WACO, Texas – For the first time since 2007 and the fifth-time in program history, the second-ranked and second-seeded Baylor men's tennis team is headed to the NCAA Championship semifinals, after downing No. 8 USC, 4-2, at the Hurd Tennis Center Saturday.
The Bears (25-5) won the doubles point and claimed singles victories on courts four, five and six to best the Trojans (25-5).
In doubles, BU continued its strong play with victories on courts one and two.
First, the 79th-ranked duo of Tony Luperi and Mate Zsiga downed Max De Vroome and Eric Johnson, 8-5, at the No. 2 spot.
Next, the eighth-ranked pairing of Diego Galeano and Julian Lenz upset the No. 3-ranked pairing of Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz, 8-4, at the top of the lineup. BU's top ranked pairing has won 19 of their last 20 matches and the win over the third-ranked pairing is their best of the season.
The Trojans quickly erased BU's early advantage as No. 85 Johnson downed 58th-ranked Max Tchoutakian, 6-3, 6-4, on court three.
BU jumped back in front with No. 116 Zsiga's upset of 94th-ranked de Vroome, 6-3, 6-3, on court five. Zsiga now has 106 career singles victories, which are sixth-most in program history.
On court two, the 35th-ranked Lupieri faltered against No. 25 Roberto Quiroz, 6-3, 6-3, to once again tie the match, 2-2.
At that point, the contest looked headed for a tight finish as the second-ranked Lenz was battling 15th-ranked Hanfmann into a third set on court. Meanwhile, Galeano and Felipe Rios had each won their first sets, but were being pushed in the second sets on courts four and six, respectively.
However, the pair of Bears forced their second sets into tiebreakers where they shined.
Rios upset 61st-ranked Nick Crystal 6-3, 7-6(5), while Galeano, who graduated from Baylor on Saturday, polished off the 45th-ranked Jonny Wang, 6-3, 7-6(0) to clinch the match and send the Bears to the Final Four.
The final two matches wrapped within 15 seconds of each other as Rios' victory celebration was cut short to watch Galeano nail down the clinching point.
STAT OF THE DAY
0 - the number of matches Baylor has lost when hosting NCAA Championship play (26-0)
- Baylor improved to 27-2 in the doubles point this season.
- Baylor advanced to the NCAA semifinals for the first time since 2007 and the fifth-time in program history.
- Baylor improved to 5-7 in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championships.
- Baylor is 16-3 at home this season, and improved to 26-0 in NCAA Championship play when hosting.
- Baylor is now 21-5 against ranked foes.
- Baylor has a 6-6 record in NCAA Championship matches with a 4-2 score.
- Baylor is 52-16 all-time in NCAA play.
- Baylor now trails the all-time series 7-6 against USC.
- In NCAA play, the Bears are 2-2 against the Trojans.
- Head coach Matt Knoll now has 450 wins as BU's head coach (450-117).
TOP QUOTE #1
“Well it's hard to do. It's incredibly hard to do. We have had some incredibly talented teams that haven't been able to do that. It's special and it's even more special to be able to do it here in front of your home crowd when you are playing your best tennis and feeling great and doing it with your brothers and friends. It will be a great day.”– head coach Matt Knoll on making the NCAA semifinals
TOP QUOTE #2
“It's stunning honestly. I'm proud to be a part of this league. I think I said somewhere when they announced the draw that I am excited about having the tournament here with the league so strong because I think that we can cheer for each other. The fans can help the other Big 12 teams and I think some of that has happened. I think there is a great feeling down here for tennis and a lot of these teams have great fan bases and they are turning out and they are making it a great event.” – head coach Matt Knoll on the Big 12 getting three teams into the semifinals
Baylor will now face No. 3 and third-seeded Virginia (27-3) Monday at 1 p.m. in the NCAA semifinals at the Hurd Tennis Center. The Cavaliers knocked off No. 17 Columbia, 4-0, Thursday, and then beat No. 5 Texas A&M, 4-0, Saturday.
Earlier this year, BU beat Virginia, 4-3, in the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships on Feb. 14 and then took them out 5-2 on March 1 in Waco. BU still trails the all-time series against the Cavaliers, 8-5.