By Phillip Ericksen
In a historic night for Baylor athletics, the men’s tennis team dominated SMU 7-0 for the grand opening of the Jim and Nell Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center in front of a record crowd.
“It’s really an amazing night for Baylor University and I’m thrilled that I have a chance to be a part of it,” said Head Coach Matt Knoll.
He also praised the technicalities of the facility, including the courts, lighting and seating.
“We wanted the courts to be a certain speed, and they hit it exactly right.”
An official dedication took place after the team quickly grabbed the doubles point. President Starr and his wife Alice also attended among a “who’s who Baylor tennis crowd,” according to Knoll.
“We’re grateful for the generosity of spirit that has guided you to make this possible,” Starr said of donors Jim and Nell Hawkins. “This is a great program, and now it will be even greater.”
The Hawkins themselves then hit ceremonial first serves in the facility, which overflowed with around 700 people Friday night.
Five of the six singles players won their matches in straight sets. Junior Robert “Woody” Verzaal won a three-set thriller over Eduardo Razzeto with a 12-10 tiebreak victory.
“The crowd was unbelievable. I had a great time,” said sophomore Mate Zsiga, who is ranked number 60 in the nation. “With the crowd and the opening ceremony and everything, I played really good against a guy I knew I could beat. It felt great.”
The other winners were junior Patrick Padrella (6-1, 6-0), sophomore Diego Galeano (6-2, 6-3), sophomore Tony Lupieri (6-4, 6-3) and sophomore Mark Krickovic (7-6 (5), 6-0), who is ranked number 50 in the nation.
“The whole team atmosphere was just great,” Krickovic said. “I started rolling in the second set and just felt more comfortable.”
The team, which is ranked 15th in the nation, will carry its momentum forward into a Feb. 3 matchup at Tulsa.