Season Review: Tennis teams defend home court, fail to defend titles

As the Baylor men and women’s tennis regular season come to an end and post-season action begins, both teams have come a long way to where they are now.

Through the ups and downs, both teams came together in the end to finish with a winning record at home.

No. 43 Bears (14-12, 1-4) struggled from the start with ineligibilities and injuries but were able to come through with a 13-4 record at home.

Even with senior Julian Lenz, who individually ranks No. 16 in the country, as the leader of the team, the Bears struggled to find his game through the first part of the season. The team’s form through the season was rocky.

After losing several close matches to top-ranked teams, it was the upset against the University of Texas that gave the Bears and Lenz some momentum back.

“I played really bad the last five weeks, probably, but I’ve been playing better,” Lenz said. “I was focusing on more in practice and it is paying off. I’m not playing at my highest level right now, but we still have a few weeks to step and get it going. Today I guess it was that I was the more experienced guy, and I knew I wanted to get that last hold at four all and get into his head which I think I did.”

Freshman Jimmy Bendeck surprised many with his performance at No. 4 singles after coming off an injury.

“I think, because I was out for a while, no one really knew who I was,” Bendeck said. “But I always knew I could come out and win matches, because I could fight. That was the difference. I knew what Baylor was about. It’s about fighting like little dogs and doing everything you can to win. That’s exactly what I was about.”

Although the Bears charged forward after the win against the Longhorns to win three straight at home, their momentum would be halted in away matches.

The Bears have lost their last three matches, including the most recent against Texas Christian University.

Even with a sour ending to the regular season, the Bears will still have a chance at redemption as they kick off Big 12 tournament play seeded at No. 5 play tournament against host and No. 4 Oklahoma State University at noon Friday.

The No. 42 Lady Bears (17-13, 6-3) six-match losing streak at the beginning of the season could have set the tone for the rest of the season, but in the midst of chaos the Lady Bears found a way to get back on track.

“You can’t spend enough time on your team’s mindset. That’s what we have to work on. We have to make sure we have a strong mindset and a good attitude, and we need to play with energy. Those intangibles make an impact,” said head coach Joey Scrivano.

The Lady Bears took Scrivano’s words to heart as they ended regular season action on a five-game win streak, with wins coming against tough team such as Iowa State, West Virginia and, the most recent on the road, upsetting No. 24 Texas.

“We’ve come a long way, and we’ve learned a lot throughout this season. I told the team I wanted them to show what they’ve learned and demonstrate the skills they’ve developed. I’m proud of how they competed and played the right way today,” Scrivano said.

With an opening round bye as they head to Stillwater, Oklahoma for the Big 12 Championship, the Lady Bears will see first signs of action on 9 a.m. Friday against Kansas.

Finishing their season 6-3 in conference play, the Lady Bears could finish ranked at No. 2 and no worse than No. 3.

“We’re definitely in a better position to make the NCAA Tournament, but we still have opportunities in front of us to show how much we’ve grown,” Scrivano said.