Tigers to Face Tulsa Thursday in First of Three Ranked Road Matches
March 27, 2008
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - - The University of Memphis men's tennis team will face three more nationally-ranked opponents on the road beginning at No. 11 Tulsa, Thursday. The Tigers will continue on the road, traveling to C-USA foe SMU, Saturday, for a noon match against the No. 57 ranked Mustangs, and will play an unprecedented doubleheader Saturday evening by traveling from Dallas to Waco to take on No. 18 Baylor at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
"It's good for us to be able to get on the schedule of nationally-ranked teams if that's where we want to be," Head Coach Paul Goebel said. "We added the Baylor match when we thought the Tulsa match might be cancelled due to Tulsa's success in a tournament earlier this season that used a competition date. But when Tulsa worked with us and kept us on the schedule so we could get a conference match that left us with both Tulsa and Baylor on the schedule because we had already talked with Baylor about filling an opening with on their schedule since we were in the area. I asked some of the guys on our team what they thought and they said to play it (the Baylor match), so Saturday we'll play at SMU at noon, then drive to Waco and take on Baylor at 7 p.m."
Memphis will face Tulsa at 3 p.m., Thursday, in its second C-USA match of the season. The Tigers fell 4-3 to UAB at home last Friday and are looking to improve on their 6-8 overall record against a tough Tulsa line-up that features Arnau Brugues, the No. 18 ranked singles player in the country and the two-time C-USA Player of the Year. The Golden Hurricane is 14-3 so far this season and is coming off its recent victory in the Blue/Gray National Collegiate Tennis Classic, followed by a 6-1 loss to No. 9 Southern Cal last Saturday.
Playing one on the premier college tennis facilities in the country, the Golden Hurricane has used the home court to its advantage so far this season, sporting an 8-3 record at home. The Tigers are still looking for their first road win of the season, carrying an 0-5 record with them to Tulsa, but the Memphis schedule could be partly to blame for that as Memphis has faced nationally-ranked opponents on all five of those road losses. The match against Tulsa will be Memphis' seventh against a nationally-ranked opponent, a streak that will grow to 10 matches against ranked opponents by the time the Tigers finish this three-match swing.
Following the match at Tulsa, Memphis will travel to Dallas to face the nationally-ranked Mustangs of SMU. Another C-USA foe for the Tigers, SMU is 12-6 on the season and is led by No. 73 ranked Robin Fahgen. Fahgen is riding a four-match winning streak in to a Thursday match-up with No. 18 Baylor. The Mustangs recently upended defending Ivy League champion Columbia and all six of the SMU losses have come to teams ranked in the top 30.
"SMU is a really good team," Goebel said. "They are coming off a win over a conference champion and also a win over a ranked California team (6-1) last weekend. They are probably ranked lower than I think they should be, they'll definitely give us a good challenge on the road."
That challenge got a little stiffer with the addition of Baylor to the schedule on Monday morning. The Bears are the No. 18 ranked team in the country, and suddenly had a gap in their schedule to fill as a team dropped from their schedule. With Memphis calling around earlier trying to find a match, the two teams scheduled a Saturday evening match at 7 p.m. Baylor will play two more matches before hosting the Tigers on Saturday, hosting SMU, Thursday, then hosting Laredo College Saturday at noon.
"I know this road trip will be perceived as being tough, but if this is the level we want to get to, we have to play teams like this wherever they'll play us, and that usually means a road match for us. Down the road when we are in our new tennis facility, maybe we can get some of these matches back in Memphis, so that's why we pretty much play ranked opponents wherever we can," Goebel said.
Baylor will be the third Big 12 opponent the Tigers have faced, as Memphis squared off with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma earlier this month, falling 6-1 and 5-2.
The Bears have as much depth as any of the Big 12 teams Memphis has faced with four nationally-ranked singles players, led by No. 14 Denes Lukacs and No. 22 Lars Poerscke. David Galic and Dominik Mueller round out the singles rankings at No. 102 and No. 108, respectively. The strong rankings also carry over to the doubles side with two tandems in the latest rankings. The team of Galic and Jordan Rux are No. 50 in the country, while the team of Galic and Mueller at No. 60 in the country.