The men’s tennis team will debut Friday at the HEB Baylor Intercollegiate Invitational in Waco.
The focus for the team this season is to improve as a program, said head coach Dave Borelli.
“We have the toughest schedule we have had in seven or eight years. It is going to be a real challenge for us,” Borelli said. “You can’t get better unless you play the best. Beating a great team makes you a better player. Beating a bad team doesn’t make you better.”
Baylor, the eighth-ranked team in the nation, is just one of a strong slate of opponents the Horned Frogs will face this season, including the No. 4 University of Texas Longhorns and No. 23 Texas A&M Aggies.
The team has no freshmen this year. Most of the new players are transfers from other universities, Borelli said.
“Seven out of our top eight are back this season,” Borelli said.
Kriegler Brink is the lone senior on the team. He finished last season with an ITA singles ranking of 93.
Brink pairs with sophomore Zach Nichols in doubles play. The duo has never played a match together, but they are hoping to produce good results as a team, Nichols said.
Borelli said his strategy is to look ahead.
“It will be two or three years down the road that we will be a top 10 program. That’s my goal,” he said.
The upcoming season will be Borelli’s third year as the head coach of the men’s tennis team. Under his direction, the team finished last season as Mountain West Conference regular season champions and ranked No. 34 in the nation.
The program welcomed Jason Marshall as the new assistant coach this summer. He is a former member of the ATP Tennis Tour and two-time Big Ten champion.
Nichols said Marshall was “a lot more into off-court training.”
“The main difference is we are spending a lot more time in the gym than on the tennis court,” Nichols said.
The upcoming tournaments will serve as a marker on which the team hopes to improve, Borelli said. He said he is focused more on individual success rather than team success.
“The fall gives the guys a good chance to prove their abilities and to show the coach what they can do,” Nichols said. “We are as prepared as any other team in the tournament.”
The team will leave Texas only once during the fall tournament season. The top four players from the Baylor Invitational will go on to compete in Tulsa, Okla., at the ITA All-American Tournament beginning Oct. 2. The team will play four tournaments in six weeks and will end its tournament schedule in Austin at the Texas Invitational.
FOR YOUR INFO
What: Men’s tennis team’s season opener
When: Friday, all day
Where: Baylor Tennis Center