By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer
It was a record-setting night on Friday in the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center as an all-time high of 452 fans showed up to support the Bears. Despite the constant energy and noise, No. 11 Baylor men’s tennis dropped a hard fought match 5-2 against No. 4 University of Michigan.
Head coach Michael Woodson and the Bears (5-2) went into a tricky match against Michigan (7-0) feeling confident and ready to snag another top-10 win. Even though the team fell, it was able to hang around with another elite foe.
“I don’t know that I can ask [for] a lot more of the effort that they put out there,” Woodson said. “They fought all the way to the end on all courts. I thought we fought really hard and I mean, it’s hard not to with a crowd like that.”
The Bears opened up the night with gritty doubles play. On court three, freshman Luc Koeing and sophomore Ethan Muza played hard but lost quick 6-2. Courts one and two put on a show. After battling hard, fifth-year senior Finn Bass and senior Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi fell just short 6-4.
After Michigan took the first point, singles play started up and every single court produced a thrilling battle. Even though Mazzuchi was able to keep it close, he fell in consecutive 6-3 sets to secure another point for the Wolverines.
A battle on court five showcased freshman Zsomber Velcz, who took the first set 7-6 and then followed it up with a 6-3 beatdown in the second set to put Baylor on the board. The crowd ushered in support from behind him the entire match.
“It’s always amazing to play at home,” Velcz said. “The crowd is amazing every time. It’s a huge help for us, the team, to have that support.”
With the match score sitting at 2-1, Baylor looked to Bass to fight long enough to hold off Michigan. He battled in the first set but fell 7-6, then dropped the second set 6-3, giving the Wolverines a 3-1 lead.
On court three sophomore Marko Miladonović continued his hot streak by winning the first set 6-4. While things started out looking good for him, the second set didn’t fall his way as he was on the wrong side of a 6-0 shutout. With the Bears only one point away from defeat, Miladonović couldn’t dig himself out of an early hole and lost the third set 6-2.
Even though the win was secured for No. 4 Michigan, the Bears opted to keep fighting on courts one and six as each match went into the third set.
Reigning Big 12 Player of the Week Tadeas Paroulek was upped to court one after his strong play during ITA Kickoff weekend and he didn’t disappoint. He showcased his skills again and gave one of the top singles players in the nation a run for his money. Things looked grim for Paroulek after he dropped the first set 6-0, but he battled back and took the second one 6-4. He went the distance but ultimately, in the final set, he fell 6-2.
To finish out the day, court six went into a super tiebreaker after Muza snagged the first set 6-4, then lost the second 7-5. Muza, confident as ever, hyped up the crowd and breezed to a 10-4 victory to give the Bears another point to make the final score 5-2.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Woodson said. “Nothing that comes at us will be a surprise. We just have to continue to get better at little things.”
The Bears will have time to regroup and prepare for another tough opponent in No. 3 Texas Christian University in the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. After experiencing a record setting crowd, the Bears expect a white-out crowd to cheer them on again against TCU.