By Cody Soto
Winning never gets old, according to the eighth-ranked Baylor women’s tennis team.
The Bears were all smiles after capturing the team’s eighth Big 12 tournament title Sunday afternoon. Baylor blanked No. 16 Texas Tech 4-0 at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center to cap off a successful run in the conference championships.
“I’m just so thrilled for our upperclassman: Ema, Kiah, Blair. They’ve experienced this before, but they had to lead the way this year,” head coach Joey Scrivano said. “Our rookies were fantastic our entire regular season and now in this post-season tournament. I’m just so excited for them.”
Originally scheduled to be played at the Hurd Tennis Center, the match was moved indoors after lightning and rain delays prolonged the men’s title match on Sunday. It did not seem to affect any aspect of the Bears’ game though. The win avenged a rough 4-2 loss to the Red Raiders on April 4 in Lubbock, almost putting BU’s Big 12 regular season title at risk.
“It’s really satisfying,” sophomore Blair Shankle said. “We wanted to prove we were the best in the league, the Big 12. They played extemely well in Lubbock and got the best of us, but we came in and really wanted this one.”
Doubles play started out close between Baylor and Texas Tech. Senior Ema Burgic and freshman Theresa Van Zyl struggled at the top of the lineup and dropped a quick 6-1 decision to give Texas Tech the early advantage.
The No. 42 freshmen duo, Kelley Anderson and Leolia JeanJean, returned the favor as they blew past Lynn Kiro and Sabrina Federici 6-2 on court two. With the point being decided on court three, Shankle and junior Kiah Generette took a 6-3 win for the 1-0 Baylor lead.
While Texas Tech took early leads on several singles courts, the Bears did not let up and took five of six opening sets in the Big 12 championship final. Burgic avenged a loss against No. 69 Kenna Kilgo as she went on a nine-game run to win 6-3, 6-0 at the top of the lineup.
“I really wanted to go back out there and beat her,” Burgic said. “I was just thinking, ‘One point at a time. I got this.’ I kept my focus more than she did; I broke her at 3-all, which made a big difference. From then on, I just didn’t let her come back at all.”
No. 37 Shankle provided Baylor with the second singles win of the afternoon. The Dallas native kept pace at the No. 3 spot as she defeated No. 114 Sarah Dvorak 6-2, 7-5 to push Baylor one step closer to another Big 12 title.
“Texas Tech was playing tough, and a lot of games were at deuce so it could have gone either way,” Shankle said. “I just wanted to finish out my match and get it to 3-0.
Van Zyl clinched the match for the third straight day, but it was not easy. She maintained a steady flow throughout the match against Sabrina Federici, and with a late push she won 6-2, 7-5 to seal the 4-0 sweep.
“I just brought the energy and hoped for the best,” Van Zyl said. “I just played the match, and whatever happens happens. I’m happy I did it for the team, and that’s the goal for me.”
Anderson was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after she had an impressive showing in doubles and singles play over the weekend. With the amount of newcomers on the team this year, it made it that much more special, Scrivano said.
“Kelley has come such a long way. She’s so coachable, she’s every coach’s dream,” Scrivano said. “For me, it’s a great experience and it’ll never get old, but I love seeing the rookies win a championship and experience it as well.”
Baylor will await its seeding for the 2015 NCAA Championships next. The selection show will begin at 4 p.m. today, and the team will host a watch party open to the public in the Stone Room of the Ferrell Center.