By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
As Baylor men’s tennis heads to Fort Worth for the Big 6 individuals tournament, it’s clear that a lot of factors have gone into making the Bears as successful as they are.
Baylor has put together an overall record of 22-14 this year in individual matches. The Bears also took home three championships at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association regional tournament. Walking away with trophies were Matias Soto and Nick Stachowiak as doubles champs in the red bracket, Finn Bass and Spencer Furman in the white bracket, and Soto again as co-champion of the singles bracket.
Baylor’s winning ways have not gone unnoticed by the rest of the country, much to the benefit of the Bears. Four members of the tennis team are graduate transfers from other programs. Three of them — Stachowiak, Furman and Ryan Dickerson — were teammates at Duke University.
“They’re a great support system,” Furman said. “They know me better than everyone else, just because they’ve been around me the longest, but also kind of giving me the inside scoop on Waco, it was much easier to adjust, going through it with them.”
Furman also expressed a desire to compete for a national title as a contributing factor in his move to Texas. Both Furman and head coach Michael Woodson feel that, while a lofty goal, a championship is attainable.
“[We] just have to hope the coaching staff doesn’t get in the way,” Woodson said. “These guys are unbelievable talents. We’ve got six guys currently on the roster that have played No. 1 on top 15, top 10, top five teams.”
Texas took home last year’s NCAA title, and Baylor will get a shot to play some of the best Longhorn individuals this weekend at the Big 6. Texas has also been one of the few opponents Baylor has gotten to see this season, as travel restrictions have changed what teams the Bears have been able to play.
“Almost all of our tournaments have remained in Texas, which has been good for us because Texas schools are so good. [Texas] Tech, TCU, UT and A&M, all those schools are really good,” Furman said. “We’ve been able to get good competition, but I know other parts of the country, it hasn’t been as easy, so we’ve got an advantage.”
This weekend’s Big 6 tournament will mark the end of the individual season for tennis players around the country and the start of dual matches. Stachowiak, Bass, Sebastian Nothhaft and Sven Lah will compete in the Big 6.
“As we get into dual season … you’re basically in a maintenance program. You’re making minor adjustments. You’re working on small things to tweak something — working to stay sharp,” Woodson said. “Right now it’s a heavy developmental stage, up through the end of the year. And then as we get into January, we hope that we’ve added certain things to each of our individual games.”
The men’s tennis team will continue their pursuit of the nation’s top spot at this weekend’s Big 6 tournament, beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday. After that, the Bears have a sizable break before they return to the court for the spring semester.