Baylor Texas tennis

Baylor’s Rhiann Newborn

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte

Matt Knoll doesn’t think playing the same opponent more than once in a season is difficult.

Even if it means playing the same opponent for the second time in less than a week – like the No. 6 Baylor men’s tennis team is doing this week as the Bears prepare to take on Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament at 10 a.m. Thursday in Norman.

Five days ago, Baylor dropped a hard fought battle 4-3 to the Red Raiders in Lubbock.

“We’re certainly more motivated than we would have been otherwise,” the Baylor men’s coach said. “It’ll be another good match.”

While the Bears gear up to take on a recent foe, the Lady Bears get ready for – what they hope – will be another string of multiple matches in a short period of time.

Just last week the No. 15 Baylor women’s team played three matches in five days.

“We played a Big 12 Tournament last week,” Baylor women’s coach Joey Scrivano said. “This team is really prepared. They doing let a lot of interference get in the way. Just focus on the task at hand. If we do that then everything will fall into place.”

Both Baylor teams are the three seed in this weekend’s Big 12 Tournament – the men facing off against Texas Tech and the women battling Oklahoma (4 p.m. Friday) at the Headington Family Tennis Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

The Lady Bears aren’t worried at all about going up against the Sooners on their home court.

Baylor has been there done that already this season as they topped Oklahoma 4-0 in Norman on March 10.

“We had a dress rehearsal back in March,” Scrivano said. “We played them on the road at their place. They’re a tough team. They have a new coach with amazing players who compete hard. We can’t overlook Oklahoma. We have to be ready to play them. If we do that then whatever happens, happens. I like our chances.”

The Lady Bears are one of three Big 12 teams ranked in the top 15 – No. 7 Texas Tech and No. 9 Oklahoma State – while the Baylor men are facing a loaded bracket with all but one Big 12 foe ranked inside the top 15.

TCU is fourth, followed by Baylor in sixth, Oklahoma State in eighth, Texas in ninth at Oklahoma at No. 15.

Texas Tech is No. 41.

“When you’re ranked whatever we’re ranked, you know we’re a pretty good team,” Knoll said. “We’re not intimidated by anyone. Our guys came to Baylor because they wanted to be on a team and compete at the highest level and here we are.”

While the Baylor men look to win their second Big 12 Tournament title in the last four years, the women look to win their third in four years.

Both Baylor programs have come home with the Big 12 Tournament title four times in the last decade (2007, 2008, 2009, 2014).

“You always want to win a championship,” Knoll said. “We’ve been playing really well. To win this tournament would been we’re playing as well as anybody in the country. That’s what’s so great about having a conference like this. We’ll know exactly where we stand after this one.”

As for the Lady Bears, Scrivano knows there are some steps they have to take before reaching the championship.

“This team has worked incredibly hard to put themselves in a position that they can even be in a conversation for a championship,” Scrivano said. “That’s a credit to the team. They’ve done the right things.”

The Lady Bears are currently on a seven match win streak and went undefeated through the season at home.

As has been the case during Scrivano’s time at Baylor, the Lady Bears are peaking at the right time.

“Traditionally we play our best tennis in April and May,” Scrivano said. “We are peaking and going in the right direction.”

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