By Cody Soto
No. 2 Baylor men’s tennis may not re enter conference play until later this week, but it didn’t stop the team from decimating Seminole State College. The Bears defeated the Trojans 7-0 on Tuesday evening at the Hurd Tennis Center for their 10th straight win at home.
The Bears didn’t look to have any trouble on courts two and three in doubles play. Although Seminole State is ranked No. 7 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Junior College Rankings, the Trojans had a tough time breaking the momentum on the other side of the net.
“I thought the guys responded well; it’s what we needed,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “We played our full lineup, and the guys did great. (Seminole State) is very top heavy on their lineup. The guys at the top are high end recruits.”
Junior Felipe Rios and sophomore Vince Schneider blanked Kennan Dishman and Nick Bell 6-0 on court three, and junior Julian Lenz and senior Diego Galeano clinched the doubles point with a dominant 6-1 win on court two. As easy as those two victories were, the battle on court one was a different story.
“They came out hitting the ball really hard which was surprising a little bit,” senior Mate Zsiga said. “They barely missed first serves, but after we got into it we got into a hold where we got back into it. We increased the energy level a little bit, and after that we closed it out. It was another match, but we had to wake up and do it.”
Zsiga and senior Tony Lupieri struggled against a physically sound and powerful Seminole State team, especially at the net. Zsiga powered past the Trojans with his big serves to tie up the game at 4-4, and he helped send the duo to a tiebreaker at 6-6. After climbing back from a 4-1 deficit, the tiebreaker was entirely in Baylor’s favor. Lupieri and Zsiga held their own for the 7-6 (7-2) win for the doubles sweep.
Baylor quickly exerted its superiority in singles action. The Bears collectively only dropped two games in six first-set matches, and Seminole State was unable to catch up.
No. 117 Zsiga earned a spot in program history as he blanked Nick Bell 6-0, 6-0 on court five to win his 100th career singles victory for Baylor. He is the ninth player in Baylor tennis history to accomplish the feat.
Win No. 100 is nice, but the Szeged, Hungary, senior won’t stop there. There’s a lot more matches to improve, he said.
“It’s a pleasure to become a part of the best players in Baylor history,” Zsiga said. “Before the beginning of the season, I had this goal to reach 100 wins, and now I have it. If I can pass the next guy, that would be great, but the goal is always the same. I want to win every match. It was good for personal motivation.”
Moments later, Rios downed Kennan Dishman 6-0, 6-1 at the No. 6 spot, and Galeano clinched the match with a 6-1, 6-0 win on court four. The singles dominance didn’t stop there though.
The newly No. 1-ranked Lenz kept control at the top of the lineup. Although Seminole State’s Guy Iradukunda had a big doubles game, the Nyamugari, Burundi native had trouble keeping up with Lenz. The Baylor Bear walked away with a 6-0, 6-2 to push the lead to 5-0.
No. 61 sophomore Max Tchoutakian forced Alex Clerihew to make too many errors, and he used his strong presence to power past Clerihew 6-1, 6-0 at the No. 3 spot. Lupieri wrapped things up on court two with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Ismael Mzai.
“This was a good way to get us ready for Friday,” Zsiga said. “We had a few days off during Easter, so it was good to jump back and see where we are right now. I’m really excited for the rest of the week.”
The Bears will host No. 1 Oklahoma at 6 p.m. on Friday night at the Hurd Tennis Center. Follow @BUCodySoto for live updates at the top two matchup.