The 22nd-ranked Baylor men's tennis team will open its 2017 dual-match season by welcoming Incarnate Word (1 p.m.) and Grand Canyon (6 p.m.) to the Hurd Tennis Center on Saturday.
“We have a great vibe on this team,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “I would say it is as close of team as we have had in a long time. This year we have seven really good players. We feel like we are going to be back at our level. It is fun to be ranked lower than we deserve to be, so we will get a chance to prove it.”
Incarnate Word is playing its season-opener as well. The Cardinals feature one ranked singles in 108th-ranked Francisco Bendana. BU hosted Incarnate Word last season on Jan. 30 as the first match of a doubleheader. The Bears won that contest, 7-0, improving to 4-0 all-time vs. UIW.
Grand Canyon is 0-1 on the season, after a 7-0 loss to No. 7 UCLA on Wednesday. In the only meeting between the two programs, Baylor last played GCU in 1980, winning by an 8-2 score.
Baylor is 17-3 in season openers under head coach Matt Knoll and has won 20 of its last 21 home openers.
The Bears boast a pair of ranked singles players in senior Max Tchoutakian (No. 44) and Jimmy Bendeck (No. 81). Those two student-athletes, along with redshirt sophomore Will Little and seniors Sam May and Tyler Stayer, return from last season’s 16-14 squad that made the second round of the NCAA Championships.
BU also welcomes back Juan Benitez and Johannes Schretter, who were both on the 2014-15 roster. Benitez is the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week, after winning five-straight matches to clinch the Sherwood Collegiate Cup singles title. He also partnered with Tchoutakian to win the event’s doubles crown.
The roster also features a pair of freshman in Constantin Frantzen and Bjoern Petersen, who racked up 10-6 and 8-5 singles records, respectively, in individual tournament play over the fall and last week as the Sherwood tournament.
Live results and a live video stream for the matches will be available at BaylorBears.com with a live blog available for the first match as well.
Following the season-opening doubleheader, the Bears will travel to face 16th-ranked Texas A&M as part of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend hosted by the Aggies in College Station, Texas. The opening match of that event is Saturday, Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. CT.