Baylor women’s tennis gallops through singles with 4-2 victory over SMU

Baylor women's tennis freshman Zuzanna Kubacha returns a volley during the Bears' nonconference match against SMU on Tuesday in the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.

By Michael Haag | Sports Editor

Baylor women’s tennis knew it had an uphill battle after dropping the doubles point to SMU.

The Bears found the rally they needed, as a flurry of singles wins — capped off by graduate student Isabella Harvison’s victory on court three — propelled them to a 4-2 victory over the Mustangs on Tuesday night in the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.

The come-from-behind effort lifts Baylor (16-9, 7-4 Big 12) to 9-1 in home matches this season, and it snapped a three-match losing streak entering Tuesday.

“Today was really big,” head coach Joey Scrivano said. “SMU is a great team. They’re an [NCAA] Tournament team. They’re a team that knows how to win, and especially when they get a lead on you, they’re really tough to beat.”

The Bears have now won five straight over the Mustangs (9-11, 4-1 AAC), including a 4-3 comeback victory in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

SMU jumped ahead early by winning the doubles point, as partners junior Liubov Kostenko and Harvison fell before No. 87-ranked duo junior Sierra Berry and freshman Zuzanna Kubacha were topped. Baylor held a 4-3 lead on court three, which remained unfinished.

The Bears answered in singles play, though, started by a 6-2, 6-0 shelling by Kubacha on court five. Kostenko followed with a 7-5, 6-1 victory on court two, but the Mustangs scratched another point on the board as Berry fell on court four by a score of 6-4, 6-3.

Baylor broke the 2-2 tie thanks to senior Miska Kadleckova’s 6-2, 6-4 success on No. 1, giving the Bears a lead they’d never let up. Kadleckova still holds the team lead with 15 singles victories this season.

Harvison dropped the first set in her matchup but clinched the match 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, for her 12th singles success of the year, good for second-most on the team.

“Isa’s been just incredible for us,” Scrivano said. “She competes so well. I was a little surprised she was down a set, but that can happen. This is tennis and the margins are small. So, [I] just love the way she responded. She showed a lot of perseverance.”

The Bears are now 9-1 at home on the year.
The Bears are now 9-1 at home on the year.

Scrivano added that Harvison’s perseverance epitomizes what this team had been lacking the last three matches.

“And the team knew that,” Scrivano said. “We talked about it going into this match, that we were going to need some players to play with a lot of character and a lot of toughness, and I think we had that.”

Sophomore Danielle Tuhten lost the first set of her singles duel, but she evened the count at 4-6, 6-6(3-3) before Harvison’s match-clinching victory.

Baylor will stick around for a meeting with No. 20 Oklahoma, which is scheduled for noon on Friday at the Hurd Tennis Center. The matchup with the Sooners marks one of two remaining home contests for the Bears, both coming against top-20 opponents (No. 8 Texas).

Scrivano said tennis is a mental battle and that this group will need to continue to have that tunnel-visioned focus moving forward.

“There’s a mental side, there’s a spiritual side and then there’s the tennis side where you have to get the team to play sound,” Scrivano said. “And I think we did that a little bit better today. We did better in all three areas today, and we have to just make the decision that we’re going to carry that in the next few matches.”