Darned if it didn't happen by two points two years in a row.
Oklahoma State's men's tennis team, which clipped Kansas, 86-84, at last year's Big Eight championships, successfully defended its crown, nipping KU, 95-93, last weekend in Oklahoma City.
"Two years in a row, to come up one match short, it's tough for me," said KU coach Scott Perelman. "We've just gotta keep asking our kids for more. Do you realize if we beat Oklahoma State in one more match in either a dual match or at the tournament last year and this year, we'd be champions or co-champions four of the past five years? Instead, we won it in '87 and '88 and have come close the other years."
Perelman is hoping his club isn't finished this year.
THERE'S A chance the Jayhawks, ranked No. 13 in the country entering the Big Eight tourney, could snare an at-large berth to the NCAA meet. The selection date is May 8. Twenty teams are picked.
"If we won the tournament, we'd be ranked 13 or better and be in," Perelman said. "We'll now be ranked anywhere between 18 and 21. One team is selected from each region and 12 at-large teams. I'd say our chances are 50-50. We'll battle teams like Notre Dame, UC-Irvine, Fresno State, Miami and South Carolina."
Next year, the format for the Big Eight meet changes. Teams will be seeded and matched head-to-head, rather than throwing all the singles and doubles players into an individual competition.
Also, the tourney will be held in nearby Leawood the next two years.
"I like it," Perelman said. "We spend a lot of time trying to stress team concepts, then we go to the tournament and play an individual format. I like the excitement the dual match format provides. If we had it this year, as No. 3 seed, we'd have played No. 6 Iowa State. If we won, we'd played Oklahoma State in the semis for the right to go to the finals."
KU WOMEN'S coach Michael Center also likes the change.
"It's going to add a lot of excitement," he said. "If you move forward, you'll do it as a team. Individual champions will be recognized through the conference won-loss record. Then we'll play for the conference team championship."