Cowboy Tennis Returns Home, Hosts SMU
The No. 23 Oklahoma State men’s tennis team will host a 12 p.m. matchup against the SMU Mustangs on Sunday, marking the first of four consecutive home matches at the Greenwood Tennis Center.
The Cowboys (19-3, 1-1 Big 12) completed their final road trip of the regular season this past weekend, taking down No. 56 TCU and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi while nearly upsetting No. 6 Texas. OSU finishes the regular season with a 7-2 mark on the road, and will look to increase its 10-1 home record on Sunday.
Sunday’s match will also be the Cowboys’ final indoor appearance of the regular season, as the remainder of OSU’s home matches will be played at the outdoor portion of the Greenwood Tennis Center, barring inclement weather. For more updates and information, follow @CowboyTennis on Twitter.
Eyeing the Opposition
The SMU Mustangs (9-10) have suffered each of their losses from ranked opponents, but recently performed well against No. 19 Columbia and No. 56 TCU. Arturs Kazijevs, the Mustangs’ No. 1 singles standout, has taken down four ranked opponents on the year, while the doubles duo of Lammons/Sanders is riding a three-match winning streak and has compiled an overall record of 17-7.
An OSU win on Sunday would even the all-time head-to-head series with the Mustangs, as SMU currently holds a 6-5 advantage. After dropping the first three meetings of the series, the Cowboys ran off five-consecutive wins between 2004 and 2009.
Welcome to the Rankings
After beginning the season unranked, the Cowboys jumped into the No. 51 spot of the ITA Rankings on Jan. 21, and currently sit at No. 23.
OSU now joins the rest of its conference opponents in the national rankings, and will look to continue its strong play to surpass Big 12 foes Oklahoma (No. 5), Texas (No. 6) and Baylor (No. 7) while also holding ground on No. 28 Texas Tech and No. 56 TCU.
Three members of the 2014 Cowboy Tennis squad were inserted into the ITA National Rankings on Feb. 11, marking the first time a Cowboy individual has been represented in the polls this season.
Junior Jakob Sude received the first individual ranking of his career, coming in at No. 70 in ITA’s National Singles Rankings. Sude has compiled an 8-5 singles record in 18 appearances, highlighted by his straight sets victory over Tennessee’s Mikelis Libietis, formerly the nation’s 34th-ranked singles standout, as well as a strong performance in an unfinished match against No. 12 Daniil Proskura. Sude currently sits at No. 61 as of March 25. Sude’s ranking is the highest in singles since former Cowboy Vlad Bondarenko’s No. 60 position on Jan. 3, 2012.
In the ITA National Doubles Rankings, undefeated Arjun Kadhe and Brady Bohrnstedt premiered at the No. 38 spot after racking up six consecutive wins to open the 2014 season. The duo also boasts a win over a highly-ranked opponent in Tennessee’s 28th-ranked Fickey/Chaplin doubles squad, and becomes the highest-ranked Cowboy Tennis tandem since Rifat Biktyakov and Aleksey Bessonov finished the 2011 season at No. 27. The doubles tandem is currently unranked after suffering its first two losses of the season against Arkansas and Tulsa.
The 2013 Cowboy Tennis squad saw its doubles team compile a 37-14 dual record, marking a massive improvement for the team and helping OSU begin to develop a reputation as one of the nation’s up-and-coming doubles powers.
That success has passed on into 2014, as the Cowboys’ doubles squads remain an impressive 36-14 through 22 matches in dual play. The team also provided strong performances in the fall despite pairing with new partners, as Oklahoma State sent two doubles teams to the quarterfinal round of ITA’s Central Region Championships.
Strength of Schedule
Coach Udwadia has given the Cowboys a challenging task for the spring by scheduling 16 ranked opponents, giving OSU the 33rd most difficult schedule in the country based on number of ranked opponents faced and quality of opponent.
