By Phillip Ericksen
The Baylor men’s tennis team lost to the No. 2 UCLA Bruins Sunday, ending its eight-match win streak. The final match count was 6-1.
“They beat us up pretty good,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “We’ve got a lot to learn. There are a lot of opportunities to grow from this and that’s the key. If we take it as learners and make improvements, than it’s been a fantastic day. It’s still March, we got a long way to go and this is a great chance for us to see where we stand.”
The Bears (10-2) clinched the doubles point after the team of sophomore Tony Lupieri and sophomore Mate Zsiga won 8-4. With Baylor up a break 4-3, Lupieri served and saved nine break points, winning the game when Zsiga hit a strong volley to extend the lead to 5-3.
However, the Bears’ singles play was a different story, and all six players lost their respective matches.
Freshman Julian Lenz, ranked 43rd, lost to No. 35 Dennis Novikov 4-6, 5-7 on Court 1. Lenz broke his opponent’s serve to take a 3-2 lead in the second set, but eventually lost the match on a double fault. This was the clincher for the Bruins, giving them their fourth point.
“We had a really bad start in singles,” Lenz said. “It was hard for us to bounce back and really handle the conditions well. I think we just have to look forward to the next match and try to learn out of it and try to handle the conditions better the next time. That’s the main thing. They were better than we could be today. They were just tougher.”
Zsiga, ranked 78th, lost his match 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-7 (2). After dominating the first set, he led the second 5-2 with a match point, but ultimately lost the match in heartbreaking fashion. He held a few match points in the third set as well.
Junior Patrick Pradella, ranked 122nd, lost 5-7, 2-6, sophomore Tony Lupieri lost 2-6, 5-7, sophomore Marko Krickovic, ranked 77th, lost 2-6, 2-6 and sophomore Diego Galeano lost 1-6, 1-6.
The Bears will face the top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers at 3 p.m. Monday at the Hurd Tennis Center.
“Like they say, you got to burn the tape sometimes,” Knoll said. “So we’ll burn the tape and pop up tomorrow and try to play better.”