Oklahoma State men and women tennis teams will host NCAA 1st and 2nd round action this weekend. It is a chance to get both teams back to the NCAA Tennis Tournament, this year back in Georgia. For the men a chance to earn a special meal or two at a favorite restaurant.
With final exams wrapping up this week Oklahoma State men's head tennis coach Jay Udwadia is getting his team together whenever he can to keep them sharp as Friday at 1 p.m. the Cowboys will open up NCAA Championship play at home when they host UMKC at the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center. Prior to the Cowboys first match, Illinois, who is in Stillwater and was working out on Tuesday afternoon at the same time as the Cowboys will take on Drake. The two winners will meet on Saturday at 3 p.m. and that winner advances to Athens, Georgia and the "Sweet 16" of the NCAA Championships hosted by the University of Georgia. More on that angle in a paragraph or two.
The Cowboys begin postseason straight off final exams and carry their 21-5 record after losing to sixth-seed Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament. Hopefully, that is a hiccup for a team that has been steady all season on and off the courts.
"I think these guys are really finishing off well academically, we have a responsible group and I think they are managing their time well," Udwadia said. "This part of the season is incredible and if you can't get up for it then you don't have a pulse. This is kind of the dessert part of the season."
Udwadia later corrected himself and said it is actually main course that he uses to motivate his team. I'm sure all over the campus there are coeds trying to get the attention of their male counterparts and vice versa. There is an old adage that the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I don't know if that applies to tennis players, but Udwadia admitted that he dabbled with that a couple of years ago when his team was in Georgia for the NCAA. A native of Pune, India, senior Arjun Kadhe, who is set to become the program's first four-time All-American, was playing in the doubles at the NCAA in 2015 and Udwadia asked him and his teammates if they would like to try something other than pasta and salad for dinner. The coach took them to Taste of India, an Indian cuisine restaurant in Athens, Ga. It went over well.
"Jay said you want to try some different food and we said for sure," remembered Kadhe, who has set the all-time Oklahoma State record for doubles wins in a season with 35. He has 72 singles wins in his career and 102 doubles wins in his career. "Really liked it and it was a funny story from there."
So, when he eats Indian food, what are his favorite dishes?
"I like the spiciest things," Kadhe said. Is he a curry guy? "I like everything and especially in America. I can get by with about anything, but I like the Chicken Tiki Masala and the Tandoori."
Is there a difference between Indian cuisine in America and back at home for him?
"I think they level out the spices. They say keep it all mild and say it is level 10, where in India if you had level 10 it would be a bad thing for all of us," Kadhe said in a pretty serious way.
Really spicey! Let's hope the Cowboys keep it spicey on the court against UMKC, a team they beat earlier this season 7-0 and then against that Illinois and Drake winner on Saturday. Get that done and then a Taste of India is in all of their futures.