March 16, 2014
MANOA, Hawaii -
The No. 18 Oklahoma State men’s tennis team will begin a five-match road trip on Monday with a 5 p.m. battle against San Francisco in Manoa, Hawaii.
The Cowboys (15-2) will also take on the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in a 7 p.m. matchup on Tuesday. After sweeping home doubleheaders and amassing a four-match win streak, OSU will look to close out its non-conference slate with success before taking on No. 43 TCU on March 28.
Should the Cowboys win both matches in Hawaii, their 17-2 record heading into conference play would be their best since bringing an 11-1 mark into their Big 12 opener against Nebraska in 2007.
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Eyeing the Opposition
The San Francisco Dons have compiled an 8-6 mark through 14 dual matches in 2014, but have yet to defeat a ranked opponent after falling to No. 16 California, No. 35 TCU and No. 43 Santa Clara. San Francisco and OSU have only faced off once in head-to-head action, with the Dons earning a 5-4 victory in 1980.
The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors have only been victorious in one of eight matches this season, but have been tested by a rigorous schedule highlighted by five top-50 opponents. The Cowboys will look to improve a 5-2 advantage over Hawaii in the all-time head-to-head series.
Welcome to the Rankings
After beginning the season unranked, the Cowboys jumped into the No. 51 spot of the ITA Rankings on Jan. 21, and currently sit at No. 18.
OSU joins the rest of its conference opponents in the national rankings, and will look to continue its strong play to surpass Big 12 foes Oklahoma (No. 2), Texas (No. 7) and Baylor (No. 12), while maintaining ground on No. 38 Texas Tech and No. 43 TCU.
Three members of the 2014 Cowboy Tennis squad were inserted into the ITA National Rankings on Feb. 11, marking the first time a Cowboy individual has been represented in the polls this season.
Junior Jakob Sude received the first individual ranking of his career, coming in at No. 70 in ITA’s National Singles Rankings. Sude has compiled a 6-2 singles record in six appearances, highlighted by his straight sets victory over Tennessee’s Mikelis Libietis, formerly the nation’s 34th-ranked singles standout, as well as a strong performance in an unfinished match against No. 12 Danii Proskura. Sude currently sits at No. 72 as of March 11. Sude’s ranking is the highest in singles since former Cowboy Vlad Bondarenko’s No. 60 position on Jan. 3, 2012.
In the ITA National Doubles Rankings, undefeated Arjun Kadhe and Brady Bohrnstedt premiered at the No. 38 spot after racking up six consecutive wins to open the 2014 season. The duo also boasts a win over a highly-ranked opponent in Tennessee’s 28th-ranked Fickey/Chaplin doubles squad, and became the highest-ranked Cowboy Tennis tandem since Rifat Biktyakov and Aleksey Bessonov finished the 2011 season at No. 27. The duo is currently unranked after suffering its first two losses of the season against Arkansas and Tulsa.
The 2013 Cowboy Tennis squad saw its doubles team compile a 37-14 dual record, marking a massive improvement for the team and helping OSU begin to develop a reputation as one of the nation’s up-and-coming doubles powers.
That success has passed on into 2014, as the Cowboys’ doubles squads remain an impressive 28-12 through 17 matches in dual play. The team also provided strong performances in the fall despite pairing with new partners, as Oklahoma State sent two doubles teams to the quarterfinal round of ITA’s Central Region Championships.
Shock And Awe
After defeating Georgia St. on Feb. 9, the Cowboys reached 8-0 for the first time in school history, setting a school record for the best start ever for Cowboy Tennis. The eight wins to begin the season surpassed the 1998 squad’s six and the previous-high of seven from 1997. The Cowboys’ loss at No. 32 Tulsa on Feb. 23 ended the team’s record start.
The 2014 season not only saw the Cowboys jump out to their best start in school history, but also helped OSU compile its longest home winning streak since a 12-match streak from 2006-08.
The Pokes are 10-1 at the Greenwood Tennis Center, and will look to increase that mark on April 6 when they welcome the SMU Mustangs to Stillwater.
In do-or-die tiebreaker situations this year, the Cowboys have compiled an 18-7 advantage, signifying that the team has performed extremely well when under pressure. Jakob Sude is 4-1 in deciding singles set tiebreakers, and Lucas Gerch owns five tiebreaker victories of his own.
Oklahoma State’s clutch tiebreaker wins have been instrumental in the team’s two biggest wins of the year, as the Pokes won four out of five tiebreakers against No. 6 Tennessee and went a perfect 6-0 in tiebreaker play in the team’s sweep over No. 36 Alabama.
Strength of Schedule
Coach Udwadia has given the Cowboys a challenging task for the spring by scheduling 16 ranked opponents, giving OSU the 33rd most difficult schedule in the country based on number of ranked opponents faced and quality of opponent.
The team's tough slate includes six matches against teams ranked in the top 25, as well as contests against top-10 opponents Baylor, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Seven of the Cowboys' ranked opponents will visit Stillwater, including three in the top ten. OSU is 7-2 against currently ranked opponents in 2014.
Bring Out The Brooms
OSU has shutout nine opponents in 17 matches this season, the most in as many matches since the 2006 squad that reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In 2014, the Cowboys have swept currently-ranked opponents San Diego State, Dartmouth and Alabama, as well as South Dakota State, Southern Illinois, New Orleans, Oral Roberts, Nebraska-Omaha and Lamar.
The Future Is Now
The Cowboys bring in the year with a bang by debuting the Greenwood Tennis Center, Oklahoma State's newest athletic facility that will give the tennis program its first new home in more than 30 years. The state-of-the-art complex houses six indoor courts and 12 future outdoor courts, as well as an electronic scoreboard and videoboard.
2014 will also mark the debut of new assistant coach Pepe Cabellero, who joins the Cowboys after serving two years as head coach of the Hong Kong Tennis Association. Caballero takes the team's position after former assistant Yevgen Bondarchuk held the spot for the last eight years.
Taking Their Talents to Stillwater
Head Coach Jay Udwadia's 2014 signing class brings five new members to the Cowboy Tennis squad and is highlighted by several international standouts, as well as last year's top high school player in Oklahoma.