WACO, Texas - The 2017-18 Purdue men's tennis team (3-4) will compete in its third dual at Baylor on Saturday; however, it is the team's first against the No. 12 ranked Bears (4-1). The Boilermakers first visited head coach Pawel Gajdzik's alma mater in January, where the team finished 0-2 at the 2018 ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Opening serve is scheduled for noon ET at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.
The Boilermakers are coming off their second 7-0 victory of the spring, last defeating Toledo at home Saturday. Prior to the sweep, Purdue fell 4-0 to No. 21 Florida State in the opening round of the ITA event hosted by Baylor and 4-3 to unranked UNLV in the consolation draw.
Saturday's match will be Athell Bennett and Gergely Madarasz's first dual as a ranked tandem, entering the contest at No. 36. Madarasz reached as high as No. 4 last season with former Boilermakers Ricky Medinilla. The Big Ten-Big 12 dual is also Mateo Julio's first as a Boilermaker. The freshman enrolled in classes in late January
Despite finishing a perfect 2-0 in the same ITA tournament as the Boilermakers, the Bears are coming off a loss for the first time this season. Baylor was bested 4-3 on Sunday by unranked Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.
However, the loss did not hinder the home team's individual rankings, first published this spring on Monday. The Bears boast four nationally ranked singles players in No. 24 Johannes Schretter, No. 64 Bjoern Petersen, No. 89 Sven Lah and No. 104 Will Little. Additionally, Little and Schretter are the No. 12 doubles tandem in the country, while Petersen and Jimmy Bendeck are No. 45.
From Coach Gajdzik
"It is important for our young guys to face quality teams early on in the season," Gajdzik said. "It will better prepare each of them for tough conference play.
"At first, it's easy to get caught up in the stigma of playing a highly ranked team, but that feeling goes away as you compete in more competitive matches. Everyone becomes more relaxed and it turns into business as usual.
"A young guy like Mateo [Julio] brings another dimension to the team, and he'll get better as the season progresses. So far, we really like what we see. If he reaches the level of play we think he is capable of, he could be a huge weapon for us. Again though, we need him to gain experience. Each outing is important for a variety of reasons."