By Ben Everett | Sports Editor
While outdoor tennis season doesn’t begin until the spring semester, the Baylor men’s and women’s tennis teams have made their mark in various events this fall.
On Monday, senior Jimmy Bendeck and sophomore Sven Lah capped off a week-long run at the ITA Men’s All American Championships at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla., with a doubles draw title.
In the final match, both sets went to a tiebreaker. Bendeck and Lah fell behind and squandered the first set as Ohio State juniors Kyle Seelig and Alex Kobelt took a 1-0 lead in the match with a 7-6 win.
The Bears took set two 7-6 after coming back from being down 5-3 to force a winner-take-all tiebreaker. Bendeck and Lah sealed the championship win in the final tiebreaker 1-0.
Bendeck said he was impressed with Lah’s performance, given that he played both singles and doubles matches.
“Sven [Lah] did an unbelievable job,” Bendeck said. “He had 14 matches [in Tulsa]. There were a couple of days where he had singles and doubles matches, and it was unbelievably impressive that he was able to get through that. I think that fueled us as a team. In big moments, we had resilience. We felt confident, and it was just a product of being tough and being prepared. In the final, we were enjoying the moment. I think that’s what helped us get through it.”
The win marked the first ITA All-American doubles championship in Baylor history. Lah said that, despite the high stakes, he and Bendeck never stopped having fun and enjoying the game.
“We had a lot of fun, especially in the second set,” Lah said. “We were down 5-3 in the second set, but we were relaxed and having fun. Once we won that second set, we just seized the opportunity and took care of business. We’re playing better and making improvements. I’m looking forward to the opportunities we’re going to have later in the fall.”
Meanwhile, the women’s tennis team kicked off their fall schedule with the H-E-B Invitational that ran from Friday to Sunday.
While Baylor didn’t come away with a title in the singles or doubles draws, four Bears combined to go 10-4 in singles action. Junior Jessica Hinojosa and sophomore Kristina Sorokolet each won four matches in the three-day tournament.
Baylor head coach Joey Scrivano said the team has a lot to improve on, but the H-E-B Invitational was a good pre-season tournament to prep the Bears for the spring season.
“I’m pleased to see our ladies taking the little things more seriously,” Scrivano said. “They played a lot of tennis this weekend and showed a lot of mental toughness today. We definitely are making steps forward. Ultimately, we have a lot of room to grow and this group has a high ceiling. It’s key for us to keep focusing on improving the skills that really matter. Overall, good start to the fall season for us.”
The men return to action Oct. 13 to Oct. 21 for the Harlingen Futures in Harlingen, Texas. The women compete in the ITA Texas Regionals from Oct. 18 to Oct. 22 in College Station.