By Michael Haag | Sports Editor
Baylor women’s tennis head coach Joey Scrivano scheduled No. 18 University of Florida because he knew the Gators are traditionally successful and it would present a good challenge for his squad. While Florida bested the Bears 6-1 Sunday afternoon in the Hawkins Indoor Center, Scrivano said he’s grateful that his group was tested by one of the nation’s best teams.
“We put them on the schedule because we knew they were going to push us and that definitely happened today,” Scrivano said. “We were pushed. But on a lot of courts, we responded well. We made some positive steps forward but obviously, we’d love the results to be different. We have to learn from it. That’s all we can do.”
It was a tough day for Baylor (6-2) as it struggled to get much going. Florida (3-1) took the doubles point and ran away with singles play until the final matchup, when senior Isabella Harvison shrugged off a first set loss to prevail 1-6, 6-1, 7-5.
“[Harvison’s] made some really good steps and I’m proud of her because [with] the way that first set went, her spirit could have been broken,” Scrivano said. “Instead she buckled down and got tougher, more focused, and she got rewarded for that.”
The sophomore pairing of Brooke Thompson and Alina Shcherbinina dropped their doubles match first, 3-6. Then Harvison and sophomore Anita Sahdiieva fell by a score of 4-6 which gave the Gators the doubles point.
In singles play, senior Paula Barañano had a tough draw on court three as she fell 0-6 in consecutive sets. Thompson lost to her opponent 1-6, 0-6 minutes later to give Florida a 3-0 overall lead.
Freshman Danielle Tuhten battled hard on court five, but was ultimately defeated 4-6, 4-6. Tuhten nearly rallied in the second set to even the count, but her loss officially gave Florida the overall win.
“The identity of the team is forming,” Scrivano said. “And we’re seeing that we’ve got some really tough kids on our team and we’ve got some fighters. But, there’s still a lot of road to go and the team has to come together more and we’ll learn from today and we’ll get better.”
Both programs agreed to finish out the remaining three singles matches and Harvison was the lone athlete to find a win. Sahdiieva, along with freshman Daniella Dimitrov, went the distance but dropped their contests.
Baylor now looks ahead to a road contest against Harvard University at 3 p.m. on Wednesday in Cambridge, Mass.
Scrivano expects the Bears to gain more experience from playing the Crimson (3-3) in a tussle away from Waco.
“They’re a really good team, a super talented team,” Scrivano said. “We added them on the schedule because we wanted a tough road match. And I think we’re gonna get that. I think we’re going to have our hands full with them but that’s how you get better. Our mindset there is just go there, learn from today and try to come out of there with a win.”