Men's Tennis preview: Big 12 Championship
WHAT: No. 11 Texas (16-7, 4-2 Big 12) begins postseason play this week at the 2007 Big 12 Men's Tennis Championship.
WHERE: Plaza Tennis Center, Kansas City, Mo.
WHEN: Friday, April 27-Sunday, April 29; Texas will begin Big 12 quarterfinal play on Friday at noon Central against the tournament's sixth seed, which has yet to be determined as of April 25.
LAST YEAR AT THE BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP: Texas, who shared the Big 12 regular season title with Baylor last season, won three consecutive matches to capture the Big 12 Championship at the Baylor Tennis Center in Waco.
The Longhorns defeated Oklahoma by a 4-0 count in the quarterfinals before knocking off Colorado by the same margin in the semifinals. Texas and tournament host Baylor squared off in the finals, where the Longhorns avenged a regular-season loss on those same courts, winning by a 4-1 count to take the Big 12 Championship.
The Big 12 tournament title was the first for coach Michael Center in his tenure at Texas and the Longhorns' third overall (1997, 1999, 2006).
ITA RANKINGS UPDATE: Texas freshman Dimitar Kutrovsky vaulted from No. 88 to No. 73 in this week's Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) singles rankings. UT junior Milan Mihailovic moved up to No. 110 in the singles rankings. Kutrovsky and freshman Josh Zavala hold a No. 30 doubles ranking.
ABOUT TEXAS: UT opened the 2007 season on Sunday, Jan. 21 with a 5-2 win at SMU. The Longhorns returned to action on Saturday, Jan. 27 when they suffered a 5-2 loss at Michigan. Texas scored a 4-3 victory over host Tulsa on Friday, Feb. 9 before defeating No. 25 California by the same margin on Feb. 10 in Tulsa.
Texas made its first appearance in three years at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships last month, posting one win and two losses. UT opened the event with a 4-0 loss to Virginia before defeating Boise State by a 4-1 count on Saturday, Feb. 17. Notre Dame handed Texas a 4-1 defeat on Sunday, Feb. 18.
UT opened the home portion of its schedule on Saturday, Feb. 24 when it handed Georgia Tech a 6-1 defeat at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center. Rice defeated Texas by a 4-3 count the next day.
The Longhorns returned to the courts on March 10 when they dealt Arkansas a 6-1 defeat at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center. Texas picked up a big win on March 10 when it dealt No. 16 Duke a 5-2 defeat in Austin.
UT began a two-match road swing when it defeated BYU, 5-2, on Monday, March 12 in Provo, Utah. Defending NCAA Champion Pepperdine defeated Texas by a 5-2 margin on Thursday, March 15 in Malibu, Calif. The Longhorns made a winning return to the Penick-Allison Tennis Center on March 18 when it defeated No. 2 Virginia, 4-3.
Texas ventured out of conference once again when it defeated New Mexico by a 4-3 count and Marquette by a 7-0 margin on March 24 at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center. UT began conference play on April 1 with a 4-3 victory over Texas Tech in Austin. The Longhorns knocked off 28th-ranked Texas A&M on April 6 in College Station, marking Texas' first win on the Aggies' home courts since 2003.
Texas held off 39th-ranked Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by a 5-2 count on Wednesday, April 11 at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center before resuming Big 12 play. UT suffered a 6-1 loss at Oklahoma State on Friday, April 13 before rebounding with a 6-1 win at Oklahoma to conclude the road swing on Sunday, April 15.
No. 4 Baylor handed Texas a 6-1 defeat on April 18 in Austin, and the Horns ended the regular season with a 5-2 victory over No. 67 Nebraska on April 22.
Junior Luis Diaz Barriga holds a 23-3 singles record and has won his last 17 singles matches. He became the first Longhorn to remain unbeaten through an entire conference schedule since 2003, when Pete Stroer completed the feat. Former Longhorn Roger Gubser posted a perfect 6-0 record in Big 12 play a season ago but did not play in all seven conference matches.