The Baylor men’s and women’s tennis teams are a combined 23-2 at the Hurd Tennis Center this season.
They hope to continue that kind of dominant play at home as both squads will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
The Bears are scheduled to host Cornell, Rice and Lamar May 12-13, while the Lady Bears welcome Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M and Louisiana-Monroe May 13-14.
“We knew hosting would be a big component moving forward considering we were undefeated at home this year,” assistant coach Chris Frusci said. “We take care of our home court pretty well, so that was big for us. We said as long as we stayed in that top 16 we didn’t care where (we were). We’re just happy to be in that position to host.”
The Lady Bears are currently ranked 15th in the country and were uncertain if they would stay inside the top 16 after going 1-1 at the Big 12 Championships.
The Baylor men’s team, however, was more certain about its ability to host with its No. 6 ranking.
“It is huge to host,” coach Matt Knoll said. “I am really thrilled for our guys, for the school and the community. To be able to have NCAA tennis here on campus is great. Everyone is great at this time of the year. Everybody won their league or had a great season. We are playing Lamar to open and they are conference champions. They have had a lot of success and I am sure they are going to be confident. We are going to have to be ready to go.”
Lamar earned an automatic bid after winning the Southland Conference for a second-straight year. The Cardinals currently own a 17-7 record, following eight wins in their last nine matches.
Baylor takes on Lamar 10 a.m. Friday, followed by Cornell (21-3) and Rice (23-7) at 1 p.m.
The winners of those two matches will play at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Bears will be making their 20th-consecutive NCAA Championship appearance and be hosting for the 13th-time overall and the 12th time in the last 15 years.
Baylor is 53-18 in NCAA Championship play all-time and has only lost twice in the opening two rounds in 1998 and 2001. When hosting, Baylor holds a 24-0 record in first and second round NCAA matches.
“The postseason is what it is all about,” Knoll said. “We have to survive and advance. We are lucky we have a couple weeks off. Our guys will take some finals and re-engage. I expect us to play our best tennis down the stretch.”
The Lady Bears earned their 13th-straight and 20th overall selection to the tournament.
Following a 10 a.m. match between Texas A&M (16-12) and Louisiana-Monroe (16-1), Baylor will meet Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (20-2) in the first round at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Winners advance to the second round match, which is set for 4 p.m. on Sunday.
“We don’t know them very well,” Frusci said. “First we have to focus on getting through finals and then getting back to practice. Since we don’t know much about them, we have to treat them like any other opponent.”
The Lady Bears have advanced to the Round of 16 in 10 of the last 12 seasons, including six Elite Eight (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015) and two Final Four (2008, 2011) appearances.
“This year, you could tell with just the personnel and the players we had, that we could make a little more of a run this year,” senior Blair Shankle said. “We have. It’s a big deal for us to be hosting right now. Coming out of conference we did pretty well. It’s a really tough conference this year. We’re really excited to get back on the court and see what we can do in the NCAA.”
Six Big 12 women’s tennis teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament with half of them national seeds and hosts – No. 6 Texas Tech, No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 16 Baylor.
Five Big 12 men’s tennis teams received tournament bids as all but one are hosts – No. 6 TCU, No. 7 Baylor, No. 10 Texas and No. 11 Oklahoma State.
“The Big 12 is crazy,” Knoll said. “The teams dropped in seeding because we beat up on each other. … We’re lucky to be in this league because it prepares you for what’s coming.”