After dropping a tightly contested doubles point, the seventh-seeded Baylor men’s tennis team dominated Texas A&M on the singles courts with four straight-set wins to reach the program’s eighth consecutive NCAA Quarterfinal in Norcross, Ga. The match, originally scheduled for the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., was moved to the Racquet Club of the South in Norcross due to rain.
“I thought the guys showed a lot of heart to battle back from a tough doubles match,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “In the locker room, we talked about coming out and not being satisified with any consolation prize. We wanted to come out here and win something, and the guys really bought into that.”
On the doubles courts, the matches set the tone for the day between the two Big 12 rivals. A&M took control early on Court 3, with an 8-3 win by Colin Hoover and Alberto Bautista over BU’s Dominik Mueller and Maros Horny, but battles were brewing on the other two courts.
On Court 1, the 28th-ranked duo of Denes Lukacs and Roberto Maytin took a 7-5 lead, but the fifth-ranked combo of Jeff Dadamo and Austin Krajicek took the next two points before the teams traded break-points to force a tiebreak at 8-8. The Bears jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the seven-point tiebreak and held on to win 7-4.
The doubles point also came down to a tiebreak on Court 2 with Baylor’s Attilo Bucko and Jordan Rux battling out of a 4-2 hole and tying the score at 5-5. The teams held serve to 8-8, then A&M’s Alexey Grigorov and Marcus Lunt seized control on their way to a 7-1 tiebreak win.
Down 1-0, the Bears seized the momentum on the first two courts, where Denes Lukacs and Jordan Rux were playing opponents each had lost to twice this season in Austin Krajicek and Jeff Dadamo. Lukacs, ranked 15th, came out firing and rolled to a 6-1, 6-2 win over sixth-ranked Krajicek. On Court 2, it was nearly the same story as Rux took down 39th-ranked Dadamo 6-3, 6-3.
Then on Courts 5 and 6, Maytin and Julian Bley each only lost three games in their way to wins. Maytin was the first Baylor player off the court with a 6-1, 6-2 win, while Bley was the match-clincher on No. 6 with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Lunt.
“We had a great season and I am proud of this team and what we accomplished,” said Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton whose team closed out the season with the second-most wins in school history and back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16. “Obviously, we didn’t want it to end like this. It looked hopeful for us after we won the doubles point, but Baylor was just too good tonight. They were more aggressive and a step ahead than we were. We continue to take steps in the right direction. We have a tremendous group of guys coming back next year. Hopefully, this learning experience is going to make us better. We might have played our better tennis a little earlier in the season, because we didn’t do as well down the stretch and a few of our guys were not at their best. Baylor got better towards the end of the season.”
Baylor, who proved that it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season, answered back by winning five out of the six first sets in singles. Newcomer Roberto Maytin defeated Alberto Bautista, 6-1, 6-2, at the No. 5 line to level the match at one-all. The Bears quickly followed with straight-set victories at the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 6 to advance to Sunday’s Elite Eight match with second-seeded Tennessee.
“There will be a lot soul searching after a match like this tonight – to figure out what went wrong, what we can do to get better and rise to the occasion at the right moments,” Denton said. “We did a lot of great things this year, but ultimately, there is only one team that holds up the prize at the end. We weren’t it this year. We just have to figure out a way to get closer to that prize and we will.”
The Bears will take on second-seeded Tennessee in the NCAA Quarterfinals at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 23 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. The Vols enter with a record of 28-1 after defeating Louisville 4-0 in the Round of 16. At the helm of the Tennessee men’s program is former Baylor assistant coach Sam Winterbotham
(8) BAYLOR 4, (10) TEXAS A&M 1
NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship
Round of 16
May 21, 2010
The Racquet Club of the South
at Norcross, Ga.
No. 1 – (14) Denes Lukacs (Baylor) def. (6) Austin Krajicek (Texas A&M), 6-1, 6-2.
No. 2 – (34) Jordan Rux (Baylor) def. (39) Jeff Dadamo (Texas A&M), 6-3, 6-3.
No. 3 – Alexey Grigorov (Texas A&M) vs. Attila Bucko (Baylor), 6-2, 3-2, DNF.
No. 4 – Alexis Klegou (Texas A&M) vs. Dominik Mueller (Baylor), 6-7 (8), DNF.
No. 5 – Roberto Maytin (Baylor) def. Alberto Bautista (Texas A&M), 6-1, 6-2.
No. 6 – Julian Bley (Baylor) def. Marcus Lunt (Texas A&M), 6-2, 6-1.
No. 1 – (28) Denes Lukacs-Roberto Maytin (Baylor) def. (5) Jeff Dadamo-Austin Krajicek (Texas A&M), 9-8 (4).
No. 2 – (34) Alexey Grigorov-Marcus Lunt (Texas A&M) def. Attila Bucko-Jordan Rux (Baylor), 9-8 (1).
No. 3 – Alberto Bautista-Colin Hoover (Texas A&M) def. Maros Horny-Dominik Mueller (Baylor), 8-3.
ORDER OF FINISH
Singles: 5, 1, 2, 6*
Doubles: 3, 1, 2