The team’s tough slate includes six matches against teams ranked in the Top 25, as well as contests against top-10 opponents Baylor, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Seven of the Cowboys’ ranked opponents will visit Stillwater, including three in the top ten. OSU is 8-3 against currently ranked opponents in 2014.
The 2014 season has not only seen the Cowboys jump out to their best start in school history, but has also helped OSU compile its longest home winning streak since a 12-match run from 2006-08.
The Pokes are a perfect 6-0 at the Greenwood Tennis enter, and will look to increase that mark on April 6 when they welcome SMU to Stillwater, marking the first of a four-match homestand to close out the regular season.
In do-or-die tiebreaker situations this year, the Cowboys have compiled a 20-11 advantage, signifying that the team has performed extremely well when under pressure. Jakob Sude is 4-1 in deciding singles set tiebreakers, and Lucas Gerch owns five tiebreaker victories of his own.
Oklahoma State’s clutch tiebreaker wins have been instrumental in the team’s two biggest wins of the year, as the Pokes won four out of five tiebreakers against No. 6 Tennessee and went a perfect 6-0 in tiebreaker play in the team’s sweep over No. 36 Alabama.
Shock And Awe
After defeating Georgia St. on Feb. 9, the Cowboys reached 8-0 for the first time in school history, setting a school record for the best start ever for Cowboy Tennis. The eight wins to begin the season surpassed the 1998 squad’s six and the previous-high of seven from 1997. The Cowboys’ loss at No. 32 Tulsa on Feb. 23 ended the team’s record start.
Bring Out The Brooms
OSU has shutout ten opponents in 22 matches this season, the most in as many matches since the 2006 squad that reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In 2014, the Cowboys have swept currently-ranked opponents San Diego State, Dartmouth and Alabama, as well as South Dakota State, Southern Illinois, New Orleans, Oral Roberts, Nebraska-Omaha and Lamar.
The Future Is Now
The Cowboys bring in the year with a bang by debuting the Greenwood Tennis Center, Oklahoma State’s newest athletic facility that will give the tennis program its first new home in more than 30 years. The state-of-the-art complex houses six indoor courts and 12 future outdoor courts, as well as an electronic scoreboard and videoboard.
2014 will also mark the debut of new assistant coach Pepe Cabellero, who joins the Cowboys after serving two years as head coach of the Hong Kong Tennis Association. Caballero takes the team’s position after former assistant Yevgen Bondarchuk held the spot for the last eight years.
Taking Their Talents to Stillwater
Head Coach Jay Udwadia’s 2014 signing class brings five new members to the Cowboy Tennis squad and is highlighted by several international standouts, as well as last year’s top high school player in Oklahoma.
- Sebastian Sachs (Ditzingen, Germany) – posted a 4-4 fall record that included a semifinal trip in the Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational. Sachs has also made a name for himself on the international circuit by earning several ATP points and performing well against international competition.
- Arjun Kadhe (Pune, India) – has experience in each of the four Grand Slams at the junior level, including a quarterfinal doubles run at last year’s French Open. He has also consistently held a No. 1 ranking in each of India’s junior age groups.
- Lucas Gerch (Berlin, Germany) – combined with Vasili Caripi to reach the doubles quarterfinal at last fall’s ITA Central Region Championships, finishing the season with a 6-1 doubles mark. Gerch also went 2-4 in singles play.
- Nathan Roper (Edmond, Okla.) – earned Oklahoma’s Jim Thorpe Player of the Year award twice after winning three consecutive individual state champions at Edmond North HS. Roper was also named an Army National Reserve Scholar-Athlete, and led Edmond North to team state championships in each of his four varsity years.
Nicolai Ferrigno (Hvidovre, Denmark) – joins the Cowboys after two successful years at Cameron University. Ferrigno compiled an impressive 22-2 singles mark last year at Cameron, and finished the season ranked No. 18 in ITA’s Division II rankings.