By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Baylor men’s tennis saw its goal of winning the Big 12 Tournament championship fall one match shy Sunday afternoon in Austin.
After upsetting the fourth-seeded Oklahoma State Cowboys on Friday and the top-seeded TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday, thanks to the heroic tiebreaker from freshman Matias Soto, the Bears fell to the second-seeded Texas Longhorns 4-2.
Baylor head coach Matt Knoll said that Texas was just a little bit better than his team Sunday, especially during the big points.
“For anyone that knows tennis, you can see that (Texas) is one of the best teams in the country. Their talent level is better than their ranking,” Knoll said. “They were just sharper than us. We needed to be more assertive at key times on key balls. They were more assertive than we were at certain situations. A couple of our guys were a little nervous. We’re certainly disappointed, but credit to them. They were really good and sharp in singles.”
But Baylor responded with identical 6-4 wins on courts two and three. Redshirt junior Will Little and sophomore Constantin Frantzen finished first on court three and the freshmen duo of Sven Lah and Roy Smith put the Bears in front 1-0 with the win on court two.
Texas quickly tied the match at one as No. 57 sophomore Yuya Ito never allowed Soto any rhythm in taking down the freshman 6-2, 6-2.
Baylor regained the lead as No. 68 Schretter put together a strong effort, knocking off No. 112 sophomore Christian Sigsgaard 7-5, 6-3 on court one as the Bears went in front 2-1.
Schretter said that he remained confident despite falling behind early because he had been similar positions all season long.
“I was not moving too well at the beginning, so I missed more shots that I usually miss. But I wasn’t too worried because the last couple of matches, I always had a slow start. So it didn’t freak me out too much,” Schretter said.
The biggest thing for Schretter was being able to figure out how to handle Sigsgaard’ return, and once he did, it was smooth sailing.
“I played a really good game at 4-5 when he served for the set, that’s when I kind of started to figure out how to return because he served really well. But then I neutralized his serve and then things got turned around got better for me. I was able to get on top of him and was able to close it out fairly quick in the second set,” Schretter said.
Texas would then handle business taking the next three singles matches to claim the match and the Big 12 Tournament championship.
Little was the first domino to fall, as junior Harrison Scott bested him 7-6, 7-5. Then it was Lah falling 6-3, 6-4 to junior Leonardo Telles on court four.
Finally, after Smith dropped the opening set 6-4 to junior Rodrigo Banzer, he came back to force a second set tiebreak. With the score tied at three at the changeover, Banzer took four of the next five points to put away Smith and close out the match.
Knoll said that although disappointed that it fell short, his team still enters the postseason with a lot of confidence.
“We leave here feeling great about the weekend. We’re crushed we didn’t win, but I think we have to look at this weekend as a success. We know what we’re trying to do. The guys are getting better. I think we’ll be pretty good in the NCAA’s,” Knoll said.
Baylor (20-10) will await its postseason fate. The Bears will host an NCAA Selection Show Watch Party in the Stone Room on Tuesday. The women’s selection show begins at 4 p.m. with the men’s following at 4:30 p.m.