By Cody Soto
No. 6 Baylor women’s tennis has not seen a lot of close matches recently, but the Lady Bears had to dig deep as they hosted No. 14 Clemson on Sunday afternoon.
Just like their season opener against then-No. 5 Georgia, Baylor had to power through adversity as it faced its first loss of the season. Despite a lot of pressure with a tie, freshman Theresa Van Zyl took a match-clinching 6-4, 7-5 win on court six to hand the Lady Bears a 4-3 win over the Tigers.
“Clemson is really good,” head coach Joey Scrivano said. “We knew they were going to be extremely tough, and they were. The win should give the girls a lot of confidence, and we’ll build from there.”
The match got off to a slow start for Baylor as it lost the doubles point for the second time this season, dropping matches on courts one and two. Clemson added another point on the board for an early 2-0 lead after No. 86-ranked junior Rachael James-Baker lost 6-4, 6-1 on court five.
“I’m a big believer that it’s all about getting four points any way you can do it, and I don’t want our team to rely on the doubles point,” Scrivano said. “It doesn’t mean that we want to put ourselves in these positions, but when we are in these positions we have to know that we can come back and win the match. We’ve done that twice.”
Baylor took wins on courts one and two as senior Ema Burgic and sophomore Blair Shankle took down their ranked opponents in two and freshman Kelley Anderson shook off a second set loss to win and push Baylor in front 3-2.
Clemson would ultimately knot things up after No. 119 Beatrice Gumulya defeated junior Kiah Generette 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4) on court three, tying the score at 3-3. The final match win for Van Zyl is the second time the team has relied on a freshman player to bring home the final point.
“Both sides, [Clemson player Yuilynn Maio] was playing very well,” Van Zyl said. “She didn’t give up a lot of errors, and I had to work for the point. I knew it was going to come down to me, so I just had to stay focused and keep playing.”
With the win, the Lady Bears (10-0) have jumped out to the most successful start under Scrivano and their best start since 2000 (12-0).
The 10-match winning streak gets put to the test as BU hits the road for four straight matches, first traveling to face No. 15 Michigan at 5 p.m on Friday afternoon.