For the first time in three years, the Oklahoma State men’s tennis team is unranked heading to a dual weekend.
OSU (4-3) will travel to Evanston, Illinois to take on Northwestern (2-4) on Thursday at 5 p.m. The team will complete the trip with another match at Wisconsin (2-0) at noon on Saturday.
The Cowboys' losses last weekend to Ole Miss and Wake Forest not only extended their losing streak to three, but also ended their run of 53 consecutive weeks ranked in the top 25, dating back to the 2016 preseason rankings.
Coach Jay Udwadia dismissed the importance of early season rankings.
“I don’t really look at (the rankings),” Udwadia said. “It’s in my face because (my Sports Information Director) does a good job promoting our ranking and things like that. It is going to change crazy. Up until probably April, I don’t really focus on the ranking. I just do that to see the potential of us hosting (the postseason) and nothing else.”
With Minnesota climbing in the top 25 at the expense of OSU, the Big 12 and Big 10 conferences each have four ranked teams in the latest release. Wisconsin finished sixth in the conference last season, while Northwestern narrowly lost 4-2 against the Cowboys when they met in Stillwater last year.
Udwadia said a couple road victories against potential spoilers are useful for his team's goal of hosting the postseason matches.
“(Northwestern and Wisconsin) are going to win a lot of matches in their conference,” Udwadia said. “We are going to play two really good teams. Good teams will do well in the conference. If we can get a couple wins there, it will help us because their rankings should be really high by the end of the season.”
Doubles have been OSU's early-season problem. The Cowboys dropped each of their last five doubles points and won only three out of 13 doubles matches during that stretch. To compare, last season OSU did not drop its fifth doubles points until April 13 against Texas, its 24th dual of the season.
Udwadia said every player has to be patient to get out of the doubles slump.
“It is just some silly mistakes,” Udwadia said. “We are not hitting the panic button. It’s early on the season and you can’t beat yourself up too much. Otherwise, you are going to think about the past. I know we have a good team and we’ll eventually get the doubles going.”
Udwadia has fielded nine pairings out of OSU’s 21 doubles matches this season. He said the tenth tandem is on the card.
“You could,” Udwadia said. “There could be possible options.”