No. 9 MT ready to return home after grueling road stretch

After many matches on the road, Baylor men's tennis finally returns to its home courts on April 3 against TCU. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer

The last time No. 9 Baylor men’s tennis played on their home courts was Feb. 12. Despite the thousands of miles traveled by the team between then and now, unknown courts have not deterred them from finding success.

Victories have been claimed across the country, in short periods of time and in a range of conditions. Some matches were played indoors while others were played outdoors, forcing the players to adjust quickly to the different environments.

“The routine is the same, but the preparation for the matches might be a little different depending on the type of conditions and courts we play,” junior Adrian Boitan said. “We focus on some specifics that might help us play there.”

After a three-match stretch earlier this month against the University of Illinois, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, head coach Michael Woodson spoke on the resilience the Bears have displayed on the road.

“Really impressive effort from the guys,” Woodson said. “To go on this 10-day road trip, play indoors up in Illinois, play outdoors under the lights at Arizona State and then come outdoors during the day with altitude and wind at Arizona is really putting the team through the wringer, and the result of the consistency of being able to get the job done, really speaks volumes to who these young men are.”

Woodson’s squad conquered each of those challenges, walking away with wins in all three matches, which Woodson believes will help them moving forward.

“We’ll certainly be a better team as a result of it,” Woodson said. “I’m proud of the guys for going undefeated on this trip and ready to be headed back to Waco.”

However, that was just a small glimpse of what Baylor (18-2) is dealing with as they’re in the midst of a 10-match road trip. Out of the nine matches played so far, Baylor is 7-2. The first loss was against then-No. 2 University of Tennessee in the semifinals of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s National Team Indoor Championship. The second was against No. 12 University of Michigan.

With a quality win this past week against No. 1 Texas Christian University, Baylor tennis has continued to show that not having a home court advantage doesn’t affect their play. In fact, Boitan said it gives them opportunities to learn playing in different environments.

Boitan has been playing for Baylor for the last four years and excels in both doubles and singles. Currently No. 15 in collegiate singles play, he is 14-1 on the singles court and was named Big 12 Player of the Week this week for the third time this spring.

Besides playing for Baylor, he also represents Romania on the international stage. In addition to traveling with the Bears, he journeys even farther to represent his country.

Earlier in March, he participated in the Davis Cup, the largest annual international team tennis competition. He played for Team Romania as they challenged Spain in the World Group Qualifying play, requiring him to travel to Spain. Boitan said long road trips makes the team miss playing at home even more and extra trips, like his to Spain, makes it even worse.

“We all miss playing at the Hurd [Tennis Center] because it’s just a great place to play,” Boitan said. “Being on the road so much, especially with me going to Spain too for the Davis Cup, added more to that fatigue.”

The green and gold have done a good job of hiding their tiredness as they continue to claim match victories — so far being 9-2 in matches not played at home — but Boitan says Waco is always on his mind.

“I miss Waco and the people here whenever we travel so much,” Boitan said. “I miss playing at home.”

With only one more away match on this road stretch, the Hurd will not be missed for much longer. The Bears take on the University of Texas at 6 p.m. Friday in Austin before returning to Waco to face TCU at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the Hurd Tennis Center.