By Cody Soto
No. 6 Baylor men’s tennis fought off gusty wind conditions and tough singles matchups to defeat No. 40 Drake 4-0 on Sunday afternoon.
“I am happy that we were able to come through with it and get on out the door,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “It was a great experience for us. It’s not the condition for perfect tennis, but that’s sports. You can’t always play in perfect conditions.”
With the win, the Bears (2-1) advance to the National Indoor Championships on Feb. 13-16 in Chicago, Ill. Baylor defeated both Tulane and Drake this weekend in order to compete in the national tournament.
In doubles play, senior Diego Galeano and junior Julian Lenz blanked Drake’s Ravi Patel and Matt Frost 6-0 to start out the afternoon at the Hurd Tennis Center. Junior Vince Schneider and sophomore Felipe Rios finished the job as the third seed to defeat their opponents 6-3, giving the doubles point to Baylor.
“Doubles was good today; overall, I think we have a good doubles team,” senior Tony Lupieri said. “We’ve been able to show that because we won against Illinois, Tulane and Drake. That’s a strong area for us.”
The singles competition was tough. With the wind altering some ball placements, serves and different strokes, almost every match went to three sets. Lenz was the only Bear to finish off his opponent in straight sets with a 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 46 Alen Salibasic to give Baylor the 2-0 lead.
The final two points came later as Rios fought back after having a poor first set to take the final two sets for a 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 win on Court Six. Rios was able to adjust to the playing conditions after losing the opening set, Knoll said.
“He was a little confused by the conditions [in set one],” Knoll said. “He was trying to play a little too well. When he settled in, he started to play pretty well. He was still pulling the trigger and being aggressive, but he waited for the right time.”
Lupieri cruised to a 6-2 win in his first set but blew a 3-1 lead in the second to fall 6-4. Lupieri was able to refocus and took set three 6-1 over No. 30 Ben Lott to give Baylor its final point.
“No matter what happens, [the guys] don’t want to lose the match,” Knoll said. “When the chips are down, they’re going to dig in and find a way to win, and they did that today.”
Galeano, sophomore Max Tchoutakian and freshman Juan Benitez were the other three Baylor players in singles play. Galeano was at set point in the second set while Benitez and Tchoutakian were in their third set before the match was called.
“It was tough for us [today],” Lupieri said. “After dropping their first sets, a lot of the guys bounced back up. It’s a good win for us.”
The Bears host Louisiana-Lafayette at 3 p.m. on Thursday at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.