By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
No. 5 Baylor men’s tennis opened the season with doubleheader wins over Boise State and UT Arlington Saturday at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.
The Bears’ 7-0 sweep of the Broncos marked head coach Brian Boland’s 600th career victory, making him one of three Baylor coaches (softball’s Glenn Moore and women’s basketball’s Kim Mulkey) to reach the landmark. Baylor returned to give Boland his 601st win with a 6-1 defeat of the Mavericks.
After the final match, the second-year head coach thanked the fans for showing up to support his team in the opener.
“That was an awesome crowd,” Boland said. “It makes a big difference when you play at home and you have that kind of energy in the building. It says a lot about the student body and community getting behind the program. I know the guys really enjoyed the atmosphere.”
Baylor fed off energy from the fans who packed Hawkins in the midafternoon matchup against Boise State. Sophomores Adrian Boitan and Finn Bass jumped ahead with a 6-0 set to earn the first half of the doubles point. Junior Sven Lah and senior Constantin Frantzen put the Bears on the board with a 6-3 win.
The Bears also took the doubles point over the Mavericks when 20th-ranked Lah and Frantzen won their set 6-1 and were followed with a 6-2 victory by the No. 25 duo of junior Matias Soto and redshirt senior Ryan Dickerson.
The Bears opened singles play against Boise State leading on five of the six courts. Bass earned his first collegiate win, defeating Mark Papadopoulos 6-3, 6-2 on court five. The U.K. native dropped the first set of his matchup against UT Arlington’s Alan Sau Franco, but fought back to win 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 and nab the Bears’ final point of the day.
A cool, calm and collected Soto grabbed the next point against BSU with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Kyryll Kryvchun on court one. Ranked No. 59 in singles play, the junior returned later that night to take the 6-3, 6-4 victory against Mavericks senior Alejandro Hayen.
Freshman Rahul Dhokia clinched the winning point against the Broncos with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Michael Bott on court six. Dhokia collected his second win of the day against UTA’s Solano Caffarena, 6-3, 6-4. Boland said he was impressed with Dhokia’s performance in his two first collegiate victories.
“Those were his first dual matches he’s ever played and to play with that kind of composure and aggressive style was impressive,” Boland said. “He’s come so far in terms of his development as a player over the course of the last several months and it really showed today … He looked more like a veteran at times than someone who was kind of playing the first matches of his career.”
Boitan shortly followed Dhokia, defeating Boise State’s Blake Bayldon 6-1, 7-5 on court two. The 70th-ranked sophomore retired the match against UT Arlington, down 2-6, 2-0 to Angel Diaz, to drop Baylor’s only lost point of the day.
No. 111 Dickerson picked up a 6-3, 6-3 win over Simon Arca-Costas on court four. Playing with an audible fierceness, the Duke transfer clinched the match against UTA with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Eduard Simo.
Lah struggled early against Boise State’s Wyatt DeMulling but roared back to complete the sweep 3-6, 6-0, 7-5. With a bounce in his step, the 19th-ranked junior nabbed the first singles point over the Mavericks with a 6-2, 6-1 victory against Miguel Cabrera.
Although the Bears had a strong start, Boland acknowledged that there are still a lot of things they need to build on and improve.
“I’ve always felt the first couple matches of the year are challenging for different reasons,” Boland said. “We have some guys that are a little bit vulnerable in terms of some physical things that we have to work through. Today, we got through it against two excellent teams, so I was pleased with the effort, the energy and the overall execution of the team on the court, but we have a long way to go.”
Baylor will play Nebraska at 1:30 p.m. Monday at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.