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Sophomore Luc Fomba and teammates are swinging to bring the Big 12 title back to Fort Worth. Courtesy TCU/Gregg Ellman

TCU men’s basketball broke their quarantine on Thursday against No. 15 Kansas after more than two weeks of cootie jail and three game postponements due to a COVID spread within the West Virginia and TCU programs. Coach Jamie Dixon announced via Twitter that he tested positive and was beginning to self-isolate. Despite how insensitive this may sound, it couldn’t have been a better time for the Frogs to retreat from the hardwood. Their last game in mid-January, against now-24th-ranked Oklahoma, was a microcosm of mediocrity against a team TCU almost never beats but is usually within one or two possessions of at the final buzzer. A three-game losing streak wasn’t the worst time to be forced to step back and reevaluate before dribbling into the latter half of their season. Dixon and company competed much better on Thursday compared to before their hiatus. The win eluded them, but the box score was much more palatable with an eight-point loss.

 

Minimal basketball to recap presents a golden opportunity to meet this year’s iteration of the consistently dominant Horned Frog men’s tennis team led by alumni letterman, Coach David Roditi. The Racket Frogs are currently tied for sixth in the national pre-season rankings with conference rival and 2019 national champion, Texas. TCU, Baylor, and UT have represented the Texas triad in past years, with all three consistently ranked in the Top 10 and delving deep in the national tournament year after year. Baylor has slipped a bit in the preseason rankings at 15th but has already proven themselves underestimated by sweeping 4th-ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor 4-0 during the Intercollegiate Tennis Association kickoff last weekend. The Longhorns — like TCU — hosted a portion of the ITA weekend starting with a 4-1 victory over Liberty and a hard-fought squeaker over ninth-ranked Florida in which UT lost the doubles point but were able to overcome the Gators 4-2 in singles matches to claim the overall victory and keep their undefeated record. TCU’s weekend was admittedly less exciting as Roditi and company belted Denver 5-0 before bullying Oklahoma 4-0 to also stay unblemished on the season.

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This weekend features a “menage a tennis,” which should deliver answers to the possibility of TCU regaining the Big 12 men’s title. Texas will host Baylor on Saturday before Baylor hosts TCU on Sunday. Our Frogs won’t meet the Longhorns directly until the teams come together in early April at the beginning of dedicated conference play, but facing the Bears directly after they’ve volleyed with the burnt orange should provide a sneak peek of who the early conference frontrunner should be. Unfortunately, you won’t be allowed to catch any Frog tennis in person if the current attendance policy remains. Outdoor match attendance requires a pass that can be obtained only through a pre-approved list. What is usually a fun, family, and festival atmosphere at Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center has been modified to prevent community spread of the virus. Tennis itself is considered by the CDC to be one of the safest sports to play during the pandemic, but TCU is taking extra precautions to protect fans as well. Luckily, outdoor matches will be livestreamed through the PlaySight website, and the link can be found through the official men’s tennis page.

 

Roditi travels far and wide to find worthy competitors for his feature squad. You won’t find any local talent serving for the purple and white. In fact, there’s only one player even listed on their roster from the United States. Alastair Gray from England and the South African Bertus Kruger are the old men and should be very familiar to Fort Worth felt-heads. Kruger has always held his own and performed well near the fifth or sixth position on the singles ladder and oscillated between second and third line on doubles. Kruger has recently paired with Juan Martin — another junior — from Argentina at third-line doubles. Gray has evolved into the ace of the team — captain and most recently Big 12 player of the week — holding the top line in both singles and doubles where he’s paired with my personal man crush and second-line singles Frog: the 6-foot-6 Frenchman Luc Fomba. Gray is ranked 21st nationally in singles and Fomba 47th. Fomba’s length alone is intimidating, and the sophomore can hold serve with ease thanks to the sheer velocity he produces. The pair aren’t ranked as a doubles squad, but I expect that to change over the coming weeks. Middle twiddles at second-line doubles are sophomore Sander Jong from the Netherlands and freshman Tadeas Paroulek from the Czech Republic who are the 24th-ranked doubles pair nationally. Jong is also the 123rd-ranked singles player and occupies the third line. Finally, fourth on the singles ladder is another Czech freshman, Tomas Jirousek, who joined the team at the beginning of last year with Paroulek. Lineups change constantly in college Tennis, but you can consider the top three singles spots as locks for the remainder of this season with the possibility for changes near the bottom of the singles ladder. Keep an ear to the ground as these players progress toward the meat of their season. Men’s tennis and women’s rifle are the quiet kids who remain the most dominant athletes on campus.

 

 

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