The 20th-ranked Baylor women’s tennis team kicks off its spring competition slate with a doubleheader at home on Friday, Jan. 26. The Lady Bears meet Western Michigan at 11 a.m. (CT), followed by New Mexico at 6 p.m. inside the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.
“The players are chomping at the bit to compete against somebody other than their teammates,” 16th-year head coach Joey Scrivano said. “We have a really young team, so they don’t see the value in working the fundamentals every day and competing against each other. At the same time, they’re ready to compete against outside competition, and they need that for their growth.”
Baylor, which made its 13th consecutive NCAA Championship bid and 20th overall last season, returns three letterwinners in No. 98-ranked senior Theresa Van Zyl and sophomores Angelina Shakraichuk and No. 117 Jessica Hinojosa.
Scrivano, who has led the Lady Bears to 11 regular season and eight tournament Big 12 Championships, six NCAA Elite Eight appearances and two Final Four berths, bolstered his roster with the addition of five freshmen, No. 110 Livia Kraus, Katelyn Parker, Kristina Sorokolet, Dominika Sujova and Giorgia Testa, and one sophomore transfer, Camilla Abbate.
“They’re coming at a pretty high level; they have a good tennis IQ,” Scrivano said. “It’s just putting the building blocks together, teaching them areas that they are doing well and areas they need to improve. But ultimately for a tennis player, the first step is you’ve just got to figure out what your identity is. We’re just going through that process right now.”
The spring piece of the process for Baylor, a team chosen to finish fifth in the Big 12 and ranked No. 20 in the Preseason Oracle/ITA Poll, begins with a two-match challenge in Waco.
Western Michigan will have four dual matches under its belt before Friday’s match, while New Mexico will have its first dual match of the season against the Lady Bears. The Broncos finished 2016-17 with a 10-13 record overall and a 6-2 mark in the Mid-American Conference for sixth place. The Lobos wrapped the 2016-17 season with an 8-13 mark overall and a 4-1 record in the Mountain West Conference for third place.
Cub Tennis, a free clinic for kids 11 and under, will begin at 5 p.m. prior to the match against New Mexico. To participate, children must wear athletic clothing and shoes. Tennis equipment is provided.