1. The KillerFrogs

2020 Tennis Thread

Discussion in 'Scott & Wes Frog Fan Forum' started by Longfrog, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. #1 Longfrog, Jan 17, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2020
    The tennis season starts tomorrow in Tempe against #25 Arizona State. It feels very weird to enter a season without Alex Rybakov. He was nearly a guaranteed win at #2 singles for his first couple of years and at #1 his last two years. His absence leaves a big hole in the lineup, but I am really excited about this year's team which should be every bit as competitive as they have been in the past couple of years, but with a much different flavor.

    It still pains me that Alex and Norrie didn't get a title in their time at TCU. The undoing for those teams was depth. Even when healthy, we struggled to get wins at the bottom of the lineup, and any injury meant that we started a match in the hole 0-1 or 0-2. While we don't have an ace at the top this year, our depth is much better, and it is thanks to an awesome incoming group of freshman. The recruiting class was ranked #4 but I think they are pretty clearly the top class in the country. The others ranked above them had larger classes but a lower average rating. All three members of the incoming class, which includes two Czechs (Paroulek and Jirousek) and a Brit (Fearnley) can really play and notched very impressive wins in the fall season.

    If you go based on the most up-to-date UTR ratings, here's how our singles lineup will look:

    #1 Alastair Gray (Sr, edit: Jr)
    #2 Tadeas Paroulek (Fr)
    #3 Luc Fomba (So)
    #4 Jacob Fearnley (Fr)
    #5 Tomas Jirousek (Fr)
    #6 Bertus Kruger (Jr)

    That leaves our #6 singles player from last year, Sander Jong (So) on the bench. Sander had a rough start to last year but I thought really improved and held his own by the end. So I expect a pretty fluid lineup in the early part of the year and a lot of competition for playing time.
     
  2. The Big 12 is shaping up to be very interesting, and it should be a three-team race. UT is the defending national champion, but I don't think they are regarded as the preseason favorite. They lost all their depth from last season and will have to rely on a bunch of freshmen this year. Their recruiting class was ranked #1 in the country, but only one of their players (Woldeab) has a UTR that is comparable with our incoming guys, and one of our freshmen, Fearnley, beat Woldeab in Austin in November. What UT does have is the best 1/2 punch in the country in Sigsgaard and Ito. It's a formidable task to take even one of those matches, and if you lose the doubles point you can feel defeated before you've even begun. This year we face them in Austin, but it is the last regular season match of the year, so I am counting on our young team to make enough strides by April that they have a good shot.

    I think the clear favorite in the conference in Baylor. They were very tough last year, and actually won the Big 12 tournament by defeating eventual national champ UT in the finals. They return most of their team and have one very notable addition in Jenson Brooksby. Brooksby is the top-ranked incoming freshman and I would have to think the most decorated freshman to come to college in a long, long time. He qualified for the U.S. Open in September, won his first-round match against a former top-10 player in the world (convincing him to retire immediately afterward), and then had a player currently ranked in the top 20 down a set and in a tiebreaker before eventually losing. He said afterward that had he won the match, he would have turned pro immediately. His loss was Baylor's gain, and I think Brooksby is already probably the best college player right now.

    If the name sounds familiar, you may recall that Brooksby originally signed with Roditi to play at TCU, but he backed out of that commitment and signed with Baylor. I think there was a lot of speculation about the games that may have been played leading to the change. I know he grew up at a club that sent a player or two to UVA when the current Baylor coach was winning national titles for them. I listened to a podcast with Roditi where he made some vague allusions and still seemed a little upset about how it went down. He declined to get into specifics, saying he didn't want to give too much fodder to our fans for when Baylor plays us in Ft Worth later this year (hint, hint). But if we had signed Brooksby, Roditi indicated we probably would not have gotten the two Czechs. So that may have worked out best for us in the end. Brooksby suprised everyone by honoring his commitment to play at Baylor this year, and I can't imagine he sticks around another year.

    Oklahoma, Oklahome State, and Tech are always tough, but they shouldn't threaten for the conference title.
     
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  3. On a national level, I would say the favorites are Florida, USC, Baylor, and North Carolina, probably in that order. I think we are in the next tier with UT, Ohio State, Wake Forest, and A&M... I'm probably leaving someone out. As always, we have a rugged pre-conference schedule. In early February we get #17 Michigan, #10 UVA, and #4 UNC consecutively. That leads into national indoors, which should get us three more top-20 matchups, assuming we qualify (which we have failed to do a couple of times recently). That's a lot to put on a young team, but hopefully it hardens us for the conference schedule.
     
  4. Did that Baylor guy show up or go pro?

    thanks for the update, I’m less in the loop than in prior years
     
    Longfrog likes this.
  5. Double post
     
  6. Thanks, Longfrog. Keep posting. Wish we had a poster like you for every TCU sport.
     
    Longfrog likes this.
  7. No doubt. Could really use one for basketball.
     
  8. #8 Longfrog, Jan 17, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
    Yes, that's Brooksby from post above. He is enrolled, on campus, and I think I saw where he did a podcast with SicEm365. Here's a link to the pod with Roditi where he gets into it a bit. When asked for details, he kind of hems and haws, and of course there's the allusion to the "influences" around him. They have another episode with Boland (Baylor coach) from last month, so maybe there's more detail there but I haven't listened to it yet.

