Baylor Women’s Tennis Edges No. 8 Virginia, 4-3

Posted at 10:04 PM, May 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-16 23:04:06-04

WACO, Texas – With Rachael James-Baker's three-set singles victory, the ninth-ranked and eighth-seeded Baylor women's tennis team slipped past No. 8 and ninth-seeded Virginia, 4-3, Friday at the Hurd Tennis Center to secure a place in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals.

James-Baker, a junior transfer from Detroit, Mich., found herself as the last match on court as her teammates had battled the Cavaliers to a 3-3 draw. She trailed Skylar Morton, 7-6(3), 5-6 and had to win three-straight to get to that point when the attention turned to court four.

The 113th-ranked junior Bear went on to break Morton, after the Cavalier saved multiple set points, to claim the second-set, 7-5.

The momentum turned fully in James-Baker's favor from that point on as she rolled to a 6-1 win in the third set to get the Bears back to the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 2011 and the sixth-time in program history.

Baylor (28-6) won its ninth-straight match overall thanks to James-Baker's victory and wins in the doubles point and at the No. 3 and 6 singles spots.

Long before James-Baker's heroics, the Bears had to pull out a tightly-contested doubles point. The Cavaliers jumped out to the early lead as the 62nd-ranked pairing of Ema Burgic and James-Baker lost an 8-3 decision to No. 28 Julia Elbaba and Morton on court one.

BU fired back with an 8-3 triumph by Kelley Anderson and Theresa Van Zyl at No. 2 spot over Cassie Mercer and Stephanie Nauta. The BU duo, which is now 4-0 on the year, was playing together for the first time since Feb. 15.

With Baylor and Virginia each claiming a doubles contest, the point was left to be decided on court three where Kiah Generette and Blair Shankle were headed to a tiebreaker against Danielle Collins and Maci Epstien.

The Bears had held the early advantage in the match with 3-1 and 4-2 leads, but the Cavaliers tied things up at 4-4 and then 6-6 to push the match in to the tiebreaker. BU controlled the seven-point breaker from the beginning and went on to take it 7-3 for an 8-7(3) triumph in the match, which gave BU the doubles point.

In singles, Baylor and Virginia each won three first-sets. However, the Bears were first to turn that lead in to a point on the scoreboard.

Anderson, a freshman, raced past Mercer, 7-5, 6-2, at the No. 6 spot to give the Bears a 2-0 edge. That advantage was short-lived as Virginia picked up wins on courts one and two.

First, the 80th-ranked Generette faltered, 6-2, 6-1, against No. 15 Collins at the No. 2 position and then the 22nd-ranked Burgic was unable to upset No. 6 Elbaba, 6-1, 6-2, at the top of the lineup.

The Bears snatched back momentum with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 victory by No. 41 Shankle over the 40th-ranked Nauta at the No. 3 spot.

After winning the first set, 6-3, Van Zyl dropped a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 decision to Epstein at the No. 5 position to once again tie the match, 3-3. That result set the stage for James-Baker's comeback.


  • The Bears will play in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals for the sixth-time in program history.
  • BU is now 6-5 and 6-4 under head coach Joey Scrivano all-time in NCAA Round of 16 matches.
  • Baylor is 32-17 all-time in NCAA play and 29-11 under Scrivano.
  • Baylor is 21-2 at home this season, and improved to 21-0 in NCAA Championship play when hosting.
  • Baylor is now 4-3 in 4-3 matches in 2015 and 19-6 against ranked opponents.
  • Baylor now leads the all-time series against Virginia 4-2.
  • BU avenged a 4-1 loss to the Cavaliers from last season's NCAA Championship Round of 16 match.


“I've seen a few of these over the years and I predicted that this was going to be a tight match. The margin between winning and losing was very small. I think in the end, it was probably a five or 10-point difference. For our girls to stick with it and find a way to win is amazing and impressive." – head coach Joey Scrivano on the match

"It's the NCAA, it's at Baylor, we're in the Sweet 16 and my team needed me. Thank God I was able to pull through and hard work paid off. I
t's very tough playing for three hours or so, but it's something that as a tennis player you know that you have to do. Our bodies are prepared for it– physically, mentally, emotionally – and so that definitely helped." – Rachael James-Baker on her win

Baylor will now face No.1 ranked and top-seed USC (24-2) Sunday at 4 p.m. CT in Waco, in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals. The Bears lead the overall series against the Trojans, 2-1, and beat USC 4-3 in their last match in Waco on March 11, 2014.