Baylor retains HP Cup, tops Stanford, 4-3

Attila Bucko’s three-set victory gave the 11th-ranked men’s tennis team the point it was looking for as the Bears pulled off a 4-3 upset of seventh-ranked Stanford on Tuesday afternoon at the Taube Family Tennis Center.

“It is huge,” head coach Matt Knoll said of the win. “To be able to come out here to California and get through that match is really good for our team. We feel like we are improving. It absolutely does make us feel more confident. We feel like we are rounding into shape. It is exciting, because there is a lot of enthusiasm in that group and that is infectious.”

The win improves Baylor’s record to 16-3, while earning the Bears fourth straight win in the HP Cup series versus the storied Stanford program. The Cardinal falls to 11-4 on the season, after coming into the match with a four-match win streak. In the match, Baylor also got its second victory of the year over a top-10 program after also knocking off No. 8 UCLA by a 4-3 score on March 11 in Los Angeles.

Overall, Baylor has never lost to Stanford, now holding a 10-0 record over the Cardinal in a series that dates back to 1999. In the three previous meetings of the HP Cup, Baylor edged fourth-ranked Stanford 4-3 last year, recorded a 5-2 victory over No. 40 Stanford in 2008 and earned a 7-0 sweep of the 27th-ranked Cardinal in 2007.

The HP Cup is a yearly meeting between the two schools that is sponsored by the Hewlett-Packard Company. The company’s CEO, Mark Hurd, attended Baylor in the 1970’s and played tennis for the university. The company’s main offices are located in Palo Alto, Calif., near Stanford’s campus.

The Bears’ got off to a great start in doubles as the No. 2 team of Denes Lukacs and Roberto Maytin dismantled the 31st-ranked team in the nation of Alex Clayton and Richard Wire, 8-0. Lukacs and Maytin improve to 9-2 in the spring season and have now won three straight.

“We felt like that could be a pretty good team, they have just been horrifically inconsistent,” Knoll said of his No. 2 doubles squad. “They just dialed in and played every point and played an exceptional match. Unfortunately, we did not capitalize on it by winning the doubles point.”

However, as Lukacs and Maytin were walking off the courts, Baylor’s two other doubles tandems were both trailing in their matches, 5-2. In the end the Bears were unable to overcome the large deficit as the No. 3 team of Julian Bley and Maros Horny fell to Denis Lin and Matt Kandath, 8-4. In only third match together this spring the Baylor duo suffered its first loss.

The Baylor twosome at the No. 1 spot made things interesting by cutting its 5-2 disadvantage to 6-4, but the top-ranked duo in the latest ITA doubles listings of Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher outlasted Jordan Rux and Attila Bucko, 8-5, to give the Cardinal the doubles point. Rux and Bucko fall to 2-2 in dual match play.

Baylor has now lost four out of the last seven doubles points after starting the year 10-2 in that category. However, by winning the match the Bears evened their record at 3-3 when losing the first point.

“Our whole thing is you have to look ahead,” Knoll said. “We were disappointed we didn’t win the doubles, but once it is over you just have to look ahead. We understood we had to come out with a sense of urgency, because our backs were against the wall.”

In singles, Baylor responded to the challenge quickly as Dominik Mueller, at the No. 5 position, dispatched of Lin 6-4, 6-1 to knot the match at one point apiece. The 32nd-ranked Rux, playing at the two spot, kept the momentum going for the Bears as he beat 45th-ranked Alex Clayton 6-3, 6-3. Mueller moved his record to 14-3, while Rux is now 13-2.

“Both guys played great,” Knoll said. “Both beat great opponents. Alex Clayton had beaten Jordan in the past a couple of times, so Jordan felt he had a lot to prove and he came out and played a great match.

“Dominik had an incredibly tight first set, but once he got through that he was able to race to the finish line in the second, which was the first match off, so it gave us some great momentum.”

The fifth-ranked player in the country, Klahn, would then give the Cardinal a lift by taking down 19th-ranked Lukacs 7-6 (3), 6-3 to once again tie the match. Lukacs falls to 13-3 and has lost two of his last four.

Maytin, then proceeded to win his fifth straight match to put Baylor on the brink of victory. The freshman got past Wire 6-1, 7-6 (5) to improve to 10-3.

“Roberto has got himself in shape,” Knoll said. “He is a great competitor. He is a really good guy and has really bought into the team concept. He has just taken off like a rocket right now. We are excited to see how good he can get over the remaining course of the year.”

The Bears would seal the victory at the No. 3 spot as the 109th-ranked Bucko claimed the three-set victory over No. 93 Thacher 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. The senior now owns a 12-2 record and a five match win streak.

“It was like a lot of matches,” Knoll said of Bucko’s contest. “They kind of go back and forth. I think that his opponent played way better in the second set then he did in the first and really took it to Attila. Then in the third, it was just kind of a battle of wills and Attila was just fortunate to hold it together. He showed a lot of fight to get it done.”

With the match decided, Bley dropped a 7-5, 7-6 (5) decision to Greg Hirschman. It was the second loss for the sophomore, who fell to 10-2 in the dual match season.

“We are just getting better,” Knoll said. “We are just clarifying our roles and understanding what we are supposed to be doing. We still have a lot of improving to do, if we are going to achieve some of our goals down the road.”

The Bears will now start conference play in search of their 10th Big 12 title on April 7 against Texas A&M in College Station, Texas at 6 p.m.

Match Notes: Baylor improves to 16-9 in the state of California during Matt Knoll’s 13+ years as head coach. The Bears also improve to 241-87 against ranked opponents and 39-36 against top 10-ranked opponents under Knoll. Baylor has won 31 of its last 35 matches.

#11 Baylor Bears 4, #7 Stanford 3
March 30, 2010 at Stanford, Calif.
(Taube Family Tennis Center)
Singles Competition
1. #5 Bradley Klahn (STAN) def. #19 Denes Lukacs (BU) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3
2. #32 Jordan Rux (BU) def. #45 Alex Clayton (STAN) 6-3, 6-3
3. #109 Attila Bucko (BU) def. #93 Ryan Thacher (STAN) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
4. Roberto Maytin (BU) def. Richard Wire (STAN) 6-1, 7-6 (7-5)
5. Dominik Mueller (BU) def. Denis Lin (STAN) 6-4, 6-1
6. Greg Hirshman (STAN) def. Julian Bley (BU) 7-5, 7-6 (7-5)

Doubles competition
1. #1 Bradley Klahn/Ryan Thacher (STAN) def. Attila Bucko/Jordan Rux (BU) 8-5
2. Denes Lukacs/Roberto Maytin (BU) def. #31 Alex Clayton/Richard Wire (STAN) 8-0
3. Matt Kandath/Denis Lin (STAN) def. Julian Bley/Maros Horny (BU) 8-4

Match Notes:
Baylor Bears 16-3; National ranking #11
Stanford 11-4; National ranking #7
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (5,2,1,4,3,6)

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