WACO, Texas – With a 4-2 loss to No. 3 Virginia, the second-ranked and second-seeded Baylor men's tennis team had its 2015 season ended Monday at the Hurd Tennis Center in the semifinal round of the NCAA Championship.
Hosting the final site competition for the NCAA Championships for the first time in program history, the Bears had returned to the semifinal round for the first time since 2007, but were unable to advance to the program's third title match.
After beating Virginia twice during the regular season, Baylor looked poised to continue its season with a win in the doubles point and victories in the first set on three courts. However, the Cavaliers turned the tide in singles play to reach Tuesday's title contest versus No. 1 Oklahoma.
The Bears finish the season with a 25-6 record, including a 16-4 mark at home and a 21-6 record against ranked foes. With the victory, Virginia improves to 28-3.
In doubles, Baylor was pushed to the brink by UVA, but responded to up its record to 28-2 in the opening point this season. It marked only the fourth time this year, in which the Bears won the doubles point and then lost the overall match.
To open the day, the eighth-ranked duo of Diego Galeano and Julian Lenz upset the country's No. 2 tandem of Luca Corinteli and Ryan Shane, 8-4, at the No. 1 spot. BU's top ranked pairing has won 20 of their last 21 matches and have now knocked off the country's No. 2 and No. 3-ranked pairings in back-to-back matches.
At that point, the match on court 2 was tied 6-6 with Virginia serving, while the Bears trailed 7-5 on court three, but were serving.
The Cavaliers held for a 7-6 advantage on court two, and Vince Schneider pulled BU within a game at 7-6 on court three with a hold.
Mate Zsiga then served to keep BU in the match at the No. 2 spot, but he was broken to deliver a 8-6 victory to the 42nd-ranked Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Mac Styslinger for Virginia over Zsiga and Tony Lupieri.
On court three, the BU duo of Felipe Rios and Schneider pushed things into a tiebreaker with a break. In the seven-point tiebreaker, the receiving team won 11-straight points, before Schneider held to give the Bears the match, 8-7(5), on court three over Collin Altamirano and J.C. Aragone and the doubles point.
In singles action, Virginia quickly jumped back in to the match as the second-ranked Lenz was upset by No. 8 Shane, 6-3, 6-4 at the top of the lineup.
The Bears fell behind for the first time in this year's championship with Rios' 6-3, 7-5 setback to J.C. Aragone at the bottom of the lineup.
The remaining four matches all went into a third set and Galeano was the lone Bear to win one of those matches. The senior Bear upset 19th-ranked Kwiatkowski, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, to win his eighth-straight decision.
With the score now knotted at 2-2, the 35th-ranked Lupieri was tied 0-6, 6-2, 4-4 with No. 20 Mitchell Frank at the No. 2 spot.
Virginia's 77th-ranked Altamirano held a 4-6, 6-4, 4-1, lead over Max Tchoutakian on court three.
On court five, the 116th-ranked Zsiga trailed 4-6, 6-2, 3-2 against Alex Ritschard.
From that point, the Bears were in a battle looking to win two out of three matches.
Lupieri was broken to fall down 5-4 in the third set, after he had jumped out to a 4-1 in that deciding set. He then broke right back to send tie things up at 5-5.
Meanwhile on court four, Tchoutakian reeled off two holds and a break to tighten his third set against Altamirano, 5-4, after falling behind 5-1.
However, the comeback was short-lived for the Bears as the Cavaliers won courts two and three almost simultaneously.
First, Frank got past Lupieri with a break and a hold, 6-0, 2-6, 7-5, on court two and then Altamirano held to beat Tchoutakian, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 at the No. 3 spot.
- Baylor improved to 28-2 in the doubles point this season.
- Baylor fell to 2-3 in its five semifinal round appearances at the NCAA Championship.
- Baylor finished 16-4 at home this season. It is the first time BU has lost than more than three matches at home since 2001 (6-6).
- BU lost for the first time ever when hosting NCAA Championship play (26-1).
- Baylor is now 21-6 against ranked foes.
- Baylor has a 6-7 record in NCAA Championship matches with a 4-2 score.
- Baylor is 52-17 all-time in NCAA play.
- Baylor trails the all-time series against Virginia, 9-5.
- Baylor is 0-3 against the Cavaliers in the NCAA Championships.
- Baylor has won at least 25 matches for a second-straight season and the 11th-time in program history.
TOP QUOTE #1
“I think what you see in a match like this, that is this close, is that you are going to have momentum swing back and forth numerous times. We got off to a really poor start in the third set at [court] three. I think we go down love-four and then we started to claw our way back into that one. That's where I was, so I really felt some momentum there. Tony [Lupieri] and Mitchel [Frank] were having a heck of a battle on two. I wasn't watching point by point but I could tell that they were really going after each other and competing hard and giving it everything they've got.”– head coach Matt Knoll on the match
TOP QUOTE #2
“I think the preparation phase is exhaustive. You put so much of your focus and heart and soul into getting the place ready and making a great impression on college tennis. All the student-athletes are going to come in here and we'll give them a first-class venue and a first-class experience, in terms of organizing the volunteers and all the things that go into this, as well as reaching out to the community. We reached out and worked hard to get the Waco community behind this event because it is special." – Knoll on hosting the NCAA Championships
Although Baylor's dual-match season has come to a close, the Bears will be represented in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships by three singles players and one doubles pairing May 20-25. Galeano and Lenz will represent BU in doubles, while Lenz, Lupieri and Tchoutakian will in the 64-man singles draw.