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Oct. 20, 1997

1997-98 Mens Tennis Preview

Texas Tech director of tennis Tim Siegel has much to look forward to with the upcoming mens tennis season. Last season Siegel guided the Red Raiders to their third NCAA Tournament berth over the last four seasons. He received word last spring that Texas Tech plans to build a first-class, state-of-the-art tennis facility in the near future. And he has six lettermen returning from a team that finished 11-14 during the 1996-97 campaign. What more could a coach of an up-and-coming program want?

Even more success.

I think weve build a good base over the last four years, Siegel said.

Weve made it to the NCAA Tournament three out of the last four years and weve been ranked as high as No. 30 in the nation. Tech never made it to the NCAAs before I came here, but Im not striving to be mediocre. For us to just make the NCAA Tournament and to be ranked is not good enough. Weve got to advance past the first round, finish in the top four in the Big 12 every year and be ranked higher every year. Those are my goals and Im going to try to do everything in my power to get our program where it needs to be.

Siegel, who is 60-53 in five years at Texas Tech, welcomes back six key letterwinners from an 11-14 team that earned its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and finished in fifth place in the inaugural Big 12 Conference tennis season with a 4-5 record.

The Red Raiders will receive valuable leadership from two returning players- senior Tylir Jiminez and junior Petar Danolic. Jimenez returns to the squad after compiling a 17-7 singles record last year. In addition to his 17-7 singles record, Jimenez teamed with fellow senior Doug Lacy at No. 3 doubles for a 10-2 record. Danolic, who finished at 11-11 in singles competition last year and is a former First team All-Southwest Conference performer, earned honorable mention All-Big 12 Academic status last year.

This years team will definitely have more leadership, Siegel says. Tylir and Petar have really stepped up- thats one of the most important ingredients for a team. Tylir has improved each year, was the team captain last year and has matured a lot. He has had three very good years for me and theres no question that this year will be his best. Petar is a junior returning as our best player. Nobody competes harder and nobody works harder than Petar, but I think this year his game is developed more. I expect him to be one of the better players in the Big 12 and in the country.

Siegel will also get help from four other returning players. Senior Steve Wood, who finished at 5-20 at the all-important No. 1 singles position a year ago returns to the squad along with Lacy, who contributed a 10-9 overall singles record. Former Boris Becker hitting partner sophomore Adam Baranowski, who contributed a 10-13 singles record and teamed with Wood for an 8-4 No. 2 doubles squad is also back along with sophomore Ryan Shupe, who came in as one of the top recruits in the nation last year and added an 8-11 singles record. Shupe also played on the No. 1 doubles team.

Siegel also has added five new players to go along with his veterans. Among those five newcomers include freshmen Borut Martincevic (5-9, 150, FR, Maribor, Slovenia), Woutek Stasiak (5-10, 158, Parramatta, Australia), Thomas Will (6-1, 160, Sugarland, Texas) along with sophomore Arizona State transfer Carey Biorkman. Martincevic, who will begin collegiate competition in fall 1998, was a top player in Slovenia while Stasiak, who will arrive in January, was the No. 1 ranked junior player coming out of Australia. Two walk-ons from Lubbock will also contribute to the program in senior Dustin Goss and Tanner Payne.

Theres a sense of hunger with the players right now, Siegel says. Theres a whole new attitude and everyones excited and looking forward to beginning the season. Im excited about this group because I think they learned a lot from last year- both the positives and negatives, where we came up short, and why we didnt have an overall better season last year.

The 1997 season began with a bittersweet 4-3 victory against 37th-ranked Arkansas, Siegels alma mater. However, it was during that match that three Red Raiders suffered various shoulder and elbow injuries and would miss significant time over the next several weeks. Despite playing at less than full strength, Texas Tech went on to record the consolation championship at a tournament in Santa Barbara, Calif. and won two additional matches over nationally ranked opponents.

We had some bad luck with injuries early on, but we finished strong- fifth in the Big 12 and we defeated Texas A&M, Siegel said. One thing I was very pleased last year was the things we achieved in the classroom. I think more often than not, there is a direct correlation between your studies and your tennis. I f you work hard in the classroom, , youll usually have hard workers on the tennis court.

Tech is in the process of working out plans to build a new tennis facility. Siegel is excited about the possibilities a new facility brings to both his mens and womens tennis programs.

In order to bring in the top level of players, we have to have a facility that were proud of, Siegel says. Im obviously grateful that our chancellor and athletic director realize the importance of that. Were going to have as good of a facility as any in the nation. My goal is to host tournaments and other exhibitions such as the Big 12 and have other college tournaments.

Knowing Siegel, those goals, in addition to his program goals, will soon become reality.

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