The undefeated Baylor women’s tennis team (5-0) will hit the road for the first time this season, facing No. 23 Northwestern (4-3) on Friday and No. 10 Michigan (6-1) on Sunday. First serve against the Wildcats is set for 5 p.m. (CT) in Evanston, Ill., while match against the Wolverines begins at 10:30 a.m., in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“It’s been really nice to be at home playing in front of our fans and in a place where we’re very comfortable,” head coach Joey Scrivano said. “But if you’re going to be a great team, you have to win on the road. Our schedule is very rigorous and this is the beginning of figuring out how strong we are. We’ve passed the tests at home and our team has done incredibly well standing up to the quality of our home schedule so far. Now, we have to test ourselves on the road and I’m confident that our girls are ready for it. Our upperclassmen are showing great leadership and are doing a great job helping the team prepare for the challenges ahead.”
The Lady Bears last recorded a 4-2 victory over the then-ranked No. 36 Wildcats in Waco on March 23, 2016. Baylor leads Northwestern, 6-5, in the all-time series and is 6-4 against the Wildcats under Scrivano.
After starting the season 4-0, Northwestern suffered three consecutive losses to Duke twice (4-3 both times) and Vanderbilt (5-2). The Wildcats, who are undefeated at home, boast three ranked singles players, including No. 87 Maddie Lipp, No. 103 Brooke Rischbieth and No. 110 Lee Or. Doubles duo Maddie Lipp and Alex Chatt is ranked 15th nationally, while Rheeya Doshi and Jillian Rooney are 34th.
Michigan secured four consecutive wins before falling to No. 1 Florida (4-1) on the first day of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. The Wolverines came back from that loss with wins over No. 8 Vanderbilt (4-1) and No. 15 Texas A&M (4-2) to finish the championship. Three Wolverines are ranked nationally in singles, including No. 26 Kate Fahey, No. 27 Brienne Minor and No. 64 Alex Najarian. Fahey and Najarian are the third-ranked doubles duo, while Minor and Mira Ruder-Hook are ranked 40th.
In their last meeting, the Lady Bears fell 4-2 to the then-ranked No. 4 Wolverines on March 3, 2016. Baylor trails Michigan in the all-time series, 2-1.
Baylor has won all five dual matches of the spring season with home victories over McNeese State (4-0), UT Rio Grande Valley (4-0), Oregon (4-3), Washington (4-3) and Rice (4-2). The Lady Bears notched a riveting triumph over Rice last weekend, with freshman Angelina Shakhraichuk securing her first collegiate ranked win over No. 102 Alison Ho.
“We have to stay the course and continue to do what we’ve been doing,” Scrivano said. “Up to this point, our team has been really steady and they’ve embraced the process. Our number one objective is to be consistent in everything we do and do it at a standard that meets our program’s expectations. We’re not trying to get too high about any particular match or too low when things don’t go our way.”
Senior Blair Shankle has remained in the top 10 nationally at No. 9 with an undefeated (3-0) record in singles play this season. Fellow senior Rhiann Newborn is also perfect on the year, 5-0, in singles action.
Following this weekend’s dual matches, the Lady Bears continue the road swing in Columbus, Ohio, where they will face No. 17 Miami and No. 4 Ohio State on Feb. 24 and Feb. 26, respectively.