By Braden Simmons | Reporter
No. 5 Baylor men’s tennis swept Gonzaga 4-0 to begin their play at the ITA Kickoff tournament Saturday in the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.
The Bears continued their strong doubles play starting with a 6-0 victory from junior Sven Lah and senior Constantin Frantzen. Sophomore Finn Bass and freshman Sebastian Nothhaft clinched the Bear’s first point, winning 6-2 over the Bulldogs.
Singles play was a battle between the Bears and Bulldogs. Head coach Brian Boland credited Gonzaga with coming out of the gate with strong energy.
“They were a really strong team top to bottom,” Boland said. “They competed hard and it made for a really enjoyable match for the fans.”
On court two, Lah started the scoring in singles play for the Bears with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Matthew Hollingworth. Next, redshirt senior Ryan Dickerson defeated his opponent, Eric Hadigan, in straight sets 6-2, 6-1 to give the Bears their third point of the match.
Bass clinched the Bears’ final point and victory for the team, but it was not easy. He defeated Vincent Rettke 6-2,7-5 after falling behind 5-0 early in the second set.
“It was a bit of a shock to be in that position in the second set,” Bass said. “I was thinking to play point by point to build confidence and gain enough momentum for the comeback. These matches show character and I didn’t give up and kept my foot on the pedal to win seven games.”
The Bears had three competitive matchups that did not finish once the fourth point was clinched. Junior Matias Soto was down early in the first set 5-2 with the set on the line, but won the next five to defeat Sam Feit 7-5. Nothhaft defeated Oliver Andersson in the first set 7-6 (13-11) and freshmen Rahul Dhokia defeated Kyle Everly in the first set 7-5.
According to Boland, the team fed off the energy from the crowd. The energy peaked in the arena as Nothhaft won 7-6, (13-11) in a stressful first set tiebreak.
“I really appreciate those that come out and support us,” Boland said. “It really makes such a huge difference and will be critical for us tomorrow.”
Baylor never lost a set against the Bulldogs, completing comebacks on multiple courts to clinch set victories. Boland said it was great to see the composure of his team as they battled from behind.
Heading into a championship matchup against Louisville, Boland said the match against Gonzaga was exactly what the Bears needed at this point of the season.
Bass said the team is feeling positive heading into a matchup with the Cardinals. Louisville is coming off a 4-1 victory over New Mexico Saturday morning.
“Everyone is doing their part, and even though we have a lot to improve on, we are doing things that we can control really well,” Bass said.
The Bears face Louisville tomorrow at 3 p.m. in the Hawkins Indoor Center. With a win, Baylor will punch its ticket to the ITA Indoor Championship in Madison, Wis.