TCU Men's Tennis Preview
Jan. 22, 2007
FORT WORTH, Texas - The 2007 TCU men's tennis team will look to capture another Mountain West Conference Championship and make their 17th consecutive and 22nd overall trip to the NCAA Tournament this season.
The men's squad loses five letterwinners that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and finished No. 31 in the nation last season, but will look to rebuild under the direction of new head coach Dave Borelli. Borelli spent the last four seasons with the TCU women's program, leading them to a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament last year.
"The first year is for me to put a stamp on the type of program I'm trying to create," said Borelli. "As far as the team goes, it's all related to personal improvement. I would like to be competitive in the conference and go after the conference championship."
The Frogs, who garnered a No. 36 preseason ranking, face a tough road ahead, as six of their opponents are currently ranked in the ITA preseason top-25.
"We have an extremely difficult schedule this year, but I think that will help us get better and better," Borelli said. "I have a lot of confidence and the team has a lot of confidence in what we can do, and it will be a good year and we'll have a lot of fun."
The squad possesses great leadership, with senior captains Radu Barbu and Andrew Ulrich, along with Chris Biro, a graduate student from Arizona State, who earned three varsity letters with the Sun Devils.
"Radu is a quiet leader, who is very mature and has a great attitude. He's one of the key guys returning that we needed in regards to character. Traditionally, he gets better as the season progresses, and I think down the stretch he'll be one of our better players."
Ulrich has been a mainstay on the Frogs' roster since the 2003-04 season, and got off on the right foot at the Rice Indoor Invitational last weekend, advancing to the Singles B Flight round of 16 after knocking off Jon Greenberg of Rice.
"Andrew also has great character and great work ethic. His strength is his speed, and we've been trying to get him to use that as an asset. He can get to more balls and doesn't have to rush himself to win points quickly because he's faster than most kids. I think he'll do very well for us this season."
Biro joined the Purple and White in the fall, where he advanced to the round of 32 at the Wilson/ITA South Central Regional, and moved on to the quarterfinals with Kriegler Brink at the Baylor HEB Intercollegiate. Biro led the Arizona State squad with 18 wins in 2004-05.
"Chris is very mature. He's a great competitor and he understands the game well. He's very easy to work with in practice and is really low maintenance. He's a great kid, and we're lucky to have him for a year. When things get crucial, its good to have a guy like him around."
Cosmin Cotet and Kriegler Brink both return for the Frogs after joining the squad last spring. Both Cotet and Brink had impressive fall seasons, as Cotet recorded a singles mark of 8-6, while Brink notched a record of 6-3. Brink and Cotet were also named TCU Athletes of the Week in the fall.
"Cosmin has been a great improvement this year, particularly with his emotions. He wants to win so badly and tries so hard, and he's starting to understand that you can't win every point. He has a big serve and has a lot of upside to his game."
Kriegler has also been a big improvement over the past year. It's been easy for me to coach him because his style of play, where he comes to the net a lot. That's the style of game I grew up with and played with in that era, so it's been easier to work on aspects of his game. Jeff (Kutac) and I have really focused on him attacking more, and he's made a big improvement and will have a great year."
Stuart Row, a junior transfer from Trinity University, joined the Frogs before the fall season, while freshman Mike Donovan was a late fall addition. Row highlighted play for TCU at the Baylor HEB Intercollegiate, where he advanced to the singles quarterfinals. Row also moved ahead to the doubles consolation final last weekend at the Rice Indoor Invitational.
"Stuart has a lot of potential and upside. He's young tennis-wise, but he's a quick learner, he wants it badly, and the last six weeks of the fall he really understood how to play a tennis match. He has really come a long way, and I'm very pleased with him."
Mike has a wonderful attitude and is a great athlete. He has a warrior mentality and has been a big plus for the team."
Jack Seider and Caleb Bulls are the newest additions to the Horned Frog roster. In his first action with TCU this past weekend at the Rice Indoor Invitational, Bulls recorded a singles win and also teamed up with Row to advance to the doubles consolation final.
"Caleb is a tough lefty fighter with great work ethic who was ranked as a top junior in Texas."
Jack is the kind of guy that's only going to get better, and we're very fortunate to have him. He's a good doubles player with a big serve and he has a lot of upside. He's the kind of guy that will make our program by his improvement."
These are all great kids. They did well academically, they listen and work hard, and I'm very excited about this season."
The Frogs will open their dual meet schedule on Wednesday when they host Texas-Pan American at 12 p.m. at the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center.