Men's tennis: Sooners head east for the weekend
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
The No. 5 OU men’s tennis team travels to the East Coast this weekend to play No. 22 Wake Forest and No. 1 Virginia.
The Sooners will travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. to play the 9-2 Demon Deacons at 3 p.m. Friday. After that, the team will shift its focus to the Cavaliers at 11 a.m. Sunday in Charlottesville, Va.
“It’s a challenging road trip going east and going that far,” coach John Roddick said. “It’s something we do every year, we’ve gone to Virginia or they have come here every year since I’ve been here. And this is the first year we have added Wake [Forest].”
In the last two years, the Sooners have played Virginia twice, losing each time by at least three points. However, OU is looking to change the recent outcomes against Virginia, but first they will have to take care of Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons have jumped 9 spots in the ITA rankings since last week and have lost two matches this year.
“Obviously, we’re going out there and we have to worry about Wake Forest first,” Roddick said. “They’ve clearly had a good year so far. It’s not something we’re going to overlook and we’re going to get ready for that match first.”
OU has never been ranked this highly as a team in the entire team history. The Sooners carry a 7-2 record this season coming into the weekend.
Despite the high ranking, players on the team are not affected by the pressures of a top-five team. The quality wins on the road this season have helped the team prove its case for a spot with the elite teams in college tennis.
“We are kind of expecting those results, and we’re not really scared of the rankings,” senior Costin Paval said. “We’re going to try to keep moving forward as a team.”
Paval looks at the ranking as an advantage. He said if the team is ranked higher, then they will have a better draw in the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman Leonard Stakhovsky likes the ranking. It is a benefit of all the hard work the team has done, but the team still needs to keep working hard, Stakhovsky said.
However, Roddick said rankings should not have a big effect on the team because at the same time last year the team was ranked No. 30, but everyone on the team knew they were better than that. OU finished the season at No. 10 last year.
This early in the season, the team knows being ranked this highly means almost nothing. The team is more focused on the task at hand—focusing on one match at a time.