By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
The No. 4-ranked Baylor men’s tennis team fell to rival No. 9 TCU 1-4 Wednesday night at the Hurd Tennis Center to drop out of the Big 12 Championship race.
The Bears (21-5, 2-2) remained at third place in the conference standings, whereas a win over the Horned Frogs (16-4, 4-0) would have forced a three-way tie for first place.
Baylor head coach Matt Knoll said the lack of upperclassmen was a factor in the loss.
“It’s always tough to lose,” Knoll said. “I think its a really good experience for our guys. I think we’ll grow from that. I think you saw some of the youth of our guys tonight.”
The Bears got off to a slow start in doubles play with the Horned Frogs leading 3-2 on every court.
The No. 3 pairing of freshman Constantin Frantzen and Tchoutakian were the first to fall, losing 2-6 to TCU’s Trevor Johnson and Cameron Norrie.
The 5-5 match on Court 1 between the pairing sophomores Juan Benitez and Will Little and TCU’s Guillermo Nuñez and Alex Rybakov was called off after the Horned Frogs clinched the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead overall.
In singles play, the No. 43-ranked Tchoutakian raced out to a quick lead against No. 83 Nuñez on Court 3, winning the first set 6-1.
On Court 6, Frantzen faltered to a 3-6 loss in the first set to Johnson. On Court 2, the No. 53-ranked Schretter fell to No. 27 Rybakov in the first set 2-6. Little lost the first set to Stalder 4-6 on Court 5.
In the Court 1 matchup between No. 13-ranked Benitez and No. 2 Norrie, Benitez fell behind 2-4 before coming back to make it a 4-5 game. Norrie pulled away to win the first set 6-4.
Bendeck and Lopez went back and forth on Court 4 with Bendeck, edging out the first set win 7-5.
Nuñez bounced back to take a set from Tchoutakian 6-4, forcing a decisive third set on Court 3.
Schretter, coming off a Big 12 Player of the Week award last week, struggled again in the second set to Rybakov, losing 0-6 as TCU chalked up another point to take a 2-0 lead overall.
Benitez took down Norrie 6-3 in the second set to force a third set on Court 1.
Frantzen and Johnson went down to the wire in the second set on Court 6, but Johnson outlasted Frantzen in the tiebreaker to give the Horned Frogs a 3-0 lead in the match.
On Court 5, Little came storming back from down 0-3 to win the second set 7-5 and force a third set against Stalder.
Tchoutakian put Baylor on the board with a third set win over Nuñez, but the Bears still trailed 1-3 in the overall match.
Knoll said it was nice to see Tchoutakian get a win on senior night.
“To beat any of their guys is really good,” Knoll said. “Max has been really good all year and he fought his tail off today.”
Norrie clinched the match for the Horned Frogs with a 6-1 third set win over Benitez on Court 1.
Tchoutakian said after the match that senior night was special for him but wanted the team to experience similar success.
“It was a special day for me,” Tchoutakian said. “I got a win for myself but I’m disappointed for the team. TCU is a great team. We knew it was going to be tough but we came up short today.”
Baylor will close out the regular season with a match against Texas Tech at 6 p.m. Saturday in Lubbock.