2 team in the country (Oklahoma) as the No. 3 seed in this tournament,” Knoll said. “I think that says it all about how tough this conference is and the challenges it brings. I just don’t think it’s ever been this competitive.”
The Bears have the possibility to enact a certain amount of revenge against the Sooners, who not only defeated them this year in a 4-3 battle but also knocked Baylor out of the tournament last year in the championship match, 4-2.
“I think we still have some payback to give Oklahoma,” sophomore Julian Lenz said. “This time will be a lot easier than last time. They had home court advantage in the regular season match and the tournament last year; being on a neutral site should really help us out this time.”
The Lady Bears come into the Big 12 Championships with a perfect 9-0 record in conference action. This was one in a long line of Big 12 regular season titles for Baylor, having won the title eight of the last nine years.
The women’s tennis team will have a first-round bye in the tournament while awaiting a matchup with the winner of No. 8 Kansas and No. 9 seed Iowa State.
Like most conference opponents this season, the Lady Bears defeated both teams in this year’s matchups in dominating fashion. The Lady Cyclones and Lady Mountaineers did not win a single point in identical 7-0 losses.
“We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing by taking care of the task at hand,” men’s tennis head coach Matt Knoll said. “That’s the biggest thing for us right now. It would be easy for us to say that we’ve won the Big 12 regular season, we’ve had a great year, and we could really use some rest; but that is the last thing we can afford to do. We just have to keep pushing through and figuring out ways to get it done.”
The Lady Bears are 14-6 against ranked opponents this year and 7-3 in matches away from Baylor’s Hurd Tennis Center or Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.