Fresh off a major win against Virginia, the three-time defending NCAA champions, Ole Miss men’s tennis will host Cornell University at 2 p.m. Friday and No. 9 Baylor at 11 a.m. Sunday. Both matches will be played at home. The Baylor match will feature free breakfast for fans before they settle in for their Super Bowl Sunday.
In what will be the first-ever matchup between Cornell and Ole Miss, the Rebels will try their hand at toppling a champion, this time a champion of the Ivy League. Cornell is a relatively new program to the stage of NCAA tennis, with last year’s Ivy League Title being its first NCAA Tournament win in program history.
Cornell got off to a hot start earlier in the week with a 6-1 home win over Wichita State. Coach Silviu Tanasoiu has been an important figure for the team during its successful run over the past few years, and his return for a seventh season at Cornell is a key factor for the Big Red.
Baylor, known for its squad of majority foreign players, is expected to provide the more challenging duel of the two matchups. The Bears enter the weekend ranked ninth in the nation after their 4-0 start, including a win against No. 22 Florida State. Individually, the accolades for Baylor are even more impressive.
Captained by Johannes Schretter, ranked 11th in the nation in singles, this Baylor team boasts a fair amount of star power. Not only do the Bears have astonishing individual talents, but the teamwork on display is remarkable. Schretter pairs with unranked Will Little to form the No. 2 doubles pair in the nation.
While Baylor’s rankings and statistics are impressive, its only other ranked individual is Bjoern Petersen, who slides in at No. 64 among NCAA Division I tennis players. On the flip side, Ole Miss has a stacked lineup when it comes to individual rankings. No. 14 Tim Sandkaulen, No. 32 Gustav Hansson, No. 69 Zvonimir Babic and No. 86 Filip Kraljevic all find themselves in the nation’s top 125.
The Rebels historically match up well with Baylor, winning four of seven previous contests, including the most recent 4-3 win in Waco two seasons ago. While Ole Miss is receiving some votes, it is not ranked in the top 25 as a team. Two more wins against a top-10 Baylor team and an up-and-coming Cornell squad would certainly be enough of a push for Ole Miss to get on the polls. And starting out the home portion of its schedule with a few good wins at the brand-new indoor tennis facilities would provide significant momentum to carry this Rebel team forward.