    I think the guy is going to absolutely steamroll the competition this year. He's already ranked in the top 300 in the world... that's about where Norrie was ranked for the first year after he turned pro. Brooksby won 3 ITF tournaments last year, beating a number of current college stars along the way. Here's a few of those results, with his opponent's final college ranking from last year:

    #7 Oliver Crawford W-6-2, 6-1
    #12 Aleksander Kovacevic W 6-4, 6-3
    #15 Axel Geller W 6-2, 6-3
    #31 Hady Habib W 6-3, 6-2

    He's not unbeatable, of course, and I'm sure the top guys can trouble him on the right day. But until he turns pro he is going to be a handful.
     
    jake102 likes this.
  9. TCU took care of business last weekend with a 5-2 win over Arizona State. There were some encouraging things: winning the doubles point, easy singles wins at #1 (Gray), #3 (Fomba), #4 (Fearnley) & #5 (Song). Concerns include the absence of Kruger in singles (I assume that's injury related, though he did play doubles so maybe he's getting close), the absence of Jirousek (he has not played for TCU at all yet and hasn't played any pro tournaments in Europe in a couple of months, so I would guess also injury?), and the two singles losses at #2 (Paroulek) and #6 (Roldan). Roldan won't play unless we have two players out, so not a huge concern. Paroulek was supposed to be our top recruit and a hardened semi-professional who could immediately step into a top-2 spot, but this is his second loss against middling competition. At the fall ITA tournament he lost to Soendergaard who is North Carolina's #4 singles player. Hopefully it's just an adjustment period. He did have some nice wins in pro tournaments in the fall.

    This weekend there are two qualifying matches for the National Indoor Tournament next month. The first should be a layup against Florida Atlantic, and the second (assuming we win) will be against the winner of Notre Dame and Arizona. They are both just outside the top 25. So we should be able to advance, but we have failed to do so twice as a top-10 team in recent years, so it's not a given. That really torpedoed the ranking of some good teams, so these matches are important.
     
    JogginFrog likes this.
  10. well, he doesn’t want to have to pay the money back.

    Also, scheiss Baylor.
     
  11. TCU Tennis on Facebook has been posting cool pictures of the program through Tut Bartzen’s tenure. Worth a look sometime.
     
    ftwfrog likes this.
  12. TCU Powers Past Arizona, 4-0
    Horned Frogs show tremendous mental toughness to overcome Arizona and advance to ITA Indoor Nationals next month.

     
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  13. Really nice win on Sunday against AZ. They finished last year just outside the top 25 and returned their top 5 players, so gotta believe they are poised for a pretty good year. The biggest plus from the weekend was the first appearance from freshman Tomas Jirousek, who won both his matches at #6 singles. I would expect him to move up a spot or two in the lineup as the season progresses. If not, he is going to win a lot of matches at #6. The other was continued solid play from Gray at #1. He took care of Arizona's #1 with ease. Coming in I thought our team was composed entirely of #2/#3 type players, and that the template for us would be winning a lot of matches at the bottom of the order. But if Gray can be a legit #1 that makes us a lot more imposing.

    With the wins we qualify for the indoor tournament in a few weeks. That should be a great measuring stick for a young team. But we have some challenging matches leading up to it, as well, starting next weekend at Michigan, which also qualified as 1 of 16 for the indoor tournament.
     
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  14. Do you have intel on the playing style of Paroulek, Fearnley and Jirousek? I noticed a comment from Roditi about Fearnley having a huge forehand but that's about all I've got. For whatever reason we don't list their heights on GoFrogs so impossible to kind of guess.

    Surprised Kruger isn't playing singles.
     
  15. I watched Fearnley play a couple of matches at fall nationals. That was my take - monster forehand, does not get cheated on any swings (to borrow a baseball phrase). He's not a big guy but plays a high-risk baseline game. Fun to watch. Hopefully some of our upcoming matches get better live stream options, because he's probably the first guy I would want to watch. I think I saw Paroulek play a set or so at that same tournament. I can't offer much, but both he and Jirousek play a lot on clay. So I would think a more conservative style, lots of topspin.

    The Kruger absence also surprises me. He faded toward the end of last year and I didn't find any activity for him over summer/fall. Maybe an injury but he may also just be out of the mix for now. He's a talented player but movement seemed to me his biggest weakness. Given the layoff, it may take him more time than most to get his conditioning back.
     
    jake102 likes this.
  16. Thanks. I used to be much more up to date but kind of fallen off past two years (kids). One error I notice above- Gray is just a junior, so he's back next year. The entire team is actually
     
  17. The Gray thing is interesting. He was always listed a year ahead... I know he was rostered as a junior last year and I'm pretty sure I saw him as a senior a few weeks back. But you're right, GoFrogs now has him as a junior and that matches with what I've heard a couple of times now from Roditi, which is that we don't lose anyone this year. Gray sat out his first year, but maybe they determined he gets it back. It's hard not to think ahead to the possibilities next year, especially if we can add one more high profile player, either as a recruit or transfer.
     
  18. Just stumbled across this, for anyone interested. Fearnley at Wimbledon Juniors last year. He loses the match but note the one comment. Fearnley is hatless (I repeat, hatless).

     
    JogginFrog likes this.
  19. He plays at a super-fast tempo. Guessing he won't be in many DNF matches this season.
     
  20. I watched about half of it and that was awful quality tennis from both players. Man I don't like grass matches
     

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