Waco – The 10th-ranked Baylor men’s tennis team will look to knock off its second straight top-10 ranked opponent Friday, when it faces No. 9 Mississippi at 3 p.m. at the Baylor Tennis Center.
The Bears are 5-0 in home matches in the spring season after defeating No. 67 Utah, 7-0, No. 58 Georgia Tech, 6-1, No. 62 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 7-0, No. 6 UCLA, 4-3 and St. Edwards, 7-0.
The Rebels will be the Bears’ third top-10 ranked opponent of the season. Baylor is 1-1 in the two previous matches after defeating No. 6 UCLA, 4-3 on Sunday, Feb. 22 and tripping against eight-ranked Tennessee, 4-0 on Feb. 13.
“We want to build on what we did against UCLA,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “I thought we played much better at doubles than we have in the past.”
In Sunday’s match against sixth-ranked UCLA, the Bears ended a three-match streak in which they had lost the doubles point. Senior David Galic returned to the Baylor doubles line-up after being sidelined with an injury for the past six matches, which caused Knoll to shuffle his pairs around.
“Certainly having Dave (David Galic) makes a big difference,” Knoll said. “I think some of the other guys are catching onto some of the concepts well, and doing some good things.”
In doubles play the Bears have a 12-11 record in dual match competition.
“We’ve got to keep showing up, ready to play, enthusiastic day in and day out, because our schedule is just so darn tough,” Knoll said. “There is just no time to get too excited about yourself or too down on yourself.”
In singles, ITA All-American and 10th-ranked Denes Lukacs is riding a five-match win streak that has produced a 5-2-spring record. Baylor’s two other ranked players No. 38 Jordan Rux and No. 121 Julian Bley have posted a 6-4 and a 5-5 record, respectively in dual match competition. Two juniors occupy the four and five positions in the Bears lineup, as Dominik Mueller and Attila Bucko are both 6-3 in singles play and have each one four of their last six matches. Maros Horny, a freshman, had his five-match win streak stopped Sunday against UCLA, but rebounded to defeat his St. Edwards opponent, which raised his season record to 6-2 record.
“The thing that we are really striving for is to get into every match at all nine spots and we just haven’t done that yet,” Knoll said. “We feel like we’ve got enough out there to get our four points against anybody.”
The Mississippi Rebels come into the Friday match sporting a 6-1-spring record.
Ole Miss will play No. 32 TCU on Thursday at the Baylor Tennis Center, before facing the Bears on Friday.
The TCU match will be the first outdoor match of the season for the Rebels.
In their last action, Ole Miss went 2-1 at the ITA National Team Indoor, defeating 16th-ranked Florida State and then seventh-ranked Florida, 4-1 after falling to No. 6 Southern Cal, 4-0 in first round action.
The Rebels’ squad has four players in the latest ITA National Rankings, including senior Jonas Berg, who is ranked No. 39 with a 5-0 dual match record. Junior Kalle Norberg is ranked No. 32 with a 4-1 record at No. 3 singles.
The other two ranked Rebels are last week’s SEC Freshman of the Week and 40th-ranked, Devin Britton, who comes in with a 3-3 record in dual matches and No. 79 Bram ten Berge, a senior.
“Our goal is not to win every single match the rest of the way,” Knoll said. “Our goal is to just play better and better and hopefully through these tough matches we will be a better team.”
The Bears are 0-2 all-time versus Mississippi with losses in 2004 and 1987.
The match against Mississippi begins a string of contests in which the Bears will play No. 3 Ohio State on March 1, and No. 1 Virginia, March 13, with a conference opener against No. 56 Oklahoma squeezed in on March 4.
“We can’t take our eye off the ball,” Knoll said. “We got to keep coming and bringing it everyday, because if we do get off track we are going to get a pretty big losing streak going.”
The Bears have replaced a match with Hardin-Simmons University on March 4 at 7 p.m. with a contest against Mary Hardin Baylor. The Bears will still play Oklahoma at 3 p.m. that day.
Live stats for the match against Mississippi can be found on Baylorbears.com.