By Cody Soto
Is the third time a charm? No. 2 Baylor men’s tennis is about to find out as it hosts top-ranked Oklahoma tonight at the Hurd Tennis Center for a high caliber Big 12 matchup.
The Bears (17-3, 1-0 Big 12) has the chance to snap a two-game losing streak to the Sooners this season. Both teams met each other in two different contests, one in Chicago, Ill., in February and in Indian Wells, Calif., last month.
“It’s going to be a blast,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “I’ve been here a long time and this is only going to be the second time we’ve ever had this situation. It’s a big day for the program and something that we’re very excited about. It’s going to bring out the best in us.”
Baylor dropped a tight 4-2 decision to Oklahoma in their first meeting, and the Bears lost 4-1 last month at the BNP Paribas Collegiate Challenge title match. This is a change for redemption.
“It’s hard to put into words to be honest,” senior Mate Zsiga said. “I can’t wait for it. It’s going to be an huge match. I feel like it’s going to come down to the edge.”
Not only are the top two teams facing off, but No. 1 junior Julian Lenz will face No. 2 Axel Alvarez Llamas in singles play as well.
“It’s going to be exciting for me to get this opportunity,” Lenz said. “I’ve already lost twice to him, so I can get a rematch, but right now all that really counts is if we win as a team. It’s all about the W for the team.”
The Oklahoma Sooners (20-1, 2-0 Big 12) enter tonight’s matchup with only one loss on the season, a tight 4-3 decision to Texas A&M on Feb. 20. The Sooners are coming off a nine-day break and plan on continuing their winning ways. It will be up to Baylor to take advantage of its home court to put that streak to an end.
“I think the margins are small when you go against the best teams like this,” Knoll said. “We have to focus. We have to have fight. We have to do the intangible things, and I think we’re going to have a chance.
“Having the chance to play in front of a big crowd here is going to be a special event for our guys and build a lot of enthusiasm and momentum going into the NCAA Championships.”
With only six men’s tennis teams in the Big 12 conference, every match counts. If the Bears want to win another conference title, then tonight is important in accomplishing that feat.
“We want to win the Big 12, and nationally it’s a big challenge for us as well,” Lenz said. “We are all looking forward to get the W this time.”
Baylor and Oklahoma meet at 6 p.m. today at the Hurd Tennis Center. The first 300 fans will receive free Baylor tennis tank top T-shirts.