NORMAN, Okla. -- The quest for a third straight Big 12 Championship for head coach John Roddick and the OU men’s tennis program begins Friday as the fall season opens.
Roddick’s squad will compete in six tournaments before flying their best to New York City for the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships.
“This year I really want to do well in the conference and also at a national level,” Roddick said. “Again I want to ensure that we’re playing at the final site like we did last year. Not only that, but advance farther to the final site.”
Four Sooners advanced to the national indoors last season, but inclement weather restricted their travel and they were forced to withdraw.
This fall, the Sooners begin the season on the West Coast when they visit Napa, Calif., to compete in the USTA Challenger.
The team will then head south to Waco, Texas for the Baylor Invitational, Sept 20-22. From there, the Sooners will make the short trip to Tulsa for the All- American Championships.
“In 2009 we were 25-7[at the All-Americans] overall, and if we can get into that range where we’re winning three, four or five matches to every loss we have, that’s what we want,” Roddick said.
The squad comes into the fall season fresh off its second straight Big 12 Championship title and its second consecutive NCAA Championships run.
Oklahoma has three returning starters anchoring the team this year, juniors Nick Papac and Dane Webb and senior Guillermo Alcorta. Joining the returning members are freshman Andrew Harris and sophomore Austin Siegel who transferred from Louisville.
Over the summer Papac competed in the in the U.S. Open National Qualifying Sectional, winning the men’s singles title and competed in the U.S. Open National Playoffs.
Both Webb and Alcorta will also have key roles in ensuring success this season. Webb was named a 2012 All-American and his leadership, especially on the doubles side, is vital. As for Alcorta, he had an impressive spring, playing in 24 matches in the No. 2 spot and led a single match in the No. 1 position. He is currently ranked No. 36 in the ITA’s preseason rankings.
“The core of our team was our top four and we have three of those four coming back along with some great newcomers,” Roddick said. “If this team gets better, the way the talent is, if they get better from start to finish we’re going to have a chance to do really well.”
Freshman Andrew Harris already has an impressive resume, even before playing in a single match in an OU uniform. The Australia native won the 2012 Junior Wimbledon Championships and also took first at the Rolland Garros Junior French Championships. Adding to that, the freshman standout has been ranked as high as No. 6 in the ITF junior rankings.
“Andrew has a great resume already,” Roddick said. “Being a junior Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, he comes from a high pedigree. He’s a very motivated kid and works hard and he’s already brought another level of professionalism to our team.”
The Sooners close out their season in Austin, Texas when they face archrival, Texas at the UT Invitational on Nov. 7.
For more on OU Men’sTennis, follow the team @OU_MTennis on Twitter.