Baylor edges Texas, 4-3, for men’s Big 12 crown

Rux wins clincher over Corrie, in dramatic third set.

Longhorns get singles wins from Kellen Damico, Dimitar Kutrovsky and Jonah Kane-West, but Baylor edges Texas, 4-3 to claim Big 12 Championship

NORMAN, Okla. – Third-seeded Texas (19-5) picked up singles wins from sophomore Kellen Damico, junior Dimitar Kutrovsky and senior Jonah Kane-West, but top-seeded Baylor just managed to slip by the Longhorns, as the Bears posted a 4-3 win Sunday in the finals of the Big 12 Championship. The match marked the fourth consecutive meeting in the Big 12 finals between the two schools.

Baylor opened the match by claiming a tight doubles session to take a 1-0 lead. Baylor’s Denes Lukacs and Maros Horny opened with an 8-3 win over Texas juniors Dimitar Kutrovsky and Josh Zavala at the second slot. Texas senior Miguel Reyes Varela and junior Olivier Sajous held a 7-2 lead at the third slot over BU’s Dominik Mueller and Julian Bley before the Bears took the next four games to pull within 7-6. But, Texas’ Reyes Varela and Sajous finished off the match, 8-6, leaving the outcome of the doubles session to be decided at the first slot.

Trailing 7-4 to Baylor’s David Galic and Jordan Rux, Texas sophomores Ed Corrie and Kellen Damico broke the Bears’ service and held serve in the following game to pull within 7-6. Baylor’s Rux held serve in the next game to give the Bears an 8-6 win and the doubles point.

Damico put Texas on the board in short order with a 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Baylor’s Mueller at third singles. The Bears regained the lead at fourth singles, where Julian Bley dealt UT’s Sajous a 6-4, 6-3 defeat. Baylor pushed its lead to 3-1 at fifth singles, where Attila Bucko knocked off UT’s Zavala, 7-6, 6-1.

At first singles, Texas’ Kutrovsky took the first set off of Baylor’s Lukacs, 6-4 and served at 6-5 in the second set. Lukacs broke Kutrovsky’s serve to force a tiebreaker, but Kutrovsky seized control from there, winning the tiebreaker by a 7-1 count to cut the Baylor lead to 3-2.

At sixth singles, UT’s Kane-West dropped his first set to Horny, 6-4, but forced a third set by taking the second, 6-3. Kane-West raced out to a 4-1 lead before Horny broke and held to draw within 4-3. Kane-West held serve for a 5-3 lead, and Horny followed suit to pull within 5-4. Kane-West held serve once more to win the match, 6-3 and even the match at three points.

Trailing 4-2 in the first set against Baylor’s Rux, UT’s Corrie rallied to win five of the next six games to take the set, 7-5. Rux would rally to take the second set, 6-4 to force the deciding third set.

Leading 3-2, Corrie broke Rux to take a 4-2 lead, but Rux broke back to pull within 4-3. Rux held serve to even the set at four and broke Corrie again to take a 5-4 lead. Corrie saved one match point, but at 40-30, a Rux return clipped the net and fell far from Corrie’s reach, as Baylor finished off the set, 6-4 to win the match, 4-3.

“It was a great match,” Baylor head coach Matt Knoll said. “We are excited to win this event. Certainly it kicks off the postseason in a very positive way.” 

It was the third straight tournament title for Baylor and the seventh time in the last eight years the Baylor men’s tennis team has captured the trophy. The seventh-ranked Bears used the doubles point and three singles victories to defeat the 15th-ranked and third-seeded Texas Longhorns, at the Headington Tennis Center Sunday afternoon to earn the title.

“The Big 12 Tournament is a big deal,” Knoll said. “We have a trophy case back home and we don’t put trophies from all tournaments in there, we put these kind of trophies in there.”

Battling extremely windy conditions with gusts above 30 mph that played havoc with the ball all day, the Bears got up early by taking the doubles point with wins in two of the three matches.

“We knew today would be a rough day with the conditions,” Knoll said. “I thought our guys managed it as well as possible.”

“I am really proud of Jordan (Rux) for coming through with all of the pressure on him,” Knoll said. “It’s a special place to be as a tennis player: to be on the last match in a big situation. I am proud that he was able to come through and hold it together.”

Rux delivered the same result at last year’s Big 12 Championships in College Station when he beat Texas’ Milan Mihailovic in three sets to claim the title for Baylor at the No. 6 position.

“To be in that position is what you train for, it is what I think every player wants to be in, so to come out on top both times is really special,” Rux said. “It was extremely tough mentally. Obviously the wind out here is a huge factor. Ed (Corrie) is a good player. I was a little frustrated at the start, but I think I kept my composure really well at the end.”

The Bears raised their record to 23-5 and extended their win streak to 12-matches, while the Longhorns fell to 19-6. Baylor has now won 18 of its last 20 matches and improved to 28-6 all-time in Big 12 championship play.

ESPNEWS will air a NCAA Championships selection show on Tuesday, April 28 at approximately 4:20 p.m. Central. Texas is likely to be selected as a host of NCAA first- and second-round matches.

 

Baylor 4, Texas 3
Doubles – Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1

1 Galic/Rux (BU) def. Corrie/Damico (UT) – 8-6
2 Lukacs/Horny (BU) def. Kutrovsky/Zavala (UT) – 8-3
3 Reyes Varela/Sajous (UT) def. Mueller/Bley (BU) – 8-6

Singles – Order of Finish: 3, 4, 5, 1, 6, 2
1 Dimitar Kutrovsky (UT) def. Denes Lukacs (BU) – 6-4, 7-6 (1)
2 Jordan Rux (BU) def. Ed Corrie (UT) – 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
3 Kellen Damico (UT) def. Dominik Mueller (BU) -6-2, 6-1
4 Julian Bley (BU) def. Olivier Sajous (UT) – 6-4, 6-3
5 Attila Bucko (BU) def. Josh Zavala (UT) – 7-6, 6-1
6 Jonah Kane-West (UT) def. Maros Horny (BU) – 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

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