By Jeffrey Swindoll
The celebrations and Gatorade showers were in full force Wednesday night at Hurd Tennis Center. Baylor men’s tennis clinched the school’s 55th conference Big 12 title across all sports with a 5-2 win over the Texas Longhorns.
“A game against Texas is always special,” Baylor No. 3 Diego Galeano said. “Even more if you have a Big 12 title on the line. Playing Texas is the best match of the year. These are the kind of matches we want to win, and this is kind of trophy of we wanted to win. So it’s a big day for us.”
The Bears got the start they wanted with a commanding 3-0 sweep of doubles competition before beginning the singles matches. Those victories set the tone for Baylor, giving the Bears the 1-0 lead to start off singles.
“The doubles play is really important,” Baylor No. 4 Mate Zsiga said. “It’s a huge difference to win three singles instead of four. We gained a lot of confidence because of that.”
Baylor No. 2 Julian Lenz dominated his first set over No. 38 in the country Lloyd Glasspool 6-1. Lenz was not the only one to start off crushing his opponent in the first set.
All across the courts, the Bears won all their first sets except Baylor No. 1 Patrick Pradella, although even came so close to locking down the first set.
Pradella broke No. 19 in the country Hess-Olesen twice but let him back into the match after both breaks.
Pradella led 5-3 and Hess-Olesen stormed back to take the first set 7-6 with a 7-3 tie-breaker to stun Pradella.
Pradella went up 3-0 in the second set, but Hess-Olesen then went on to claim 6 straight games to win the set 6-3 and the match.
Though Pradella fell, the rest of the Bears took care of business to clinch the Big 12 title before his match ended.
After Lenz took his second set, Baylor went up 2-0, only two more wins to knot up the win on the day.
Following right behind Lenz, Baylor No. 6 Michael Dornbusch won his match (6-3, 6-4), making it 3-0. It was only a matter of time before the postgame partying began for Baylor.
Zsiga had an emotional two sets against UT No. 4 George Goldhoff, but the emotion and fight would have a sweet-tasting payoff.
Zsiga had to come back in both sets after getting broken by Goldhoff twice.
Zsiga would have the last laugh though. After breaking Goldhoff twice in the second set, Zsiga served for the match, up 5-3.
It was match point at 40-30 and Zsiga knew exactly what he wanted to do to end the night — ace Goldhoff with a serve right on the ‘T’. Zsiga did just that.
His first serve blazed past Goldhoff who stood flat-footed as he watched it pass by.
The vocal home crowd erupted, Zsiga dropped his racket to the floor and turned to the fans with his arms spread out.
The Big 12 title found its way to Waco for Baylor tennis yet again.
“It was just a great night,” Baylor head coach Matt Knoll said. “It was a blast to be out here in front of a big crowd playing your rival with something on the line. It’s a day that you circle on your calendar every year and to have it come off this way and to have the success we had is really special.”
The Bears now have a couple days off in preparation for the Big 12 Tournament in Fort Worth next weekend.