TCU enters the NCAA men’s tennis semifinals as one of the historical powerhouses in a sport.
Save for Virginia, the Horned Frogs competes in the 2015 Final Four on Monday as one of the elder statesmen of the bunch.
The Frogs have made 26 appearances in the NCAA Championship, dating to 1977, and holds a 24-25 overall record in games spanning from the round of 16 to the Final Four.
Baylor has made 17 appearances, followed by Virginia with 16 and Oklahoma with 10.
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TCU is making its fourth appearance all time in the Final Four, the first since 2001.
Back then, a 23-3 TCU squad with senior David Roditi leading the way pushed into the Final Four only to lose to UCLA 4-2 at the University of Georgia.
Now Roditi has brought TCU back into national relevance a year after missing the tournament completely.
Roditi has come to realize the journey to the Final Four is a lot more difficult than it appeared when he was a player at TCU , finishing no worse than the round of 16 in his four years.
“We appreciate it a lot more,” Roditi said of his current team.
Teams now have more depth and even unranked teams can present a challenge to the nation’s best, Roditi said, citing TCU’s narrow 4-3 win over Middle Tennessee State this year.
Roditi isn’t the only coach on the courts Monday to have played and coached in an NCAA Final Four.
Oklahoma coach John Roddick, brother of tennis pro Andy Roddick, played for Georgia in the 1998 Final Four, losing to Stanford 4-0.
“It’s fun. I’m happy for John,” Roditi said. “I think he’s done an unbelievable job at Oklahoma. It’s a program that really didn’t have a lot of tennis history before he got there and he has done an unbelievable job.”
The Sooners lost in the NCAA finals last season 4-2 against USC, marking the program’s first runner-up finish.
This year, Oklahoma entered the tournament as the top seed and it has handled TCU the past two years, beating the Horned Frogs 4-1 in Norman in the programs’ only meeting this year.
“We’re, I guess, underdogs, but we’re pretty confident,” TCU senior Nick Chappell said. “We’ve been right there with them the last two years and earlier this year, so we think this is our time. We’ve improved a lot as the season’s gone on, so it’s a different team. They’re going to fight a different team than they fought last time.”
Some of TCU’s biggest improvement has come from its standout freshmen, who struggled in the Horned Frogs’ Elite Eight win over North Carolina on Saturday.
Roditi said it was a learning experience, and he believes they will be back with a new focus on Monday.
“I would think that was sort of the day for them to experience that little bit of pressure. I think they will be a little bit more prepared for this one now,” he said.
Inclement weather has been a nagging issue for the NCAA Championship all week and with more rain in the forecast Monday, there could be alterations to the schedule, including moving the match indoors and changing the time.
“I’m hoping that we’re playing around 12 or 1,” Roditi said. “Indoor or outdoor I think we’ll have a great crowd.”
NCAA Tennis Final Four
No. 5 TCU vs. No. 1 Oklahoma
1 p.m. Monday at Baylor’s Hurd Tennis Center