Baylor tennis is thriving after both the men’s and women’s teams claimed the Big 12 title last season. Ahead of the 2015-16 season, Baylor placed three players in the men’s ITA pre-season rankings, and two in the women’s ITA pre-season rankings.
Senior Julian Lenz leads the men’s side at No. 4 and the Lady Bears are led by junior Blair Shankle, who was ranked No. 25. Junior Max Tchoutakian and senior Felipe Rios rank at No. 36 and No. 87 in singles, respectively.
Senior Kiah Generette came in at No. 53 in the women’s preseason rankings.
The team’s success rides on the shoulders of senior Julian Lenz, who finished last season 26-9 while earning All-America honors in singles. At one point last season, the German native was ranked No. 1 in the country, but fell to No. 4 after losing in the second round of the NCAA Singles Championships.
“[Lenz is] getting better all the time,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “He’s a guy that’s got a real fire for trying to become a pro, and that’s the direction he’s headed. He’s just scratching the surface.”
The Bears also hope to improve upon their recent men’s doubles performances by partnering up Lenz and Tchoutakian. The two players enter this season ranked No. 15 in the country.
This year marks the first time that the duo will pair up on the court. However, both players experienced success in 2014 in doubles.
Lenz ended last season with a 23-2 record in doubles play and a 26-3 mark overall with partner Diego Galeano. The pair tied the record for the second-most wins (26) in program history.
The Bears saved their best for last in 2015, as three of the final five victories for Lenz and Galeano came over top-10 teams. The pair finished with a 14-2 record against ranked opponents.
Last season was the first time a Baylor doubles team had made it to the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Championship and the first time a BU tandem ended the season at No. 1.
“We have nine guys competing for spots in the lineup, so that helps within the team to have good practices because everybody is trying to get a spot,” Lenz said.
Both Lenz and Tchoutakian will kick off the season Friday at the Oracle/ITA Master’s in Malibu, Calif.
Another senior who looks to provide a boost to the Bears lineup is Felipe Rios. Rios hopes to get started on the right foot when he plays in the qualifying draw of the ITA All-American Championships on Oct. 6.
Junior Blair Shankle and Generette will lead the Lady Bears this season.
At the end of the 2015 season, Shankle was selected to the NCAA Singles Championships after a 29-7 record, which led the team in wins and dual-match singles wins (23-2).
Shankle earned All-American doubles honors for a second-straight year and was named to the 2015 All-Big 12 singles and doubles teams last season.
Generette, who ended last season at No. 74, tallied a 19-10 overall record and was named to the All-Big 12 singles team.
Both Lady Bears were selected to play in the qualifying singles and doubles draws of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships on Oct. 6.
Baylor opens its fall schedule on Sept. 18 by hosting the Under Armour/H-E-B Kickoff which will run through Sept. 20.