By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Don’t let its 16-12 record fool you — the Baylor women’s tennis team is locked in and feeling good as it enters the Big 12 Tournament.
Despite losing 4-0 to No. 5 Texas on April 20, the Lady Bears have won seven of their last nine matches and head coach Joey Scrivano said they are extremely confident heading into postseason play.
“It’s always good to have momentum late in the season going into postseason, and I like the position we are right now. We’re playing well so we’re excited about the weekend,” Scrivano said.
The Lady Bears will certainly need to utilize their momentum as they enter the Big 12 conference tournament. Although Baylor only has one senior, Theresa Van Zyl, Scrivano said he looks to her and his sophomores for much-needed leadership.
“Theresa and our sophomores, they really need to step up and just be great in the locker
room, in the preparation for the match and between points,” Scrivano said. “They have to a great mindset and a great attitude and if they do that, then it will spill over into everyone else.”
Van Zyl has played in big postseason matches in each of her first three seasons, including a win in a 4-2 Big 12 semifinal loss to Oklahoma State as well as a dominant performance in Baylor’s NCAA Tournament opener against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Van Zyl said it’s her job to make sure the underclassmen are focused and prepared, a responsibility she’s more than willing to carry.
“Being the upperclassmen leading the younger girls, it’s taking more responsibility and making sure everything is done to perfection and making sure they do their part as well,” Van Zyl said.
The first fight for Van Zyl and the Lady Bears is the fourth-seeded Kansas Jayhawks, a team that defeated Baylor 4-1 back on March 12.
Scrivano compared the first matchup to a poor shooting night in basketball.
“The first time we played them, they really dominated us. We didn’t play our best tennis,” Scrivano said. “I’d give you the analogy of basketball, we probably shot about 30 percent so it’s hard to win when you’re shooting at that rate. We have to really improve our consistency this time around.”
Despite the lopsided result the first time, Van Zyl and the Lady Bears remain confident that they can return the favor. But since both teams know the other’s strengths and weaknesses, it will come down to execution and strategy.
We know every team’s strengths and weaknesses and they know ours as well. It’s just on the day, who does it better, who plays better and who does their strategy better,” Van Zyl said. “All their players are good, mentally tough. We have to be ready to compete, but if we go there, fight our hardest and play our game and use our strengths against
their weaknesses, the result is going to be different.”
Sophomore Camilla Abbate was the only one who won her match back in Lawrence, Kan., in March, taking a 6-4, 6-2 victory over junior Janet Koch on court three.
Abbate said her main focus this time around is simply competing and letting her game speak for itself.
“I just want to compete. I don’t want to put pressure on myself. I’d like to go on the court and play and see if it’s enough,” Abbate said.
Baylor and Kansas will hit the courts at 9 a.m. Friday in Austin.