Last season, the TCU men’s tennis team upset Texas Tech in Lubbock by a final score of 4-3. The Horned Frogs also bested the Red Raiders two years ago at home by the same score.
But on Thursday at 5:30 p.m, the No. 21 team in the nation will look to exact revenge on the No. 3 Frogs at the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center. TCU then returns to action Saturday at 1 p.m. against South Florida.
Texas Tech (16-4, 0-0 Big 12) has won five consecutive matches including victories over No. 21 San Diego, No. 37 Notre Dame and No. 39 Indiana. The Red Raiders are led by No. 40 Felipe Soares, No. 113 Jolan Cailleau, and the No. 21 doubles combo of Soares and Hugo Dojas.
“They’re always very competitive,” head coach David Roditi said. “They’re very solid [in singles] one through six. I expect them to be very confident.”
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” senior Nick Chappell said. “They’re going to be ready to play, especially coming in on the road as underdogs.”
Soares defeated No. 36 Chappell 6-4, 6-3 in last season’s match. Cailleau was victorious as well, taking down former Frog Andres Alfonzo 6-2, 6-4. Roditi said he is unsure whether Chappell or No. 37 Cameron Norrie will face Soares on Thursday.
“He’s a very well-rounded player,” Roditi said. “He can play from the back and he can come forward.”
South Florida (13-5, 2-1 American Athletic) had its nine-match winning streak snapped by No. 27 Tulsa on Sunday, but earned wins over Texas Tech, No. 28 Princeton, No. 31 Minnesota, No. 47 North Carolina-Wilmington and No. 65 Tulane during the stretch. No. 20 Roberto Cid and the No. 36 doubles team of Oliver Pramming and Justin Roberts head the charge for the Bulls.
“They’re going to be extremely energetic,” Roditi said. “Over the top, just loud and rowdy and competitive. I would describe our match against South Florida as a backstreet alley fight between two street dogs going at it… It’s going to be feisty.”
TCU has won six of its last seven matches, five over ranked opponents. In addition to being undefeated at home, the Frogs have also exceeded their win total from last year by three victories.
Roditi said one of the areas the Frogs have improved from last year is their preparation.
“I think where I’ve seen us improve on the court is our preparation,” Roditi said. “Our preparation is as good or better than it’s ever been.”
Chappell also said the team has benefited from better preparation.
“The matches we’ve played the best in have come when we’ve had really good practices and really good preparation,” Chappell said. “So as long as we keep doing that everyday… I’m sure we’re going to have great results at the end of the season.”
Roditi said a reason for the team’s improved preparation is the presence of first-year assistant coach and TCU alumnus Devin Bowen.
“He’s brought just another level of preparation and commitment and excellence on how to do things, and that’s made a huge impact on how our team is approaching competition,” Roditi said.
Additionally, Roditi said a reason the Frogs have been so successful this season is because of an influx of young talent and the development of the team’s older players.
“We have better players,” he said. “Our seniors are better than they were last year and our freshmen are better than our freshmen last year… We’ve noticed what kind of impact [freshmen] Cameron Norrie, Guillermo Nunez and Trevor Johnson have done to our lineup, and in addition to that, you take our core senior class… They’ve gotten better with their experience and they’ve taken it up a notch.”
A win over the Red Raiders would even TCU’s conference record at two games apiece. A victory over South Florida would give the Frogs their sixth over a ranked opponent in nine tries, seven if they win the match on Thursday.