Forgive coach John Roddick’s Sooners if they’re looking at Friday's 4 p.m. dual against WAC champion New Mexico State as something of a walkover.
Oklahoma, No. 1 in the ITA men’s tennis rankings, playing host a sixth straight year to an NCAA regional tournament, will take the court Friday fresh off a Big 12 regular season and tournament championship, meeting the Aggies at Headington Family Tennis Center.
The Sooners (24-2) are looking to claim the program’s first national championship after finishing national runners-up a year ago.
Since that time, OU has won an ITA national indoor championship, claimed 18 dual victories over ITA top-30 programs and nine dual victories over top-10 programs.
Additionally, though ranked No. 1, OU nonetheless appears to have become a better team recently, seemingly correcting a weakness at the Big 12 tournament.
Not entirely pleased with his squad’s ability to claim the doubles point when facing strong dual competition, Roddick reworked his trio of tandems, moving the team in his No. 2 slot — Andrew Harris and Alex Ghilea — to No. 1, while splitting his old No. 1 team — Axel Alvarez and Dane Webb — into the Nos. 2 and 3 slots, with Webb joining Spencer Papa at No. 2 and Alvarez joining forces with Jose Salazar at No. 3.
Only Webb and Papa swept Texas and Baylor at the Big 12 tourney but, more importantly, the Sooners claimed the doubles point in each dual.
Additionally, no program may have a one-two singles punch on par with the Sooners.
Alvarez, in the No. 1 slot, is 23-1 this season, undefeated in dual competition, ranked No. 1 on the ITA singles list and, last time out, supplanted then-No. 1, Baylor’s Julian Lenz in straight sets 6-1, 6-4. At No. 2, Harris is 17-4 on the season, an unbeaten 10-0 in the No. 2 slot and ranked No. 7 by the ITA.
Prior to today’s OU-NMSU dual, No. 28 Northwestern and No. 34 Harvard meet at 1 p.m. Friday’s winners meet at 1 p.m. Saturday. The winner of that dual moves on to the national round of 16, beginning Thursday at Baylor’s Hurd Tennis Center.
Trying to make program history, today marks the first of six duals OU must win consecutively to claim a national championship.
Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for OU students and youth’s 18 and under and for parties of 10 or more spectators.