By DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer
The No. 6 seeded Baylor men’s tennis team will face Utah in the first round of the NCAA tournament at the Hurd Tennis Center. The Bears will host the first two rounds of the tournament, welcoming Michigan and Dartmouth for the Waco regional on May 3-4.
This is Baylor’s 22nd consecutive NCAA Championship appearance and 14th time hosting overall. Head coach Brian Boland said he thinks the team has really come together and has worked hard to be where they are in the tournament.
“They’re very deserving of the sixth overall seed. We certainly have our work cut out for us, starting with Utah. They’re from the Pac-12, so we’re going to start Friday night and we’re certainly going to be ready to go,” Boland said. “This is a strong regional. We played Michigan as well earlier on in the year and had a very competitive match with them in the kickoff weekend. And of course, Dartmouth out of the Ivy League. It’s a strong conference right now. Our focus needs to be on Utah and it’s going to be a challenge.”
After epically clinching the Big 12 Tournament title over No. 2 seeded Texas, Baylor seniors Johannes Schretter and Will Little said they feel they are ready for whatever the tournament throws at them.
“We have a lot of momentum. Texas kind of had our number, so I think it was really nice to kind of turn the tables around from the earlier defeat and just beat them,” Little said. “We’re going to be bold here. I mean, we’re trying to win the whole thing.”
Having the home court advantage could be a big thing for the Bears as they’ve gone undefeated in home matches this season. Baylor is 13-0 at home and, according to Schretter, it could be a major advantage to possibly play the first three rounds to a home crowd.
“Coming to Baylor and playing us on our courts is definitely not easy for anyone in the country,” Schretter said. “I think you have to earn your right to play at home, which makes sense, and I think we definitely did this semester. But we don’t want to look at it too much. We’re going to play it round by round, but it definitely helps to possibly play three rounds at home. It could be a great advantage for us.”
The Bears are coming off 4-1 wins over Oklahoma and Texas in the Big 12 Tournament, which won them their first conference tournament title in five years thanks to a 7-5, 6-4 win by freshman Adrian Boitan over Texas senior Leonard Telles. Since winning the Big 12 tournament, Boitan, along with sophomores Matias Soto and Sven Lah, were named to the Big 12 All-Tournament Team.
Baylor, which holds a 22-5 overall record, will be the top seed in the regional, facing the four seed Utah, who is 17-11 at 6 p.m. after second-seeded Michigan (17-8) opens the weekend against three-seeded Dartmouth at 3 p.m. The winners of round one will face each other at 6 p.m. on Saturday for a chance to play in the Round of 16.