Bears Roll in Tennis Opener

Senior Tony Lupieri returns a ball during Baylor’s 4-3 loss to top-ranked Oklahoma on April 10 at the Hurd Tennis Center. The Bears end their season in the NCAA semifinals with a 4-2 loss to three-seed Virginia on May 18. Photo credit: Lariat File Photo

By Thomas Mott | Reporter

The No. 23 ranked Baylor Bears jumpstarted their 2017 tennis season with a dominating 7-0 win over visiting Incarnate Word Saturday afternoon inside Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.

Baylor Head Tennis Coach Matt Knoll was impressed with the way his team fought against UIW.

“Great energy real positive. I got to give Incarnate Word credit. They made us work. They fought hard. Great first match for us,” said Baylor Head Coach Matt Knoll.

Doubles took center stage early inside the indoor tennis center where two of the three Baylor teams dominated early and often.

Sophomore teammates Juan Benitez and Jimmy Bendeck along with Will Little and Johannes Schretter all struck the ball well early giving their Bears two easy victories, 6-1 and 6-2.

The Bears only loss came in the longest doubles match of the afternoon. Freshman Bjoern Petersen and Senior Max Tchoutakian exchanged multiple holds of serve with UIW only to fall short in the end 5-7.

The remaining six singles matches went on without a hitch for the Bears as they won all six matches by a total set score of 72-20.

“I want to give it to my teammates, I thought everybody fought like little dogs today and I’m just super pumped with the positive energy,” said Little

Coach Knoll however, noticed that his guys were a little tense early in their matches.

“It sounds funny but we were nervous. I would say the majority of our guys were struggling with nerves some. We have a young team that has got a chance to be pretty good. We are just going to need to be seasoned a little and that’s where a match like this was great,” said Coach Knoll.

Knoll does indeed have a young team. Six of his nine players are either freshman or sophomores. However even with the youth, Little, a red shirt sophomore, likes how this team is coming together.

“We are a little bit younger, this is the youngest team I’ve been on. Everyone is really pumped up and super energetic. We really bond really well as a team,” said Little.

Petersen, who stands at a towering 6ft 5in, was one on the doubles teammates that lost the only match of the day for Baylor. While he acknowledged that there were definitely nerves during his match, Petersen turned his day around by being the first singles player to finish his singles match on Saturday in impressive 6-0 6-1 fashion.

“I liked that we were pumped and everybody was positive. Little nervous in the beginning, but then I played good,” said Petersen

As the Bear’s season kicks into high gear, the players reiterated the need to stay focused and play well in important moments.

“We just need to be tuff. We need to stick to our fundamentals,” said Little.

The young team will also have to maintain focus during the big points that often present themselves in the game of tennis.

“Win the important points. Play the best tennis when it’s important,” said Petersen.

The Bears will head on the road at 2 p.m. this Saturday in College Station when they take on the Texas A&M Aggies.