By Ben Everett | Sports Editor
As Baylor men’s tennis prepares for the NCAA Tournament, they do so with major momentum. Over the weekend, the Bears captured their first Big 12 Tournament title in five years with an upset win over No. 2-ranked Texas.
Freshman Adrian Boitan played hero for the Bears on Sunday afternoon in Lawrence, Kan., clinching the match point with Baylor trailing on two other courts. Boitan took down Texas senior Leonard Telles 7-5, 6-4 to cement a 4-1 victory for Baylor. Head coach Brian Boland said he enjoyed seeing Boitan step up for the Bears.
“It was nice to see the freshman come through at the end,” Boland said. “That guy’s a warrior, and he played well. [He was] well-deserving to finish the match.”
Boitan became just the second freshman in the tournament’s history to be named Most Outstanding Performer.
“This has been the best year of my life coming here at Baylor, playing in college,” Boitan said. “We are the most prepared team in the country and it showed today. I went into the last shot with no regrets, and it was amazing clinching the win for us.”
Boland said the Big 12 title belongs to seniors Johannes Schretter, Jimmy Bendeck and Will Little.
“This is their first Big 12 tournament title. I’m just happy and proud for them,” Boland said. “They’ve done some great work this year and they’ve really embraced a lot of the changes and challenges that we’ve faced.”
Baylor started the match off strong by clinching the doubles point. Despite the No. 1-ranked duo of sophomore Sven Lah and Bendeck falling 6-0, the Bears rebounded with Schretter and junior Constantin Frantzen combining for the win on court three before sophomore Matias Soto and Little finished off the Longhorns on court two to put Baylor up 1-0.
To start off singles play, Little fell to Texas senior Harrison Scott, but Lah downed senior Colin Markes in a tiebreaker to give Baylor a 2-1 lead. Soto picked up a tiebreaker win over junior Yuya Ito to put the Bears just one point away from a Big 12 title.
“That was a great win for Matias Soto, because he played a top-10 player in Ito. So that was a huge win for him and our team,” Boland said. “He just continues to improve and raise the level of his game throughout the entire year.”
With Schretter and sophomore Kyrylo Tsygura trailing on courts one and six, respectively, Boitan came through to give the Baylor the win.
Boland said Baylor’s team energy propelled them to the victory.
“From the beginning, the guys came out with a lot of energy,” Boland said. “I was really impressed with how they dealt with the adversity of having to move indoors. The guys just embraced it and said, ‘Well, we’re just going to compete every single point and leave it on the court.”’
Baylor will learn where it stands in the NCAA Tournament during the selection show at 5 p.m. Monday.