No. 6 Baylor women’s tennis tops No. 25 Tulsa, Incarnate Word

By Cody Soto
Sports Writer

No. 6 Baylor women’s tennis finished off its weekend with another doubleheader, this time taking down No. 25 Tulsa 4-0 and in-state team Incarnate Word 7-0 at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center on Sunday.

“It was a great opportunity to play a lot of tennis,” head coach Joey Scrivano said. “Our underclassmen, most importantly, got a lot of practice and go to work on areas of the game that they needed to. It was very successful not only on the scoreboard but also from a development standpoint.”

The Lady Bears were challenged in two out of the three doubles matches, but senior Ema Burgic and sophomore Blair Shankle started things out with a lopsided 6-1 win on court one to give Baylor the early advantage.

Both Baylor teams saw deficits during the match, but juniors Kiah Generette and Rachael James-Baker fought back and forced Tulsa to make errors for the critical 7-5 win on court three for the 1-0 lead heading into singles play.

“Anytime you play a top 25 team, they’re going to present challenges for you,” Scrivano said. “Our girls handled it very well. I’m really proud how they focused. After playing so much tennis, it’s a drain emotionally as well as physically. They did well all weekend.”

Only two out of six players won the first game of the match, but that didn’t stop any of them from storming back. After a sloppy first game, Burgic forced Ksenia Laskutova into uncomfortable situations and continued to do so in the second set as she took a 6-1, 6-2 win on court one.

Shankle also dropped her opening game but didn’t seem to have too much trouble after that. The sophomore ran over Yelena Nemchen 6-0, 6-1 to push Baylor’s lead to 3-0. Generette fought off a late run by Tulsa’s Rongrong Leenabanchong late in the second set as she delivered the match-winning point with a 6-2, 6-3 win on court three.

Before the match was called, Baylor trailed on courts four and five while freshman Theresa Van Zyl was in an ultimate tiebreaker after dropping her second set. The Lady Bears were quickly able to move on to in-state opponent Incarnate Word on Sunday night.

The Lady Bears took some time to take down the Cardinals, but Burgic and sophomore Kely Putri teamed up for the 6-1 win at the No. 1 spot. Quickly after that, Generette and James-Baker took a 6-3 win on court two, followed by Van Zyl and Anderson with the 6-3 win and a complete sweep in doubles play.

The rest of the night went in Baylor’s favor. The Lady Bears would garner 72 set wins opposed to Incarnate Word’s eight sets in the next hour as Baylor continued its home dominance.

No. 73 Anderson finished singles play first and defeated Sarah Savedra 6-1, 6-1 for the 2-0 lead in the match. Generette ran past Matea Batchinsky in a dominant fashion for the 6-0, 6-0 victory on court two. Generette has not dropped a match since the start of the season, winning six of six since Jan. 18.

Burgic also delivered a hard hit as she blew past Rachel Sadiq 6-0, 6-0 as Baylor continued to dominate the boards at home. The lone senior provided stability for this young team, especially at the No. 1 singles spot on Sunday. Burgic sat out during the team’s two matches on Friday, allowing several other teammates to enter the lineup.

“She is our team captain; anytime she in the lineup, it’s just a calming effect on everybody,” Scrivano said. “We feel really confident when she’s in there. It was also good that we were able to rest her and let others play (on Friday).”

The Lady Bears finished off the night with three more wins, one each from freshman Leolia JeanJean, Van Zyl and Putri. Since the team’s 6-1 win over then-No. 5 Virginia on Jan. 24, Baylor has outscored its opponents 25-0 with four sweeps in the past two days.

The Lady Bears host another doubleheader as they play Maryland and Prairie View A&M on Sunday at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center. Match times are set for 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.