By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
The competition only intensifies for Baylor men’s tennis as the 4-0 Bears take on No. 4 Michigan to open the ITA Kickoff Weekend Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich.
After a strong first weekend, interim head coach Michael Woodson said competing against high quality teams is something the Bears thrive on.
“It’s exactly what we want, what we were looking for when we selected a regional,” Woodson said. “It gives all of our guys an opportunity to show really where they’re at, where the team’s at in comparison to the best teams in the country. Every time we play is a real privilege in the time that we’re in, so the opportunity to have a healthy team and to travel and compete, we wanted to make sure we got the most out of it.”
The Bears last played the hosting Wolverines in 2019, winning both matches 4-1. Baylor will also have the opportunity to play either No. 11 Texas A&M or No. 21 Pepperdine, as the winners of Saturday’s matches will face each other in the regional championship Sunday while the other two teams compete in a consolation match. The field is stacked, with 15 ranked singles players and six ranked doubles teams across the four squads participating.
The Bears are coming off a hot start in their opening weekend, which saw each player on the roster hit the court for at least one match. Due to travel restrictions, only 12 of the 14 athletes on Baylor’s roster made the trip north, and because of the tough competition, Woodson said only seven or 10 of the players will see the lineup this weekend.
“Different guys had different levels of preparation for the competition that we had last weekend, so it was really good to see everybody play a couple of times” Woodson said. “SMU was a tougher test than Abilene and Lamar and obviously Michigan is going to be a much tougher test than that … We felt like these were the 12 guys that were ready to go.”
One of those 12 guys hitting the court in Ann Arbor will be team captain Constantin Frantzen, who Woodson said he was impressed with last weekend. Frantzen, who struggled with a shoulder injury during the Bears’ 13-3 2020 season, started off 2021 winning all his matches on both the single and doubles court.
“One thing that we know, just looking at stats, is that Constantin Frantzen wins dual matches,” Woodson said. “He just wins.”
Another standout for Woodson in the early season was Nick Stachowiak, who earned two solid singles matches against Lamar and SMU. Woodson noted that the Duke transfer worked hard throughout the fall season to improve his game.
“He kind of took a step back before he took three steps forward, and he finished the fall strong, but he shot out of a rocket this past weekend. It was really incredibly impressive how well he handled the dual match setting,” Woodson said.
Baylor and the Wolverines will take the court at 10 a.m. Fans can watch matches on the Cracked Rackets Redzone Coverage live stream.