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Cowboys begin conference play with Bedlam matchup

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Mathieu Scaglia during the doubles match as the Cowboys take on Ole Miss in the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center on February 1, 2019.

For the past four seasons, Bedlam served as the Oklahoma State men’s tennis team season finale.

This year, OSU faces its in-state rival to open conference play on Friday at Headington Family Tennis Center in Norman.

“It doesn’t change too much,” said head coach Jay Udwadia. “Every team in the Big 12, you have to get up for whether it’s OU or Baylor (as) they are all top-25 teams. We are just fortunate to have great tennis in Oklahoma. We have some really tough teams and I think it just make it fun to play that type of level. To have a match like that creates great excitement to both communities.”

Bedlam has been the battle of the streaks for both teams.

On April 11, 2009, the Cowboys defeated their rivals for the 20th consecutive match.

Since then, No. 17 Oklahoma (13-5) has won the last 10 Bedlam matches.

Last year, the No. 27 Cowboys came close to ending their losing streak, but failed to capitalize on their 3-0 lead. Udwadia said he wouldn’t let the previous shortcoming affect the team.

“Whatever team can win the key points and dealing with adversity,” Udwadia said. “I think we are battle-tested now. I don’t think it’s going to be nerve or something like that, it’s about what teams play better. Every year is different and what’s done in the past is in the past. Friday is just the day we just focus on. We don’t look too far ahead and we never look too far behind.”

It has been a tough season for OSU (13-6).

Injuries and inconsistency have dominated the Cowboys throughout their nonconference schedule. OSU slipped in and out of the top-25 many times. Sheduling didn’t do OSU any favors as it will start conference play with three away matches.  

Udwadia said he believes his players can achieve more than what they are doing now.

“It’s been an interesting year,” Udwadia said. “I think we are a damn good team. Do I think we have a team that can compete in the top-10 level, yeah I think we can beat teams like that. We have a great product. We lost some matches that maybe we shouldn’t have lost but I ask a lot of this group. We have one senior, we are sitting okay and it can only go better from here now”  

With Artur Dubinski and Mathieu Scaglia as the only upperclassmen of the roster, Udwadia is leading a young and inexperienced squad.

He described the Cowboys’ Big 12 competition as the toughest five matches of the season

Udwadia considers it as a challenge to the new recruits.

“I think it is one of the bigger reasons they choose to come to OSU just because of the conference,” Udwadia said. “We view the Big 12 season more of a celebration of the season. It’s more celebrating the tough competition. You want to play the best, you want to improve and you want to eventually to go on past the college tennis and try play pro then you have to embrace it.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com