Bears battle back for upset over No. 6 Wake Forest

Graduate transfer Ryan Dickerson rebounded form back-to-back losses to Louisville and Arkansas to grab a three-set victory over Wake Forest's Henri Squire Thursday night at Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center. DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

By Braden Simmons | reporter

No. 12 Baylor men’s tennis team defeated the sixth-ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons Thursday 5-2 at Hawkins Indoor Center. This was the first matchup between the two ranked teams as last season’s match was canceled.

Following a close loss to Arkansas, head coach Brian Boland said they learned a lot from the defeat to help them in Thursday’s victory.

“We spent some time making sure we assessed each individual on what was needed for this week,” Boland said.

The Bears took the first point with two commanding victories in doubles play. On court one, junior Sven Lah and senior Constantin Frantzen stayed undefeated on the season with a 6-2 win. The clinching game came on court three as sophomore Finn Bass and freshmen Sebastian Nothhaft defeated their opponents 6-3.

Lah, who was ranked No. 1 in doubles last year with Baylor tennis alum Jimmy Bendeck, said that he’s become comfortable with Frantzen as his doubles partner after working together in the fall.

“He makes my life a lot easier,” Lah said. “And we have a lot to improve on, but slowly and surely we will get there.”

The Bear’s second point came on court six in singles action when Frantzen defeated Siddhant Banthia in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. Frantzen moves to 2-0 in singles play this season after earning his first win in Arkansas on Saturday.

On court two, Lah started out with a 6-2 first set victory. In the second set, Lah came back from a 6-5 deficit to force a tiebreaker and defeated Taha Baadi in straight sets 7-6 (8-6) to clinch the third point for the Bears.

Lah said keeping his composure and improving his mental side was key in earning the win, putting distractions aside and focusing on what he could control to come back in the second set.

The Bears dropped their first game of the match on court five. Bass fought in a competitive first set that led to a tiebreaker but fell in straight sets 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.

To seal the final point and match victory, graduate transfer Ryan Dickerson came back from a first set loss of 6-2 to defeat Henri Squire in the second set without dropping a game 6-0. Dickerson finished where he left off in the second set to win the third set 6-3.

“I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes again,” Dickerson said. “I worked on my first strike all week in practice and in the match. I just trusted it in the end.”

This was Dickerson’s first victory over Wake Forest, a team he said he was very familiar with from his time at Duke.

The two teams played out the remaining matches. Junior Matias Soto dropped the first set to Bar Botzer 6-4 but came back in the second set to win 6-3. In the final set, Soto jumped out to a four-game lead and defeated Botzer 6-2 for the Bears fifth point.

Dickerson said the large crowd helped the players feed off the energy.

“This city feels like a tennis town,” Dickerson said. “When people come to our house, it seems like playing Baylor on the road seems like the toughest thing to do in college tennis. We definitely have a home-court advantage.”

In his first collegiate match on court three, freshman Alex Garcia dropped the first set 6-3 but bounced back in the second set 7-5. In the third set, Garcia retired from the match due to an injury.

According to Boland, the team is hopeful to have some players back from injury but doesn’t want to rush the recovery process as they have plenty of players ready to step in.

“We have depth so we are very fortunate to have guys play at a high level,” Boland said. “That is why you recruit depth and these guys are deserving of playing.”

Baylor’s next match will be against Penn at 5 p.m. Saturday at Hawkins Indoor Center. The Bears defeated the Quakers last season in Waco by a score of 6-1. Before the match, the team will host a USTA campus kid day where there will be a campus kid’s clinic from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.