Jan. 17, 1997
Men's Tennnis Looks For Continued Success
The 1996-97 Texas Tech Red Raider men's tennis team hopes to build on what will hopefully become a tradition for the program. With trips to the NCAAs the last two of three seasons, this year's team has much to live up to.
Last spring the Red Raiders finished the regular season with a 13-9 record and a fourth-place finish in the final Southwest Conference Championships. Tech defeated No.4 seed SMU before falling to No.1 seed TCU and No.2 seed Texas. The Red Raiders ended the year with a record of 14-11 and ranked 44th in the final ITA collegiate rankings.
In May, the All-Southwest Conference doubles team of Tylir Jimenez and Dieter Schwendinger received an invitation to compete in the 1996 NCAA Individual Championships. They became the first Texas Tech doubles team since Allison and Sutherland in 1962 to be invited to the championships.
Competing in the new Big 12 Conference this season, the Red Raiders face a strong schedule that could catapult the netters into the Top 25 in the country. Eighteen of the matches Tech will play this spring will be against ranked teams.
In pre-season polls, the Red Raiders are already ranked 40th nationally, the fourth-highest ranking of a Big 12 Conference school in the ITA men's ratings. Texas is ranked seventh, Kansas is 10th and Texas A&M is 23rd in the poll.
Four Red Raiders return, including juniors Jimenez and Doug Lacy, and sophomores Petar Danolic and Craig Gilliam. This year there are seven additions to the team. Newcomers consist of freshmen Kyle Cozart of Spring, Texas, Nick Crowther of England, Ryan Shupe of Greensboro, N.C., and Travis Wagner of San Antonio, Texas, and transfers Charles Bradshaw of Denton, Texas, Thomas Wheat of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Steve Wood of Teignmouth, England.
"Our greatest strength this year is the fact that our returning players all understand what it takes to be a Top 20 team," director of tennis Tim Siegel said. "I also feel confident of our newcomers. We will have good depth and attitude from this year's recruiting class. I feel very confident of what this team has the ability to achieve."
Danolic, also ranked 40th in the nation, is listed as the sixth-best sophomore in the country. Danolic finished last spring with a 16-7 record. This fall, he posted an 8-4 record in tournament play. In the final tournament of the fall season, Danolic lost his first match, but came back to win the next five matches to take the consolation title at the ITA Rolex Southwest Region Tennis Championships.
Teaming up as doubles this year are Jimenez and Shupe, who will begin the spring season ranked No. 29 in the nation. During the fall, they posted a 6-3 record. In the ITA Rolex Southwest Region Tennis Championships, they won four consecutive matches before falling to No. 1 ranked Ashley Fisher and Jason Weir-Smith from Texas Christian in the finals.
The freshman stand-out Shupe had a tremendous fall, finishing with an 11-3 record. His most outstanding performance came during the Lee Michael's-Rolex University of Southwestern Louisiana Tennis Classic, where he won four straight matches, before the tournament was canceled due to rain. The final match between Shupe and Michael Blue of Texas was postponed until November at the Last Hurrah Pro-Am. By defeating Blue, Shupe claimed the title.
Lacy has the opportunity for success in both the singles and doubles this season, and squad member Gilliam will make an impact on the team in the near future, according to Siegel.
Transfers Bradshaw from Oklahoma Christian University and Wood from Cumberland University, who posted a 7-7 record in the fall, both are talented athletes who are expected to make an impact on both the singles and doubles game. Also a transfer, Wheat from Nebraska, will redshirt this season. He will be eligible to play next year.