By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Intern
Doubleheader victories aren’t foreign to No. 3 Baylor men’s tennis. After clinching two wins against University of the Incarnate Word and Idaho State University on Sunday in the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center, the program secured its 44th straight doubleheader win.
A tennis doubleheader occurs when two matches are played within a single day. For each match, three doubles partners are selected to compete for the doubles point, and six singles players are selected to play for the six remaining points. Oftentimes, the same individuals who participate in doubles matches also compete in the singles category.
With this dynamic, doubleheaders can be difficult for teams that lack depth in their reserve players. Those players who have competed in the first match may not be in top form for the next match of the day. As a result, head coach Michael Woodson said doubleheaders are a perfect way for coaches to allow new faces to enter the court.
“[Doubleheaders] are typically opportunities to get more guys involved, typically more developmental work and really trying to challenge them to do certain things in the matches,” Woodson said.
Fifth-year senior Sven Lah, a veteran who has experienced many doubleheaders, said that although these types of match days give him the chance to get more repetition on the court, they also “get other guys involved.”
“Younger guys, or somebody that’s coming out from an injury [who] hasn’t played for a while, I think those are the kinds of chances that you want to take,” Lah said.
With 44 straight doubleheader wins, Baylor (9-0) has displayed that a multitude of players within the program have the ability to step up and win.
For example, doubleheaders have provided freshmen with opportunities to enter the court and gain some confidence. Ethan Muza was able to secure his first win in the green and gold during Baylor’s home-opening doubleheader on Jan. 24 against Abeline Christian University and Boise State University. Additionally, freshman Marko Miladinović won his singles match against ISU on Sunday.
“I’ve been particularly impressed by Marko [Miladinović],” Woodson said. “He’s been so into it which is awesome and difficult as a first-semester freshman. He’s enjoying the atmosphere, digging in and building confidence. It’s been really impressive.”
Presenting opportunities for younger members of the team to play also promotes team chemistry, which will be important going into the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship later this month. These doubleheaders serve as preparation for what is to come. After dropping the doubles point to ISU during Sunday’s match, Woodson said even when situations get uncomfortable, the team needs to come together. That day allowed the team to become unified amid adversity, and ultimately the Bears gained a victory.
“We go to National Indoors and play three or four matches in a weekend and we are going to need to be able to utilize all our tools and all of the players in different roles,” Woodson said.