By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
No. 27 Baylor women’s tennis opened conference play with a 6-1 victory over Iowa State Friday night at the Hurd Tennis Center, playing outdoors for the first time this season.
The Bears got the doubles point to set the tone for the match with two of three wins on courts one and three. Senior Angie Shakhraichuk and sophomore Paula Barañano dropped the Bears’ only doubles loss 6-2 to Cyclones freshmen Thasaporn Naklo and Christin Hsieh on court two.
Juniors Mel Krywoj and Alicia Herrero Linana grabbed the first half of Baylor’s doubles point with a 6-1 victory on court one and juniors Livia Kraus and Kris Sorokolet battled through a 7-6 (6-4) tiebreaker to put the Bears on the board.
Head coach Joey Scrivano said he was impressed with the mental toughness of his team throughout the match.
“It just set the tone,” Scrivano said. “What I loved about it was the way we won it. We were dominate in one, didn’t play our best at two, and three was a dog fight. We showed a lot of mental toughness down there at three to find a way to win the tie breaker to really set the tone — got us off to a good start.”
Baylor flew through the singles play on courts six and four as Barañano and Herrero Linana took wins against ISU senior Margarita Timakova and freshman Ting-Pei Chang in straight sets 6-2, 6-1 and 6-1, 6-2, respectively. Kraus then clinched the match for the Bears with her 50th career singles win on court three 6-1, 6-4 over Hsieh.
Kraus said that while she was aware of the action on the surrounding courts, it was important for her to lock in and focus on her own match to get the winning point.
“You always look on the other courts because you’re not alone, you’re a team,” Kraus said. “So you want to know what’s going on but if you want to play well you have to be focused. I had to just focus on my match and just concentrate on every single point instead of looking around. I was aware, but I just tried to look on my court and make sure that I closed the match.”
The rest of the matches were played out with Shakhraichuk storming back from an early deficit in the first set to take a 6-4, 6-4 win on court five, earning the fifth point. Krywoj dropped the only point of the night in an intense three-set tiebreaker to Cyclone senior Mati Cancini 7-5, 6-3, 1-0 (10-8) on court one. Bears sophomore Anastasia Kharitonova closed the night out with a 6-3, 7-5, 10 (10-5) tiebreaker win after dropping the first set to Naklo on court two.
Even if Baylor didn’t grab the sweep to open Big 12 play, Scrivano said the Bears’ mentality shined through the difficult moments of the match and that it will be a crucial element going forward in spring play.
“We’ll take the win any way we can, but more importantly, I just like the way that we’re showing mental toughness on a lot of courts,” Scrivano said. “You know, mental toughness travels very well and it works very well in the post season and the NCAA tournament. So that’s what I’m looking for, just how mentally tough are we, and tonight we showed that.”
Baylor gets back to work against West Virginia at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Hurd Tennis Center.