WACO (May 9, 2013) -- Friday, the Baylor men's tennis team makes its 16th straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. But this season, the Bears are led by two of their newest players.
And just like all rookies, Julian Lenz and Patrick Pradella figured it would take time before they seriously made an impact at Baylor
"I didn't play for one and a half years before I came here...I thought I would \be an average player," Pradella said.
"I wasn't sure what I have to expect from college tennis," added Lenz.
Instead, the Bears' newest players are stealing the show.
"We knew they were going to bring a talent level to our program, but that's not the same as playing high in the lineup," head coach Matt Knoll said. "I think that they've been able to adapt to this environment better than we expected."
Pradella just joined the team this semester but has held down the No. 1 singles spot for most of the season. Lenz, just a freshman, leads the team in wins with 26.
"I was expecting to do well, but I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to play," Lenz said.
Pradella and Lenz grew up in Germany, but didn't officially meet until coming to Baylor.
"I'd never really talked to him before, but I knew who he was because everybody knows everybody in Germany and Europe," Pradella said.
"We didn't know each other at all. We just knew each other's names," Lenz said.
Although the two never played against each other in Germany they've faced each other once in practice at Baylor.
"Yeah, it was, it was a beatdown," Pradella said.
"I was playing pretty well and he wasn't in shape like he was right now, so I had a much easier time than I would right now, I think," Lenz added.
Pradella may have lost, but the Bears' number one player is ready for a rematch.
"I'm going to beat him next year, for sure," Pradella said. "And I'm going to beat him this summer in Europe, for sure."
"If they played 10 times, one of them might win six, the other might win four and if we played another 10 times, it might flip around," Knoll said,
But for now, they'll be happy winning together and leading Baylor toward a national championship.
The Bears open tournament play Friday at 6 p.m. against Prairie View A&M at the Hurd Tennis Center in Waco.