By Cody Soto
AUSTIN – The second-ranked Baylor Bears rolled over No. 10 Texas 4-1 at the Caswell Tennis Center in Austin on Wednesday afternoon. With the win, the Bears have won nine straight over the Longhorns in Austin, the last loss on April 22, 1999.
Head coach Matt Knoll remembered losing to Texas when the team traveled to Austin 16 years ago, and he didn’t want that to happen again.
“It was just another match in terms that we’ve got to get better and keep playing, but with that being said I remember the first time we came down here we played out the full seven points, and we didn’t even come close to winning a set,” Knoll said. “They beat us in about an hour and 15 minutes, and I’m still sore from that.”
The Baylor-Texas rivalry is still alive and well, but the Bears have dominated most recently with five straight wins over the Longhorns.
“It’s a big rivalry of ours in the league, close to home. It is special to play these guys,” Knoll said. “If [the conference] is handing out a Big 12 title, then we’d like to get it.”
The Bears (19-4, 3-1 Big 12) started the match out hot in doubles play. With senior Mate Zsiga not in the doubles lineup, junior Felipe Rios and sophomore Vince Schneider rolled over Texas’ Adrien Berkowicz and George Goldhoff 6-3 at the No. 2 spot to give Baylor an early advantage.
Sophomore Max Tchoutakian teamed up with senior Tony Lupieri at the No. 3 spot, and the duo jumped out to an early 3-1 lead. However, Texas’ Nick Naumann and Michael Riechmann took three straight games to lead 4-3 late in the set. Lupieri and Tchoutakian fired back and took the next three games to close out the doubles match, 6-4.
“Our guys have really matured,” Knoll said. “We know how to have relaxed intensity; we were a little nervous at the start of the match, but the dynamic as a team is really good right now.”
With singles play underway, the Bears and Longhorns played very tight opening sets on almost all courts. Texas earned its lone point of the match when Lupieri fell 6-1, 6-4 on court two to Lloyd Glasspool. Lupieri had broken a 4-0 deficit to come back and tie it up 4-4 in the second set before losing the match.
Quickly after that, Lenz finished off a top five matchup with No. 5 Soren Hess-Olesen with a powerful cross-court ace for a 6-4, 6-2 win at the top of the lineup. Despite the lopsided result in the second set, Lenz said he didn’t do anything different.
“I was struggling a little bit today, but it’s always good to get a win against a good player,” Lenz said. “Every Big 12 match is different. It was all about beating Texas. I haven’t lost in three years to Texas, so it’s special to beat them. It helps me get a lot of confidence, especially since we play a big match with Texas Tech on Saturday.”
Two points rolled in the final two points of the match within minutes of each other as matches wrapped up on courts four and six. While Zsiga was struggling in his second set on court five, Galeano rolled over Texas’ Goldhoff to win 6-4, 6-2 at the No. 4 spot to give Baylor a 3-1 lead over the Longhorns.
Minutes later, Rios clinched the match with an exciting 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 victory over Naumann at the bottom of the lineup. Rios played a tight match and pulled away in a first set tiebreaker, but the Vine Del Mar, Chile, native pulled away in set two to give Baylor the 4-1 win.
The Bears will now play for a share of the Big 12 title as the team faces No. 16 Texas Tech at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Lubbock. If the Bears win, it would be the third straight conference championship for Baylor.