NORMAN, Okla. The Oklahoma men’s tennis team (17-5, 2-5) travels to Austin, Texas, to play in-state rival No. 16 Oklahoma State (19-5, 5-2) at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center on Texas’ campus. The two face off in the first round of the 2005 Big 12 Tournament on Friday, April 29 at 12 p.m.
Oklahoma enters the 2005 Big 12 Conference Men’s Tennis Championship as the No. 6 seed. The Sooners tied Texas and Colorado for fifth-place in the league standings at 2-5, however tournament host Texas gets first choice at the time slots and will play the 3 p.m. match on Friday as the No. 5 seed. OU upset UT, 4-3, giving the Sooners the sixth seed while pushing Colorado to the seventh seed, even after beating OU, 4-3, last Saturday in Boulder. The Cowboys are seeded third, after Baylor and Texas A&M.
OSU won the last match up with the Sooners, 4-3, in Norman. Oklahoma easily won the doubles point, but only junior Tommy Garrison and senior Ondrej Fukala picked up singles wins over the Cowboys. OU also faced Oklahoma State in last year’s Big 12 Tournament, losing to the Cowboys, 4-1.
OSU leads the Bedlam Series 38-31, and no current Sooners have ever beaten the Cowboys during regular season action. The Cowboys have won 12 consecutive matches against Oklahoma.
All of Oklahoma State’s losses have been to ranked opponents and its two conference losses were to Baylor and Texas A&M. OSU’s No. 1 player is senior Mark Van Elden. Van Elden is currently ranked 27th in the ITA singles rankings. Van Elden and OU’s 65th-ranked sophomore Marek Velicka have faced off three times this year, with Van Elden holding the edge 2-1.
Senior Ondrej Fukala, junior Tommy Garrison and Velicka lead the Sooners. Fukala and Garrison each own 17 wins, respectively, while Velicka owns a 16-6 spring record. Garrison has won 16 consecutive matches and is three wins shy of tying the school record for most consecutive victories. Former OU standout Joe Braver holds the mark with 19 victories in the 1982 season. Garrison also owns a flawless 7-0 record against Big 12 opponents and 10-0 at the No. 4 spot.
OU doubles teams carry momentum into the tournament as well. The No. 1 duo of Garrison and Fukala and the No. 2 team of Velicka and senior Silviu Tanasoiu have each won five straight matches.
Oklahoma’s regular season record of 17-5, is its fewest losses in 13 years. In 1992, OU went 20-4 and won the Big Eight Championship title by defeating the Kansas Jayhawks. Oklahoma also sent several Sooners to the NCAA Tournament that same year.
“The quality of this team and the 1992 team are similar in some of the positions. The Big 12 is tougher and has better depth than the Big Eight, but we have the quality individuals you need to compete well in the tournament,” said head coach Paul Lockwood.