By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer
No. 2-seed Baylor men’s tennis travels up Interstate 35 to compete in its first match of the Big 12 Tennis Championship at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Fort Worth. Their opponent is still undetermined as the team will take on the winner of Friday’s match between No. 3-seed University of Texas (15-9, 3-2 Big 12) and No. 6-seed Oklahoma State University (12-11, 0-5 Big 12).
Currently nationally ranked No. 4, the Bears (24-3, 4-1 Big 12) have found much success in conference play and hope to continue that momentum into the tournament.
“The Big 12 tournament is important for our guys and for our program, and we certainly want to compete for and win the Big 12 Championship every year,” head coach Michael Woodson said.
And the key to finding this success, according to Woodson, is focusing on the controllable aspects of the match.
“I think for us it’s going to be about controlling what we can control, using the experience and the level that we bring to maximize our opportunities,” Woodson said. “I think the guys feel really confident and it’s about sharing that confidence among the group.”
Junior Adrian Boitan, who plays at the top singles court for the green and gold, shared the same sentiment.
“If we control the controllable, we can go all the way this year,” Boitan said. “I personally think that tennis-wise, we have – not to take anything away from the other guys – players that can play better than the guys from last year. It’s just about the material. They are younger guys and we had grad seniors feeding off the bottom spots last year … The ceiling is way higher with these guys.”
In conference play, Baylor had a stinging 4-3 loss to No. 1-seed Texas Christian University. Nine days prior, the Bears won against the Horned Frogs, but because the earlier match was considered non-conference play, TCU was crowned the Big 12 regular season champion. Woodson said because of that loss, the team has “a lot to prove and a bit of a chip on [their] shoulders” coming into the tournament.
The match on Friday between the Cowboys and Longhorns will be watched closely by the Bears as they wait to see who they play on Saturday.
“Oklahoma State is getting better every single match,” Woodson said. “They play and we all know what Texas can bring. So for us, it’s just preparing ourselves to be ready to go on Saturday against whoever.”
Earlier in April, Baylor prohibited Oklahoma State and Texas from putting points on the board. The green and gold won 7-0 and 6-0, respectively. Regardless of the team Baylor faces on Saturday, the goal is clear:
“We’re going to win this,” Boitan said. “We go here to win this.”