Season Opener Set for Sunday
NORMAN – The No. 13 Oklahoma men’s tennis team will open the 2019 season Sunday when it hosts Abilene Christian at 2 p.m. CT at the Headington Family Tennis Center.
OU returns seven players from 2018: seniors Spencer Papa, Alex Bakshi and Ferran Calvo; junior Jochen Bertsch; and sophomores Max Stewart, Stefano Tsorotiotis and Jake Van Emburgh.
The Sooners also added three freshmen in Mason Beiler, Taine Bernhard and Matt Rodriguez, who joined the roster in August. All three participated in fall tournaments, with Rodriguez leading the Sooners in singles wins.
"Everyone came back from break really hungry," said head coach Nick Crowell, who is entering his third season at the helm for the Sooners. “When you come out this weekend you're going to see a lot of hungry guys playing really hard."
Oklahoma is also joined by two new coaches. Former OU standout Nick Papac was named as the program's assistant coach in June 2018. Papac was a member of the of 2015 ITA Indoor National Championship team, as well as the 2014 and 2015 squads that reached the NCAA Championship final. Papac won three consecutive Big 12 Championships with the Sooners and captained the team in his senior year.
Raheel Manji comes to OU as the Sooners’ volunteer assistant. Manji played at Indiana from 2014-18, where he tallied over 100 career wins. A native of Pickering, Ontario, Canada, Manji represented his nation at the World University Games in 2015.
The Sooners posted a 20-6 record on the 2018 season and earned their ninth consecutive NCAA appearance and ninth straight NCAA Regional hosting honor. After two seasons at the helm for the Sooners, Crowell is 37-17 in dual matches and 7-1 against regional opponents.
Bakshi and Calvo represented OU in the NCAA singles tournament, with Bakshi advancing to the second round.
OU brought home all three of the Big 12’s postseason awards for players. Bakshi was named both Big 12 Player and Newcomer of the Year, while Van Emburgh was tabbed Freshman of the Year.
The Sooners also garnered three ITA Central Region Honors. Bakshi was named Player to Watch, the honor given to a nationally or regionally ranked player who is anticipated to be one of the top returning regional players the following year. Van Emburgh was selected as ITA Central Region Rookie of the Year and Crowell was the Coach of the Year.
OU owns a 3-0 record in the series with Abilene Christian. The teams last met in 2018 in Norman, with the Sooners coming out on top, 4-1.
First serve is set for 2 p.m. CT. Free pizza will be provided for fans in attendance at Sunday’s match. Fans can also pick up a copy of the 2019 poster.
OU Athletics has introduced a clear bag policy and walk-through metal detectors at all home events this season. More information on the policy and procedures can be found here.
Admission to home tennis matches is always free.