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Baylor's tennis teams gain national recognition

Jan. 21, 2004

By Jacob Ford, reporter

The Baylor men's and women's tennis teams will begin the spring season with new team and individual rankings released by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association earlier this month.

The men's team received the highest national tennis ranking in Baylor tennis history by grabbing the No. 2 spot.

The Bears also received 13 of 32 first place votes, falling just short of the University of Illinois who acquired 19 first place votes.

Men's tennis head Coach Matt Knoll said he was not surprised by the rankings.

'It's certainly nice to be ranked and recognized that the program is doing some good things,' Knoll said. 'At the same time we realize it's not based on any results from this year.'

Last season the men were ranked as high as No. 3. The Bears posted a 28-2 record that included a second straight Big 12 Championship and ended in the quarterfinals of the NCAA championship tournament.

The ITA team rankings are decided and voted upon by an ITA Regional Committee and the individual rankings are determined by an ITA National Committee.

Players move up in individual rankings

Along with the unprecedented team rankings, the Bears had multiple individual rankings. Benedikt Dorsch, a junior from Germany, finished the fall with a No. 1 ITA ranking, but he will begin the spring season with a No. 3 ranking.

Benjamin Becker, a junior from Germany, received a No. 5 ranking, joining Dorsch among the elite of college tennis.

'They performed at a pretty good level this fall, and the biggest key for them is to continue to get better,' Knoll said.

No other school can boast of having two players in the top 15 of the ITA rankings. Dorsch's and Becker's top-5 rankings are rare for two players on the same team.

Matija Zgaga, a freshman from Slovenia, finished the fall with a 7-2 record and grabbed the No. 94 spot in the ITA rankings.

Men's team adds fresh faces

There have also been new additions made to the men's tennis team for the spring.

Matias Marin, a senior from Argentina, and Reiner Neurohr, a senior from Germany, are returning to the team after taking the fall semester off.

'It's nice to have a whole team together again,' Knoll said.

'Just having those guys around is good for the program.'

Barry McLaren, a sophomore from Scotland, has also been reactivated for the spring season after enduring an injury.

'He's still not hitting tennis balls full-speed, but he's running and doing some of the training with us,' Knoll said.

Adrian Szatmary, a freshman from Hungary, joined the team in his first season for the Bears.

Becker and Marin played in the Sherwood Collegiate Cup last weekend in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and advanced to the semifinals in the doubles bracket before they were defeated by the University of California's Patrick Braiud, a junior from College Station, and Balazs Veress, a senior from Hungary.

Neurohr competed in the singles matches in the tournament as well. The men's team begins its spring season against Mississippi State University at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Baylor Tennis Center.

Lady Bears ready for spring season

The women's team also received national recognition in the ITA rankings. The women own the No. 32 ranking in the country and placed three players in the top 30 of the regional rankings.

Head Coach Joey Scrivano also said that Stephanie Balzert, a sophomore from Germany, and Daria Potapova, a junior from Spain, were ranked No. 45 in the ITA national doubles rankings.

'The team ranking is a fair prediction of where we are right now, but I also think we could build on that and be a top 25 team by April,' Scrivano said.

After chalking up a 12-1 record during the fall, Carolin Walter, a freshman from Germany, received a No. 8 ranking in the Southwest Region.

Scrivano said he was disappointed she did not receive a national ranking.

'She definitely has a bright future ahead of her,' Scrivano said.

'She's a strong candidate for Freshman of the Year in the Big 12 and Newcomer of the Year in the Big 12.'

The women's team returned to New Braunfels to participate in a training session.

Scrivano said that the girls came back in great shape and ready for the spring season.

'It showed that they were working hard over the break,' Scrivano said.

The Lady Bears return to action Saturday against No. 4 Duke University at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

The men's and women's teams competed together in an exhibition match on Saturday.

Knoll said this gave the younger players an opportunity to play in a team format.