By Cody Soto
No. 6 Baylor men’s tennis started out the 2015 spring season with a disappointing 4-3 loss to No. 11 Illinois at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center on Wednesday afternoon. The Bears dropped their final three singles matches after posting a 3-1 lead early in the meet.
“I thought our guys fought hard, it just didn’t go our way,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “We are preparing for the future. You play to win, but this will help us and make a better team. We were up 3-1 and had our opportunities.”
Baylor started out hot as junior Julian Lenz and senior Diego Galeano took an easy 6-1 win on Court Two, but sophomore Vince Schneider and junior Felipe Rios dropped a 6-3 decision on Court Three to even up doubles play at one apiece. Seniors Mate Zsiga and Tony Lupieri topped No. 3 Ross Guignon and Tim Kopinski 6-4 in the final matchup on Court One to give Baylor the 1-0 lead.
Fifth-ranked Lenz took a 6-4, 6-4 win over Illinois’s Farris Gosea for the 2-0 Baylor lead, but a 6-4, 6-4 loss by No. 121 Rios on Court Six gave the Fighting Illini their first point of the match. Galeano defeated No. 62 Aron Hiltzik 6-3, 7-5 on Court Three, but Illinois’s Jared Hiltzik took a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) win over Lupieri to even up singles play.
Baylor and Illinois headed to a third and final set in the last two matches of the day, and sophomore Max Tchoutakian couldn’t hold off No. 40 Tim Kopinski to drop a 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (3-7), 6-3 match on Court Five to tie up the match at 3-3.
It was back and forth on Court One as Zsiga and No. 44 Aleks Vukic battled in a heated third set. The match ended on a sour note as Zsiga double faulted to give the Fighting Illini a 4-3 win in Waco.
The Bears (0-1) resume non-conference play at home on Saturday against Tulane. Match time is set for noon at the Hurd Tennis Center.