March 20, 2014
WACO, Texas (SMU) - The SMU Mustangs will travel to Waco, Texas, for a matchup with No. 5 Baylor at 1 p.m. on Saturday. SMU has won three of its last four matches, and led Columbia 2-0 before ultimately falling to the 19th-ranked Lions, 4-3, on Tuesday.
Fifth-ranked Baylor is 11-4 heading into a matchup with No. 35 Tulsa on Friday. The Bears have won three straight against highly-ranked teams - No. 3 UCLA on the road, No. 20 California and a sweep of No. 6 Illinois. Baylor has five players ranked in the ITA Top 125 singles rankings, including Julian Lenz (No. 8) and Patrick Pradella (No. 15). Lenz is 11-1 in dual matches and 22-4 overall this season, boasting a 7-1 mark at No. 1 singles and a 10-4 record against nationally-ranked foes.
SMU is 28-20 all-time against Baylor, including winning the first 18 meetings in the series between 1970-1987. The Mustangs' last win over Baylor came in Dallas on Jan. 23, 2001. The two teams have met every season since 1998.
"We play top teams so our guys can measure themselves and learn what it takes to compete at that level. We look forward to the challenge against Baylor."
(After beating Portland during windy and cold conditions) "It was the toughest conditions we've seen... It was a great test and I'm proud of how we responded. If these guys want to go pro, it's part of the show. They really responded well."
(On narrowly getting beat by 19th-ranked Columbia on Tuesday) "Columbia is the 19th-ranked team in the nation for a reason, they are very good. It's tough to have not been able to pull it out, but this shows where we can be. We're on the right path and I'm excited about that."
SMU's two seniors - Alex Sanders and Mischa Nowicki, have played strong tennis as of late, and earned the praise of head coach Carl Neufeld. "Our seniors are leading the way for us," Neufeld said on Tuesday. Sanders leads the Mustangs with 10 wins in dual matches, including a 5-2 record at No. 3 singles. Sanders won two matches at No. 1 from March 7-10 against Nicholls State and Cleveland State, and is 7-2 in his last nine decisions. Nowicki has six wins in dual matches, including two in-a-row against Portland and No. 19 Columbia. Nowicki now has 42 wins in his career at SMU.
SUCCESS AT SIX
The SMU Mustangs hold a 10-4 record in No. 6 singles, their top mark for any singles spot. Nate Lammons is 4-1 when playing at six, while freshmen Julio Olaya (4-0) and Arkidjas Slobodkins (2-1) have also garnered strong results at the position. Lammons also played solid tennis at No. 6 last season, going 9-5 in 2013 to total a 13-6 record over his two seasons.
ROAD FROM RIGA
SMU has two players that hail from Riga, Latvia - junior Arturs Kazijevs and freshman Arkidjas Slobodkins. Kazijevs began the season nationally ranked in singles and currently holds a 6-5 record, playing 10 matches at the No. 1 spot. Slobodkins began his collegiate career in January, and won six of his first seven matches. Last season, Kazijevs earned First Team All-Conference USA honors and ended the 2012-13 season ranked 108th in the nation.
MUSTANGS RETURN FIVE LETTERWINNERS
Arturs Kazijevs, Alex Sanders, Mischa Nowicki, Nate Lammons and Eduardo Razzeto all return for the Mustangs this season. Kazijevs finished 2012-13 ranked in the ITA top 125 in singles, earning First Team All-Conference USA honors. Kazijevs and Nowicki teamed up to earn a second team spot in doubles. Sanders and Nowicki are the only seniors on the team. Joining the team. Tony Russell will make his spring debut after redshirting last season, and both Julio Olaya and Arkidjas Slobodkins will join the roster as freshmen.
LAST TIME OUT (3/18/14):
SMU FALLS TO #19 COLUMBIA, 4-3
The SMU Mustangs jumped out to a 2-0 lead over No. 19 Columbia, but the Lions were able to answer with four singles victories to defeat the Mustangs, 4-3, at the Bent Tree Country Club.
SMU won the doubles point with wins at No. 2 and No. 3. Arturs Kazijevs and Tony Russell teamed up for an 8-0 win at No. 3 doubles over Dragos Ignat and Richard Pham. Nate Lammons and Alex Sanders continued their strong doubles efforts with a solid 8-5 win at No. 2 to seal the first point of the match for the Mustangs. Arkidjas Slobodkins and Mischa Nowicki were able keep the 12th-ranked doubles pair of Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur off the scoreboard in No. 1 doubles.
Mischa Nowicki took the first singles point for SMU, winning at No. 2 over Ignat; 6-3, 6-2. No. 14 Winston Lin won for Columbia at No. 1 singles, and the Lions took the next three singles matches at positions 4-6 to clinch the match victory.
Sanders was able to get a three-set victory at No. 3 singles over Narayana; 4-6, 7-6, 10-6.
Mustangs head coach Carl Neufeld was proud of the effort his team gave, especially with how they won convincingly in doubles and with the squad's two seniors winning at two of the top three singles spots.
"I'm excited that we played our best doubles of the year," SMU head coach Carl Neufeld said. "We played exceptionally well in doubles. Our seniors are leading the way for us; we just need the rest of the guys to step it up a bit. Columbia is the 19th-ranked team in the nation for a reason, they are very good. It's tough to have not been able to pull it out, but this shows where we can be. We're on the right path and I'm excited about that."
LAST TIME OUT (3/16/14):
SMU SOARS PAST PORTLAND, 6-0
The SMU Mustangs beat the Portland Pilots, 6-0, at the Four Seasons at Las Colinas to improve to 9-7 this season.
Both teams battled heavy wind gusts and cold temperatures all match, and SMU head coach Carl Neufeld is glad with how his group responded.
"It was the toughest conditions we've seen," Neufeld said. "It was a great test and I'm proud of how we responded. If these guys want to go pro, it's part of the show. They really responded well."
Arkidjas Slobodkins and Mischa Nowicki quickly won at No. 1 doubles over Alex Ferrero and Ratan Gill, 8-2, to improve to 2-0 as a duo. Nate Lammons and Alex Sanders earned their 16th win of the season with an 8-4 decision over Reid DeLaubenfels and Kent Andreasen, leaving the No. 3 doubles match unfinished.
SMU won four singles matches in straight sets. Both of SMU's seniors earned victories, with Nowicki won 7-5, 7-5, over DeLaubenfels at No. 2, and Sanders topping Gill at No. 3, 6-1, 6-1. Slobodkins picked up his eighth win of the year at No. 5, 6-4, 6-2, over Justin Guay. Julio Olaya defeated Andreasen at No. 6, 6-2, 6-1. Lammons won at No. 4 singles in three sets over Ferrero, 6-2, 4-6, 10-8.