By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor women’s tennis fell 4-1 to former conference rival No. 7 Texas A&M Wednesday afternoon at Hurd Tennis Center on a windy, open sky day.
“The Aggies are tough,” Baylor head coach Joey Scrivano said. “They don’t really give you much to work with. They don’t beat themselves and when you play teams like that, it’s very difficult.”
Baylor (10-6) got off to a slow start on several courts, including No. 1 sophomore Kiah Generette. Generette dropped her first set 6-0 against No. 14 Cristina Stancu from Texas A&M.
Generette found hope in the set after getting a break early on, but Stancu came back, broke Generette’s serve and took the second set 6-4, winning the first match of the day for the Aggies.
Texas A&M’s Rutuja Bhosale and Stefania Hristov were quick to add to the Aggies’ tally after Stancu, putting Baylor down 3-0. BU had to win the remaining three matches already in progress.
Freshman Blair Shankle was the first player to get Baylor on the board, leaving senior Jordaan Sanford and junior Ema Burgic with the momentum to tie it up and force the doubles tiebreakers.
“Blair’s been absolutely phenomenal,” Scrivano said. “The reason she’s so good is her maturity level is through the roof. I’ve had seniors that don’t even come close to what she brings to the table as a freshman. So we’re just thrilled that she’s developing the right way. She’s got a very, very bright future.”
Burgic fell in the second set to Ines Deheza. With Deheza’s win, Texas A&M solidified the victory with the score at 4-1.
“Our team competes,” Scrivano said. “I’m really proud of the effort. I wish today was a little different, but at the same time we’ve got a lot of season left.”
Matchday was part of ESPN’s special partnership with the United States Tennis Association to host a pre-game event much like the popular “College Gameday” program done for marquee college football games around the country.
The “College Matchday” experience brings games, prizes, giveaways, food and music for all ages before the matches free of charge. Also, all the action is streamed online from every court on for every College Matchday on WatchESPN.
“College tennis is such an amazing and exciting competition, and College MatchDay is a way to shine a light on schools, teams, players and coaches,” said Virgil Christian, the USTA’s director of collegiate tennis. “We hope that College MatchDay can change the landscape of viewing college tennis both in person and at home.”
Exposure to local communities as well as worldwide access online for live streams gives college tennis a major boost in viewership and national credibility to the sport.
“It can only do positive,” Scrivano said. “There are a lot of programs out there that are struggling. Obviously, Baylor is one that’s thriving and the Aggies are as well, but there are a lot that need to get as much exposure as possible. We’ve just got to market the sport better.”
Since the start of the season, schools all over the country were selected to host College Matchday.
Coaches around the nation applaud the initiative taken by the USTA to vitalize college tennis.
“I think it’s a great idea to get more exposure for college tennis,” said Florida State men’s head coach Dwayne Hultquist.
Baylor faces West Virginia (3-10, 0-0) on Saturday and Iowa State (8-7, 0-2) on Monday to start Big 12 play.
Baylor was predicted to finish first in the Big 12 in the preseason polls.
“We’re excited to get a chance to take a day off tomorrow, and then kind of gear up again for West Virginia and Iowa State,” Scrivano said. “When you’re playing this type of schedule, it’s really difficult to take too much time off, and that was the balance of the last 10 matches.
Thankfully, now we have a chance to not worry about that, and we can rest some people now for the next couple weeks.”