By Phillip Ericksen
The Baylor men’s tennis team showed a valiant effort against the top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers Monday, but ultimately lost 6-1. The Bears (10-3) lost five of their six singles matches, and all losses were three-set thrillers.
“I thought we came out today and really came out swinging,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “We made a match out of it. Unfortunately we weren’t good enough to get a ‘W’, but we’re getting better.”
The Bears lost the doubles point after the team of junior Patrick Pradella and freshman Julian Lenz lost 5-8, and the team of sophomore Marko Krickovic and sophomore Diego Galeano lost 7-9.
In singles, Pradella took on the top-ranked player in the nation in Alex Domijan and lost 6-4, 3-6, 4-6. Ranked 122nd, Pradella broke Domijan’s serve in the third set to increase his lead to 3-1, but his opponent broke back and ultimately won the match.
Pradella views it as a learning experience.
“I think it was a good match,” Pradella said. “It was an unlucky end. I got a little bit tight in the end. I can win this match, and everybody was so close today and we really saw that we can be a really good team. We can go really, really far in the rest of the season.”
Lenz, ranked 43rd, lost to No. 3 Jarmere Jenkins 7-6 (2), 4-6, 3-6.
No. 77 Krickovic lost an emotional match 4-6, 6-4, 5-7, as well as No. 78 Mate Zsiga, who lost 6-4, 4-6, 2-6. Senior Roberto Maytin also lost 4-6, 6-2, 2-6.
The lone win came from sophomore Tony Lupieri, who beat No. 24 Ryan Shane 6-3, 6-2.
“I’m looking at it as an indication that we’ve improved,” Knoll said. “That’s really what it’s all about. We just want to get one day better every day, and if we keep doing that and keep improving as much as we have the last couple months, we’re excited to see how things go in May.”
The second week of May marks the start of the NCAA Tournament.
The Bears’ next match will be another tough test. They will take on the No. 9 Ole Miss Rebels at 1 p.m. Thursday in Oxford, Miss.
“We can take confidence for Mississippi,” Pradella said. “That’s another great opportunity to win a good match. If everybody works and tries to fight hard every point like today, then we can win this match.”