Baylor Falters Against No. 2 UCLA, 6-1
WACO, Texas - Despite clinching the doubles point, the 38th-ranked Baylor men's tennis team was unable to secure any singles points en route to dropping a 6-1 decision vs. No. 2 UCLA on Sunday at the Hurd Tennis Center.
"We have a lot of opportunities to grow from this," head coach Matt Knoll said. "If we take it as learners and make improvements then it has been a fantastic day. It is still March and we have a long way to go. We now have to bounce back tomorrow and play a little better."
The loss snapped an eight-match win streak for the Bears, while dropping their season record to 10-2. UCLA improved to 13-1 with the win and closed the overall series record vs. BU to 7-5.
On a windy day in Waco, the Bears got out to a quick start. Marko Krickovic and Diego Galeano powered past Dennis Mkrtchian and Alex Brigham, 8-3, at the No. 3 doubles position to open the contest. The pair of Bears is now 4-0 on the season.
The Bruins answered back as Adrien Puget and Karue Sell handed the 53rd-ranked duo of Patrick Pradella and Julian Lenz its first loss of the season, 8-5.
With the doubles point in the balance Mate Zsiga and Tony Lupieri improved to 4-1 as a tandem by downing the 54th-ranked pair of Dennis Novikov and Marcos Giron, 8-4, to clinch the doubles point for BU.
Baylor has won the doubles point in 10 of its last 11 matches this season and overall Baylor is 26-4 in doubles contests.
As singles started the momentum quickly shifted in UCLA's favor. Sell dispatched of Galeano at the No. 6 spot, 6-1, 6-1, and Clay Thompson bested the 77th-ranked Krickovic, 6-2, 6-2, in the No. 5 position to grab the overall match lead, 2-1.
"You just aren't going to win these kind of matches losing like we did at the bottom of the lineup," Knoll said. "All the credit goes to UCLA they bounced back after doubles and really put it to us."
In total the Bruins claimed five of six first-sets in singles action. BU's lone first-set win came from Zsiga, who was poised to tie the match at two points apiece. The 78th-ranked sophomore held a 6-2, 5-2 lead over the 54th-ranked Mkrtchian at the fourth spot in the lineup, but the Bruin battled back to push the match to a third set.
"Momentum is important in these dual matches and we had a chance to get some and we left it on the table," Knoll said. "To their guy's credit, he really picked it up as the match wore on and deserved to win."
With BU's momentum stunted UCLA collected wins on courts 2, 1 and 3, respectively.
First, the 10th-ranked Giron downed No. 122 Pradella, 7-5, 6-2, before the 35th-ranked Novikov clinched the match for the Bruins with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Lenz at the top of the lineup. It was the first loss in dual-match play for the Baylor freshman, who had started his career 6-0.
To reach the final margin No. 20 Puget downed Lupieri, 6-2, 7-5 and Mkrtchian came all the way back to claim the 2-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(2) win over Zsiga.
The Bears will now look to rebound against No. 1 Virginia. BU hosts the Cavaliers (7-0) at 3 p.m. on Monday at the Hurd Tennis Center.