By Kasey McMillian
Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams have the talent to be as victorious as their recent seasons.
The high ranked teams would not be where they are today without the coaches who have the experience, compassion, dedication and knowledge to know what it takes to get a title.
Men’s head coach Matt Knoll, has been at Baylor since 1997. This season Coach Knoll is dealing with something he has never experienced, a team including five freshmen. However, this doesn’t intimidate Knoll. He views it more as a challenge.
Leading the team is Mate Zsiga, a freshman who is Baylor’s No. 7 top ranked player. Zsiga doesn’t let his age get in the way of his success. He won the Hungarian championship four times and is the first from Szeged, Hungary, to win the European Junior Masters.
“It’s definitely a youth movement,” Knoll said. “You can feel a different level of enthusiasm than what we’ve had in the past. And I think some of that is just due to their chronological age. You get a bunch of guys that are 18 or 19 and haven’t been away from home, and it’s just a little different.”
During Knoll’s tenure, the bears have won 10 Big 12 titles in the last 12 years. In 2005, the Bears won a National Team Indoor Championship and Baylor was the only men’s team to make it to the NCAA semifinals consecutively from 2004-2007. Above all else, Knoll’s greatest accomplishment was winning a National Championship in 2004 which brought Baylor’s program to the top.
He earned the Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year six times, and the National Coach of the Year three times.
In 2005, he was awarded both the ITA Coach of the Year as well as the 2005 ITA South Central Region Coach of the Year. In 2008, he was recognized as the USPTA Coach of the Year and that same year he was inducted into the Baylor Hall of Fame.
In 2002, Joey Scrivano was hired as the head coach for the women’s tennis team and as Baylor’s associate director of intercollegiate tennis.
Scrivano has led the Bears to two NCAA Final Fours, the NCAA Elite Eights five times, the Regular Season Big 12 Champion eight times, the Big 12 Tournament Champion six times and for the first time in women’s tennis history, a Big 12 Championship.
In the last three seasons, the Bears have dominated with a 75-2 record making Baylor one of the nation’s top teams in women’s tennis.
“Our focus is to get better every day; there are so many things we have to do.” Scrivano said. “All our focus is on the next task more than the result. If we’d do that than good things are going to have happen.”
Scrivano has received many awards including the Conference Coach of the Year in 2006, 2008 and 2009, the ITA Texas Region Coach of the Year in 2006, 2008, and 2010, the TTCA Coach of the Year in 2005, and was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2002.
This season the Bears are ranked No. 6 and leading the team ranked No. 1 in the doubles combination are sophomore Jordaan Sanford and senior Nina Secerbegovic, and senior Diana Nakic and senior Sona Novakova, who are ranked No. 2.
“It’s great to work with young people and watch them develop. I enjoy seeing a student athlete grow, and mature, as well as her tennis game.” Scrivano said. “If we can teach them to be mature and unselfish first then the challenge of their tennis game becomes a lot easier to tackle.”