Baylor Women's Tennis Readies for 2017 Big 12 Championship - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Baylor Women's Tennis Readies for 2017 Big 12 Championship

WACO, TX (KXXV) -

No. 15 Baylor women’s tennis (20-5) opens Big 12 Championship with quarterfinal action on Friday, April 28, at 4 p.m. (CT). Entering the tournament as the No. 3 seed, the Lady Bears will challenge No. 6 Oklahoma at Headington Family Tennis Center in Norman, Okla.

“Traditionally, we play our best tennis in April and May,” 15th-year head coach Joey Scrivano said. “If you look at the 15 years I’ve been here our best tennis is in those two months, so we’re peaking and we’re going in the right direction. I think our team sees that and they’re excited for the postseason.”

The Sooners enter the tournament with a No. 43 ranking nationally and a 14-7 record overall. OU finished the regular season 4-5 in Big 12 play. The Lady Bears defeated then-ranked No. 47 Oklahoma, 4-0, on March 10 in Norman early this year. Baylor leads the Sooners, 21-3, in the all-time series, winning each of the last 15 matchups.

“We had a dress rehearsal in March when we played them on the road,” Scrivano said. “They’re a tough team. They have a new coach and she’s done an amazing job of getting those players to compete hard. We can’t overlook Oklahoma. We have to be ready to play them and if we do that whatever happens happens, but I like our chances.”

Baylor enters the postseason riding a 10-match win streak, with victories over six ranked teams including then-ranked No. 47 Oklahoma (4-0), then-ranked No. 32 USC (4-1), then-ranked No. 20 Texas A&M (4-0), then-ranked No. 24 Texas (4-2), then-ranked No. 24 TCU (4-1) and then-ranked No. 27 Kansas (4-0). They closed the regular season with a perfect record at home, 14-0, to become the fifth team in program history to go undefeated at home overall and the first to do so since 2010.

Fifth-ranked senior Blair Shankle leads the way for the Lady Bears at No. 1 singles. She enters the Big 12 Championships as the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week. It was her fourth honor of the season, which marks Big 12 and Baylor records for most in a single season. It is also her seventh career weekly honor from the conference, which ties Zuzana Zemanova’s Big 12 and Baylor career records.

“Blair has done so much in her career here,” Scrivano said. “She’s won multiple Big 12 and tournament titles, Big 12 Player of the Week, ever accolade out there, except a singles All-American award. For me that’s something I really want for her this year. She did the work to achieve that and I think she’s realizing she can be the best player in college tennis. It’s a credit to her for grinding away and four years of dealing with me. For her to do that says so much about her and what she wants to achieve.”

Fellow senior Rhiann Newborn is also represented in the nationally rankings, coming in at No. 114. She is riding a four-match win streak and went 4-1 in Big 12 play this year. Newborn has compiled a career-best 18-6 record on the season and has toppled three ranked opponents.

In doubles, Shankle is ranked nationally with two Lady Bears. She has played the last six matches of the regular season with sophomore Karina Traxler, registering a 5-1 mark to earn a No. 34 rating nationally. Shankle and sophomore Elizabeth Profit, who are 9-6 as a unit, are ranked No. 47.

In the Big 12 Championship, Baylor owns a 34-12 record overall and an impressive 29-6 mark under  Scrivano. The Lady Bears have advanced to the semifinal round of the conference tournament in 12 of the last 13 seasons, missing the milestone last year with a 4-2 loss to then-ranked No. 33 Kansas.

With a win on Friday, the Lady Bears would face with the victor between No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Kansas/No. 10 West Virginia on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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