By Cody Soto
No. 8 Baylor women’s tennis will play for a share of another Big 12 championship this weekend as it hosts No. 72 Kansas and unranked Kansas State at the Hurd Tennis Center.
The Bears (20-6, 6-1 Big 12) got back on the right track with a 4-0 shutout over Texas last Sunday. Prior to that, Baylor dropped its first conference match of 2015 with a 4-2 loss to No. 15 Texas Tech on April 4. It was then upset 4-3 by then-No. 10 Texas A&M at home a few days later.
It was a tough time for the Bears, but with two more matches remaining in the regular season, Baylor has the advantage with both matchups being at home. The reigning Big 12 champions are 13-2 at home this season, and they don’t plan on ending Big 12 play on a sour note.
Under head coach Joey Scrivano, the Bears have hoisted 10 Big 12 regular season trophies, and nine of those have come since 2005. Winning is a tradition for Baylor women’s tennis, and the Bears are fighting for a chance to win the conference title for the third straight year.
“I know our players are motivated to finish the regular season strong,” Scrivano said. “For us, it’s all about playing in the present, trusting the process and focusing on the things that we can control. When we do that we play very well and the result takes care of itself.”
Baylor opens the two-match weekend with a chance to defeat another ranked opponent, No. 72 Kansas. The Bears have yet to lose a match against the Jayhawks under Scrivano, the last loss on March 30, 2002. Since then, BU has taken 15 straight over Kansas.
The Jayhawks (8-12, 4-3 Big 12) is in the bottom half of the conference standings in sixth place, but Kansas has recorded wins over No. 39 Oklahoma and versus Kansas State, and the team is currently in a four-match road trip.
The Jayhawks do not have any ranked doubles or singles players in their lineup, but they could cause some trouble in the Big 12 standings if they defeat the eighth-ranked Bears.
Kansas State (8-14, 1-6 Big 12) has one conference win in 2015 and is sitting in ninth place coming into this weekend. The Wildcats have struggled over the course of the season and have only won two of their last 10 matches. However, Kansas boasts one ranked doubles team: No. 81 Palma Juhasz and Carolina Costamagna. The duo is 7-3 on the season but is 3-3 during conference play.
Baylor has only lost once against the Wildcats with Scrivano at the helm, dropping a 4-3 decision on March 18, 2011. Baylor will need to watch out for Kansas State though. The matchup on Sunday could also spoil another Big 12 title.
“Kansas is a team on the rise and their results are showing that,” Scrivano said. “Kansas State is a dangerous team with good talent. We are not taking either one of these teams lightly.”
No. 15 Texas Tech is sitting at the top of the standings right now with a one-game lead over the Bears going into this weekend. The Red Raiders (17-4, 7-1 Big 12) last lost to Texas 4-2 on March 22 in Austin, and since then have taken five straight wins in Big 12 play.
Texas Tech will have to lose against No. 19 TCU on Saturday if Baylor wants to dream about an outright title. The Horned Frogs (16-7, 6-2 Big 12) sit right behind Baylor and Texas Tech in the rankings, and they will have a chance to tie for second place with a win. That match will be played at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Fort Worth.
Baylor faces No. 72 Kansas at 5 p.m. today and hosts unranked Kansas State at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Hurd Tennis Center.