Pictured: Ole Miss' Stefan Lindmark
Courtesy of Bobby Knight: Friday will be an action packed day of tennis with 4 matches taking place between teams in the top 20. 3 of those 4 matches are SEC duals and after a weekend that saw 6 matches finish with a 4-3 score I have a feeling we could be in store for a few more tight ones. The other feature match of the day will take place in Los Angeles as Pepperdine makes the short trip from Malibu to face USC. I also think that Kentucky should be on upset alert because I have a feeling that Baylor may surprise them. Below are my previews of each match and feel free to follow each at the provided links.
#7 Georgia at #9 Ole Miss – 3pm est/2pm cst – Ole Miss Live Blog and Live Scoring - Ole Miss comes in to this one after winning a pair of 4-3 thrillers over Auburn and Alabama while Georgia took care of business and knocked off Tennessee despite being down a couple of starters. These 2 met just 3 weeks ago in Seattle at the National Indoors with Georgia posting a 4-0 shutout but a rowdy Oxford crowd is going to make it a little tougher this time. Ole Miss’s Stefan Lindmark and Georgia’s Austin Smith are both riding 5 match winning streaks and could face each other at either 4 or 5. Georgia’s Nick Wood is going to miss this one with an ankle injury while KU Singh may return to the court after not playing for the last month. I expect to see several matches go the distance and I think this will be a much closer match than the first one but I think the outcome will still be the same. Prediction: Georgia 4-3
#10 Tennessee at #11 Mississippi State – 3pm est./2pm cst. – Live Scoring & UT Live Blog - Mississippi State is coming off a pair of tight wins over Auburn and Alabama while Tennessee rebounded from a loss to Georgia with a win over Georgia Tech. The matchup at #1 singles should be a battle because MSU’s Romain Bogaerts comes into this one with an 11-2 dual match record including 4 wins over ranked opponents while his opponent Mikelis Libietis comes in with an 11-1 dual match record including 5 wins over ranked opponents. I’ll give the slight edge to Bogaerts on his home courts. At the 2 spot MSU’s Malte Stropp comes in with an 11-1 record and will face Hunter Reese who is 6-2 on the year along with 7 DNFs though he was ahead in 6 of those. I’ll take Reese in 3. Tennessee’s Brandon Fickey brings an 11-1 record to the table at #3 singles where he’ll meet either James Chaudry or Jordan Angus. I’ll take Fickey in 2. I like State at 4 with either Chaudry or Angus to defeat Chaplin. I think the teams will split 5 and 6 which means the winner of the doubles point will be sitting in the driver’s seat. Prediction: Mississippi State 4-3
#5 Kentucky at #38 Baylor – 3:30pm est/2:30pm cst – Live Scoring, BU Live Blog, & Live Video - It will be tough to top last year’s match between these 2 that saw Baylor knock off Kentucky in Lexington 4-3 in a match where singles was played 1st due to overcast skies and after splitting singles it came down to the double point where Baylor won the clincher at #3 doubles 9-8. I look for Baylor to take 3 of the top 4 spots and also pick up the doubles point for an upset win. Prediction: Baylor 4-3
#15 Tulsa at #64 Oklahoma State – 4pm est/3pm cst – Oklahoma State comes into this one with a 6-4 record but has lost 2 straight while Tulsa comes in with a 6-5 record though is coming off a win at Michigan last week. Okie State is improved from a year ago but not enough to threaten Tulsa. Prediction: Tulsa 7-0
#29 Florida at #34 South Carolina – 5pm est – Live Scoring & Video – The Gators snapped a 4 match losing streak with a 4-3 win over Texas A&M last week while South Carolina is coming off an upset win over state rival Clemson. I look for Florida to make it 2 in a row with a routine win on the road. Prediction: Florida 6-1
#6 Oklahoma at #41 Louisville - 5pm est – Live Scoring - Louisville is coming off a 4-3 win over Indiana while OU looks to rebound from a 6-1 loss to #1 Virginia. Despite the loss the Sooners looked good at the top 3 spots coming away with 1 win and 2 losses in 3rd set super tiebreaks. I look for OU to take care of business and win this one going away. Prediction: Oklahoma 6-1
#12 Pepperdine at #3 USC – 6pm est/3pm pst – Live Scoring - Pepperdine is coming off a thrilling come from behind win over Michigan that saw the Waves rally from 3-2 deficit to avoid the upset while USC last played a little over a week ago before the Pacific Coast Doubles Championships. USC will have the decided edge at 5 and 6 with Eric Johnson and Max de Vroome expected to roll while the top 4 matchups have the potential to be tightly contested. Pepperdine’s Sebastian Fanselow will be favored at 1 over Ray Sarmiento while I give the edge at 2 and 3 to USC’s Emilio Gomez and Roberto Quiroz over Finn Tearney and Alex Sarkissian. USC’s Yannick Hanfmann is a perfect 8-0 on the young season but will face a tough obstacle in Pepperdine’s Francis Alcantara who has a 12-1 dual match record. While I think Pepperdine will keep it close I think USC’s experience will guide them through to a larger margin of victory than one might think. Prediction: USC 6-1
#19 Vanderbilt at #14 Texas A&M – 7pm est/6pm cst – Live Scoring & Video – Vandy comes into this one riding a 6 match winning streak while Texas A&M has dropped 5 of its last 7. Vandy’s Ryan Lipman is riding an 11 match winning streak and brings a 12-1 dual match record into his match at #1 singles against Texas A&M’s Junior Ore. I look for Lipman to win in straights. Texas A&M will have the advantage at 3 and 4 with Jeremy Efferding and Shane Vinsant favored over Marc van der Merwe and Jeff Offerdahl. Vandy’s Kris Yee is riding a 12 match winning streak and brings a 13-1 record into his match at 5 against Jackson Withrow. I look for Yee to extend that streak to 13 straight with a 3 set win. I like A&M at 6 and I think the match at 2 between Gonzales Austin and Harrison Adams will be a close one but Austin will pull it out in 3 sets. I also look for Texas A&M to take the doubles point. Prediction: Texas A&M 4-3
#30 Michigan at #21 Texas – 2pm est/1pm cst – Live Scoring - Texas is coming off a 5-2 win over Penn State on Thursday while Michigan lost a heartbreaker to Pepperdine on Wednesday after leading 3-2 and having a lead in both other matches.
I look for Michigan to take 2 of the top 3 but again they’ll have a hard time getting the elusive 4th point and will come up just short. Prediction: Texas 4-3
Check back tomorrow and I’ll preview the Sunday slate which is highlighted by 3 more SEC showdowns and a Baylor/UCLA dual in Waco.