No. 25 Baylor men’s tennis completes furious comeback in 4-3 win over ASU

After this current road trip to Arizona, No. 25 Baylor men's tennis will return to the Grand Canyon State to take part in the ITA Kickoff Weekend, hosted by No. 16 Arizona from Jan. 27-28. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Editor

After losing its first doubles point of the year, No. 25 Baylor men’s tennis knew what it needed to do in singles play.

The Bears — capped off with a third-set triumph by junior Oskar Brostrom Poulsen — fought their way to a 4-3 victory over Arizona State on Thursday evening at the Whiteman Tennis Center in Tempe, Ariz.

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With the win, the Bears have their 25th 3-0 start to a season in program history. They are also 4-0 in their first away game of the season under head coach Michael Woodson.

“We came out passive in doubles, and I give ASU a ton of credit,” Woodson said. “They came out with tons of energy, aggressive movement and aggressive play, and I felt like we got put on our heels. It was competitive, but we leaned back just enough, and they took charge to take the doubles point.

“I really challenged the guys on their presence after the doubles and was very impressed with how they responded, both on and off the court. We did a good job of rallying around each other. … I was very impressed with the overall effort and competitiveness of this group.”

Baylor secured three-straight wins to open singles play after losing the doubles point, but the Sun Devils (2-1) leveled the score at three points apiece, which led to a decisive match on Court Four.

Brostrom Poulsen, a transfer from Middle Tennessee State University, forced an ill-advised return from ASU senior Jacob Bullard, and the Bears rushed the court in celebration of the walk-off win.

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Baylor now holds an 8-2 edge over Arizona State in the all-time series. The Bears bested the Sun Devils last season in the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center to advance to the ITA Indoor National Championships before falling to them 4-3 at the Hurd Tennis Center in March.

Arizona State’s doubles pairing of freshman Bor Artnak and senior Max McKennon took down Baylor’s redshirt freshman Martin Breysach and Brostrom Poulsen by a score of 6-3 to strike first.

Senior Tadeas Paroulek and sophomore Zsombor Velcz teamed up for a 6-2 win on Court Three, but freshman Devin Badenhorst and sophomore Luc Koenig fell 6-4 to give the Sun Devils the doubles point.

The Bears responded in singles play with wins on Courts Two, Three and Five to take a 3-1 lead. Velcz made quick work of his opponent with a 6-4, 6-1 victory. Junior Marko Miladinović followed suit, earning a 6-2, 6-2 win just before Badenhorst took down McKennon 6-2, 6-4 for his second win as a Bear.

Arizona State evened the tally at 3-3 when No. 10 junior Murphy Cassone defeated No. 32 Paroulek 6-2, 6-4 and freshman Louis Bowden fell 6-2, 6-4 on Court Six.

It all came down to Court Four, which went the distance. Brostrom Poulsen came away with a 6-4 first-set win before Bullard retaliated with a 7-6(2) victory in the second set. Brostrom Poulsen jumped out to a 3-1 lead and held on for the 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3 success.

“Oskar, coming off struggling on Saturday, this was his first three-all match,” Woodson said. “You couldn’t tell that watching him play, though. He played a great match his way, with a great mentality and energy. He committed to himself, and he was able to get it done, so I give him credit. There’s nothing better than watching a three-all-clinching moment in college tennis. Hats off to the guys; I know they enjoyed it.”

Thursday’s win followed a doubleheader sweep on Saturday to open the 2024 campaign. Baylor will stay put and face No. 16 Arizona at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday at the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz.

The Bears have competed against the Wildcats in each of the last three seasons. Arizona won the most recent meeting by a score of 5-2 last February.