By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Matt Knoll insists that his 24th-ranked Baylor men's tennis team doesn't do anything differently on its home courts than it does on the road. The record belies that, though.
While the Bears (18-7, 1-2) are just 4-6 away from the Hurd Tennis Center and Hawkins indoor courts, they improved to a perfect 14-0 at home with Saturday's 4-0 shutout of 30th-ranked Texas Tech (18-8, 0-3) on the outdoor courts at Hurd.
"I think it shows we take a lot of pride in playing here," Knoll said. "We really just wanted to focus on improving, and I think we did that. This league is so tough. Every match is going to be really difficult. But, I thought our guys took a big step forward today."
After tight losses on the road last week to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the Bears bounced back in a big way to snap a five-match losing streak to Texas Tech and post their first Big 12 shutout since a 4-0 win over Oklahoma State in 2015.
Freshman Sven Lah, who got a point on the board with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over the Red Raiders' Artem Kapshuk at No. 5, said the team was motivated after last weekend's losses in Oklahoma.
"We came out hot in doubles, got that point, which was necessary for keeping the momentum and just maintaining our focus level," he said. "And then I think in singles, we came out hot on all six courts and showed them that it's not a joke, that we're really into it."
Baylor's two ranked doubles teams took care of the opening point. Ninth-ranked Johannes Schretter and Will Little rolled through Tech's Jackson Cobb and Alex Sendegeya, 6-1, at No. 1, then the 50th-ranked duo of Constantin Frantzen and Akos Kotorman clinched it with a 6-2 win over Connor Curry and Ilgiz Valiev on Court 2.
If Tech was hoping to come back in singles, the Bears squashed those plans in a hurry by winning the first set on five of the six courts and taking control of the match. Sophomore Bjoern Petersen dropped a first-set tiebreaker to Sendegeya and was down 5-0 in the second set when the match ended.
After straight-set wins by Lah and fellow freshman Matias Soto (6-3, 6-2 over Curry at No. 3), it was a race to the finish on the four other courts. Frantzen was just a point away from finishing off Cobb at No. 6, and Little was leading Valiev, 6-2, 6-5, and serving on Court 4.
But, it was the 65th-ranked Schretter that got to the finish line first to clinch it, beating No. 120 Tommy Mylnikof, 7-5, 6-2, at No. 2.
Lah, who improved to 13-4 with his seventh straight dual-match win, said he is "not thinking about getting wins for myself. If we win as a team, that's a win for me. And I think everyone on our team does that. We care more about the team win than individual wins."
In a difficult closing schedule, the Bears face ninth-ranked TCU (15-3, 2-0) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Fort Worth before hosting 19th-ranked Texas (13-5, 1-1) at 2 p.m. next Sunday, April 22, in their regular-season finale.
"We've got a big challenge in front of us in going up to TCU, where they're going to have a big crowd and more importantly a fantastic team," Knoll said. "We're going to be excited to go up and see if we can't start bringing the same energy and focus level to the road matches that we do to the home matches.
"If we can continue to move forward, then I think there's a lot of great things in front of us for this team."
WACO, Texas -- No. 24 Baylor men's tennis (18-6, 1-2 Big 12) controlled the match from start to finish in a 4-0 sweep of No. 30 Texas Tech (18-8, 0-3 Big 12) Saturday evening at the Hurd Tennis Center.
BU's win snapped a five-match losing streak to the Red Raiders and was the first sweep over a Big 12 opponent since Baylor blanked Oklahoma State in 2015. BU also moved its home record to 14-0 in 2018.
Baylor held early leads in the doubles point to start the match. Ninth-ranked Johannes Schretter and Will Little dropped Jackson Cobb and Alex Sendegeya at the top of the lineup with a 6-1 win. 50th-ranked Constantin Frantzen and Akos Kotorman followed with a 6-2 win over Connor Curry and Ilgiz Valiev on court two to clinch the opening point.
BU's momentum followed into singles play with five of six opening sets going the Bears' way. Freshman Matias Soto won his second Big 12 match with a 6-3, 6-2 showing against Connor Curry at the No. 3 spot to put BU up 3-0.
Freshman Sven Lah captured his seventh consecutive win as he disposed of Artem Kapshuk, 6-4, 6-3, on court five. No. 65 Johannes Schretter wrapped up the match with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over No. 120 Tommy Mylnikov on court two.
BU also held late second-set leads on courts four and six before the matches were abandoned.
Saturday's win snaps a five-match losing streak to the Red Raiders dating back to 2015.
BU improves to 14-0 at home this season.
Baylor sweeps its first Big 12 opponent since 2015 where BU blanked Oklahoma State.
BU moves to 20-4 in the doubles point this season and moves to 17-3 when winning the opening point.
BU moves to 29-31 all-time against Texas Tech and 23-6 against the Red Raiders under head coach Matt Knoll.
Sven Lah is now 13-4 in dual singles matches and a winner of seven in a row.
50th-ranked Constantin Frantzen and Akos Kotorman are now 8-1 in dual matches.
BU has won 12 of its last 15 matches dating back to Feb. 18.
STAT OF THE MATCH
5 -- the amount of first sets won by Baylor in singles play.
"It's always about getting better. We really hadn't played that well. We didn't think we did a lot of things well (last weekend). We really wanted to focus on improving (tonight), and I think we did that. We took a lot of steps forward. This league is tough, and so every match is going to be really difficult. I thought our guys took a big step forward today." --head coach Matt Knoll
Closing out their road schedule, the Bears take the short trip up I-35 to face ninth-ranked TCU on Thursday, April 19 at 5:30 p.m. CT.
Follow the Bears all season long on their official social media accounts: @BaylorMTennis.