Feb. 20, 2013
STILLWATER, Okla. -
Oklahoma State’s men’s tennis team will return from a two-week break when it faces off against Florida Atlantic and Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday.
OSU (5-2) will open play with a 10 a.m. matchup against Florida Atlantic, followed by a showdown with Florida Gulf Coast at 5 p.m. Both matches will take place at the FGCU Tennis Complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
After winning four straight matches, the Cowboys are riding their longest winning streak since 2009, and are coming off a 6-1 dismantling of Tyler Junior College on Feb. 9. This weekend’s contests will start off an extensive road trip for the Cowboys, who return home for a battle against No. 17 Tulsa on March 8.
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Eyeing the Opposition
After recording a 7-0 sweep over Hampton on Feb. 15, Florida Atlantic comes into Saturday’s matchup with a 2-4 record. The Owls started off the year at 0-3, but have won two of their last three. Oklahoma State defeated Florida Atlantic 4-3 last season in the teams’ first and only meeting.
Oklahoma State will travel to Fort Myers for its first match against Florida Gulf Coast in program history. FGCU has recorded a 3-4 mark, and most recently defeated Connecticut in a 7-0 sweep on Feb. 16.
The Cowboys currently hold a four-match winning streak, with wins over Western Illinois, Illinois State, Nebraska and Tyler Junior College. With wins on Saturday against Florida Atlantic and Florida Gulf Coast, Oklahoma State would match its longest win streak since a six-match run in 2009.
The doubles duos of Arovin/Bohrnstedt and Del Nunzio/Pume also hoist four-match winning streaks, and have been a critical help to the Cowboys’ doubles success.
Much of the Cowboys’ early season success can be attributed to the team’s sizeable amount of international players recruited by Jay Udwadia and Yevgen Bondarchuk. Those internationals include three Cowboy newcomers who have helped the Cowboys match their best start since 2009.
Oleksiy Arovin (Ukraine): 2-1 singles record at No. 6…4-1 doubles record at No. 3 with Brady Bohrnstedt…Joined the Cowboys this year after previously playing at Donetsk National University in Ukraine.
Rifat Biktyakov (Uzbekistan): 2-0 singles record at No. 1…2-1 doubles record at No. 1 with Matt Campbell…Recorded match-winning victory against Nebraska…Has accumulated a 38-30 overall singles record in four years with Oklahoma State…Will hope to return on Saturday after suffering an ankle injury against Nebraska.
Matt Campbell (Australia): 2-4 singles record at Nos. 3, 4 and 5…3-1 doubles record at Nos. 1 and 2…Joined OSU after reaching the JUCO national championship with Tyler Junior College in 2011 and 2012.
Denys Pume (Ukraine): 4-3 singles record at Nos. 2, 3 and 4…5-0 doubles record at Nos. 1 and 2.
In six of seven matches this season, the Cowboys have gained an early lead by winning each match’s doubles point. After being swept in the season opener by 19th-ranked Tennessee, the Cowboys have won 12 straight doubles matches. The biggest contributors to that category are Denys Pume and Richard Del Nunzio, who have achieved an undefeated 4-0 record together in doubles play.
Reversing a Trend
Oklahoma State, coming off a 7-14 year, is looking to earn the team’s first winning season since 2009. The squad finished off its fall season with a combined individual singles record of 17-19, highlighted by Biktyakov’s championship run at the Larry Easley Memorial Classic. The Cowboys currently sit at 5-2.