WACO, Texas - The sixth-ranked Baylor men's tennis team will travel to Athens, Ga., to compete in the NCAA Championships Round of 16 on Friday.
The Bears will face No. 12 Illinois at 11 a.m. CT to set up a possible matchup with the winner of No. 4 Virginia and No. 14 Notre Dame in the quarterfinal round held Saturday at noon.
Baylor is making its 15th, and 13th straight, trip to the NCAA final site, and reached the 25-win mark for the 11th time in the Matt Knoll era, after getting past Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and No. 43 Tulsa in first and second rounds.
CHAMPIONSHIP QUICK HITS:
BAYLOR IN NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY: Baylor has amassed an impressive 47-15 (.750) all-time NCAA Championship record. The Bears have been selected to compete in postseason play for 17 straight seasons including this year, and have reached the round of 16 15 times, including 13 straight trips.
LAST YEAR IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: Baylor received an at large bid for the 2013 NCAA Championships and hosted first and second round action. The Bears defeated Prairie View A&M, in the first round, before securing a 4-2 victory over No. 25 Tulsa in the second round. The Bears then traveled to Urbana, Ill., to compete in the Round of 16 where they met up with fourth-ranked USC. After winning the doubles point, the Bears weren't able to keep the momentum going and lost to the Trojans, 4-1.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: With the first and second round home wins, the Bears remained perfect at home in the 2014 dual-match season at 17-0 and improved to 22-0 at home in NCAA Championship play.
WHEN COMPETING IN ATHENS: Baylor has recorded a 5-6 record when playing in Athens, Ga. during NCAA play. The Bears reached the semifinal round in 2007 marking their deepest run in play at the site. The Bears last visited Athens in 2012 where their NCAA run was cut short after falling to eighth-ranked Duke in the round of 16.
TEAM STREAKS & TRENDS: Baylor enters the NCAA Championship Round of 16 winning 17 of its last 18 matches. The Bears recorded a season high 11-match win streak that stretched from March 12 to April 8 and equaled their largest win streak since the 2011 season.
SINGLES STREAKS & TRENDS: Junior Mate Zsiga has won 10 of his last 11 matches. Zsiga has played predominantly in the four and five spots this season and has recorded a 19-6 record in dual-match play. Julian Lenz owns the most singles wins on the team with a 34-6 record and a 23-3 mark in dual-match action.
THE ALL-IMPORTANT DOUBLES POINT: The Bears have again been dominant in winning doubles points. Baylor only lost four doubles points during regular-season play, but swept the doubles point four times. The Bears won 25 doubles points this season and continued on to record a win in all, but one match when recording the opening point.
BEARS IN NEUTRAL SITE CONTESTS: Baylor competed in six neutral site matches this season and recorded a 4-2 record including a 4-0 victory over Illinois in the Oracle Collegiate Cup on March 16.
LOOKING AHEAD: A Baylor victory vs. Illinois would advance the Bears to the quarterfinal round for the first time since 2011 and would set up a match against the winner of 13th-seeded Notre Dame and fourth-seeded Virginia.
RANKED BEARS: Baylor currently has three singles competitors ranked in the latest ITA rankings including No. 3 Julian Lenz, No. 14 Patrick Pradella and 31st-ranked Diego Galeano. The duo of Zsiga and Pradella is ranked No. 21 in the country.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
SCOUTING Illinois: Illinois (24-8) is making its 13th trip to the NCAA final site and seventh in nine years for current head coach Brad Dancer, who took over the team in the 2005-06 season. The Illini shutout first round opponent Ball State 4-0, before coming back from a 3-0 deficit to top No. 22 Memphis, 4-3. Illinois is 6-6 all-time in the Round of 16.
SERIES HISTORY: The Bears and Illini are currently tied 4-4 in the all-time series between the two teams. The last meeting came earlier this season when the BU recorded a 4-0 sweep of Illinois in Indian Wells, Calif. as part of the Oracle Collegiate Cup. Baylor last met Illinois in postseason play in 2007 when the Illini topped Baylor 4-3 in the semifinals.
QUOTES - HEAD COACH Matt Knoll
On competing in the Round of 16...
"We feel great, we couldn't feel better. I think we are right were we need to be. We got through the first two rounds pretty clean and we are really pumped up to play."
"We played them earlier this year so we know a lot about them. We know that they have a great team and are very well coached. They will be super well prepared and it will be a big challenge for us. they didn't play with their number one guy and that made a big difference the first time we played them. We feel like they have got a lot of good players and it will be a different dynamic."
On the team's experience in the NCAA Championships...
"It is huge, you can't over state it. This is the show for us. For the guys who come in with all of those teams there with the crowd and the atmosphere, to have been there is really going to make a difference. I think the biggest thing is the expectation of the players. The guys you recruit and the guys you bring in all expect to be here now. It is not unusual for them. This is part of the program and this is what the expectation is and I think that makes a big difference."
Live results, a live blog and a live video stream will be available for the matches through links on BaylorBears.com.
Baylor University is home to the 2015 NCAA Tennis Championships. The final 16 men's and women's teams will descend on Waco in May 2015 for the event. Following the team competition, individual singles and doubles championships will also take place at the Hurd Tennis Center.
To stay current on all things Baylor Men's Tennis, follow the team on Twitter: @BaylorMTennis