Sooners prepare to 'just play solid tennis' for Bedlam
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
The No. 13 OU men’s tennis teams hopes to finish the Big 12 regular season strong when it hosts in-state rival Oklahoma State at 1 p.m. Sunday in Norman.
Since being drummed, 6-1, in last week’s matchup against No. 15 Baylor, the Sooners (16-6, 3-1 Big 12) bounced back with a win against No. 46 Texas Tech and remain focused on closing the regular season with Bedlam victory against the Cowboys (11-12, 0-4 Big 12).
“We had a pretty bad loss last week against Baylor, but I think we will be ready to play this weekend against Oklahoma State,” freshman Axel Llamas said. “I think we are going to do really well, we can rebound from last week’s loss.”
OU has won its last five matches against the unranked Cowboys. The goal Sunday is to avoid complacency and play its best tennis.
“Records don’t really mean that much,” coach John Roddick said. “You need to go out there and not get complacent and just play solid tennis. Our guys have been in there a few times, especially recently, and realize if they do a good job and not allow the match to get competitive that’s what you want to do when you’re a strong favorite.”
The Sooners come into the Bedlam match-up riding the strong play of its top four singles players — senior Costin Paval, junior Guillermo Alcorta, sophomore Dane Webb and Llamas — which has been the case most of the season due to injuries at the bottom of the lineup.
Oklahoma State does not boast any ITA-ranked doubles or singles players and has no wins in conference this year. Senior Costin Paval said the rivalry is important, but not like it used to be in years past.
However, there are still things to play for.
With a win on Sunday, OU earns a buy as the No. 2 seed in the first round of the Big 12 conference tournament later this month in Norman, and keeps its chances alive for a share of the regular season title.
“[A buy] is huge,” Roddick said. “Playing two matches in two days versus three matches in three days is a big difference. Securing that buy is obviously a big focus and hopefully we’ll have a chance to compete for a conference title on Sunday if all goes well between Baylor and Texas.”
But Roddick’s squad was not so fortunate on Wednesday when Baylor beat Texas 6-1 to earn at least a share of the regular season conference title—an outright title if it can beat No. 37 TCU on Sunday.
There is still a chance though. With an OU win and a Baylor loss on Sunday, the team can still earn a share of the regular season title, however, the chances are bleak.
The Sooners remain poised and will try to continue their five-match winning streak against the in-state foe on Sunday.