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TCU Men’s Tennis: Another Big 12 Title on the Way?

After winning both the regular season and tournament titles each of the past two seasons, can the Frogs do it again?

Nearly a month ago, TCU’s men’s tennis team, arguably the most dominant program at the school over the past two years, had a 6-3 overall record, including a home loss to an at-the-time unranked San Diego team. The Frogs had just dropped to No. 33 in the Oracle/ITA Division I Men’s Collegiate Tennis Rankings and were the lowest-ranked of the six Big 12 teams. One month later and riding a 7-match winning streak, the Frogs appear to be ready to make another run at a Big 12 title.

This season started out relatively tough for TCU as Head Coach David Roditi had to find the right lineup of players. The Frogs had big shoes to fill as last year’s top-ranked collegiate singles player, Cam Norrie, turned professional after last season. However, TCU had the answer in junior Alex Rybakov, the lefty who was the Frogs’ No. 2 guy throughout last season and was just as consistent as Norrie.

The team seemed destined to come around though due to a strong core group of players. Senior Trevor Johnson has been impressive this season after having some strong showings in ITF tournaments in the offseason. The Frogs also returned senior Guillermo Nuñez, who was TCU’s No. 3 guy for most of last season. He may not be as dominant as Norrie or Rybakov, but he never gives up and usually finds a way to come away with the win.

Things began to click for this year’s squad right before spring break when TCU rolled to a 6-1 victory over Penn in Fort Worth. After taking that victory, the Frogs headed to Florida for matches against No. 17 Duke and No. 12 Florida. TCU was able to cruise to a 4-0 victory over the Blue Devils on March 13 and a day later, the Frogs were able to secure a narrow 4-3 win against the Gators. Nuñez had a phenomenal trip, winning both of his singles, including the winning match against Florida, and both of his doubles matches.

TCU returned back home to Texas with two more large tests looming. The Frogs were up to the task though as they took down No. 9 Columbia 4-0 in Fort Worth before heading to College Station to defeat the No. 6 Aggies 4-3. That incredible week, winning four top-17 matches in a matter of eight days, saw TCU rise from No. 32 to No.8 over the course of two weeks.

Since then, the Frogs have also secured victories over No. 32 Tulane (6-1) and UT Arlington (7-0).

Winning another Big 12 title will not be easy though as the conference, despite only fielding six teams, is one of the strongest.

Big 12 Tennis Rankings

Team National Ranking Overall Record Ranked Singles Players Top Singles Player Ranked Doubles Pairs Top Doubles Pair
Team National Ranking Overall Record Ranked Singles Players Top Singles Player Ranked Doubles Pairs Top Doubles Pair
TCU 10 13-3 4 No. 14 Alex Rybakov 3 No. 8 Nunez/Rybakov
Oklahoma State 14 18-3-1 2 No. 82 Julian Cash 2 No. 30 Cash/Hammond
Oklahoma 16 15-2 3 No. 60 Ferran Calvo 1 No. 61 Oetzbach/Calvo
Baylor 19 17-4 2 No. 44 Johannes Schretter 2 No. 3 Little/Schretter
Texas 20 12-4 4 No. 58 Yuya Ito 1 No. 6 Banzer/Telles
Texas Tech 29 17-5 1 No. 108 Tommy Mylnikov 0 N/A

Based on the rankings, the Frogs are the deepest team (on paper). Not only does TCU have the most total ranked individuals and pairs, their four singles players in particular are all ranked in the top 75, ahead of some teams’ top guys or 2nd-best guys. Also, in terms of chasing a regular season title, TCU has a friendly schedule as they will get to host both Oklahoma schools as well as Baylor.

Winning a tournament title will be a tougher task, as Texas gets to host that event this year. The Longhorns also have four ranked singles players so they will be able to compete with any Big 12 team. However, all four of TCU’s ranked players are ranked ahead of Texas’ second-highest ranked player.

As arguably the hottest team in the country over the last month and definitely one of the deepest squads in the nation, I personally like TCU’s chances to bring home either a regular season or tournament title, if not both.

The Frogs open Big 12 play against the Longhorns in Austin on Saturday before returning home for next three matches.