NORMAN, Okla. - The 13th-ranked Baylor men's tennis team lost the doubles point and four of six first sets in singles and ultimately fell 4-2 vs. No. 14 Oklahoma in the final of the Big 12 Championship on Sunday at the Headington Family Tennis Center.
"I think there are a lot of things that got us behind the eight ball and some are things that have to do with Oklahoma being a really good team, and some have to do with things that we need to do better internally," head coach Matt Knoll said. "You want to play good competition and we did. If you don't get pushed, you don't learn things about yourself unless you are paying a good team like Oklahoma. Unfortunately sometimes when you learn some things about yourself it doesn't feel good. Today it didn't feel good."
The Sooners got things started in doubles action with No. 74 Guillermo Alcorta and Axel Alvarez Llamas' 8-4 victory on court two over Patrick Pradella and Roberto Maytin. Oklahoma was able to score a break point in the second game to go up 1-2, and secured their second break point later in the match to go up 7-4, before serving it out for the win.
Baylor knotted the doubles point at one match apiece as 76th-ranked Diego Galeano and Mate Zsiga secured an 8-6 upset victory on court one over the 36th-ranked pairing of Costin Paval and Dane Webb. The Bears had recorded the match's only break point and then held serve to go up 5-3 when the match on court one wrapped up. Both teams continued to hold serve for the 8-6 final.
Attention turned to court three where Tony Lupieri and Julian Lenz were ahead 8-7 in their match with Nick Papac and Lawrence Formentera. The Sooners fought back to tie the match at eight all to send it to a tiebreaker. The Bears got up 5-1 in the race to get to seven points, but the Sooners rallied to win eight of the next nine points for an 8-6 tiebreak win. That result gave OU the match 9-8(6) and the doubles point.
The loss was the first doubles point loss for the Bears against a conference opponent this season, and was the first since losing it vs. No. 15 California on March 26.
"I think the doubles point loss sort of motivated us," Knoll said. "We learned a lot today. We were put in a championship environment and I think it was a great opportunity and I think we will get a lot out of it. We will be better for it and now we have a couple weeks now to go back and get ready for what is ahead and we will make up for this."
Galeano fired back on court five with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Leonard Stakhovsky to tie the match at 1-1. He has now won eight straight matches and improves his season record to 18-4, and a perfect 13-0 when playing in the five spot.
No. 30 Pradella followed with a 6-2, 6-4 victory on court one over No. 19 Paval to give the Bears a 2-1 advantage in the match. Pradella's win avenged an earlier match between the two where Paval defeated Pradella 6-3, 6-3.
Oklahoma struck back on court two where No. 58 Alcorta defeated No.76 Zsiga 6-4, 6-0 to even the match at two all. OU then picked up their third point on court six with a 7-6(3), 6-3 Papac victory over Maytin.
Baylor had just pushed the match to a third set on court five, and held a 2-1 lead in the second set on court three when Oklahoma claimed their third match point.
Alvarez Llamas clinched the match winning point for the Sooners on court three, getting past No. 51 Lenz, 7-6 (5), 6-2.
The Bears still hold a 4-3 advantage over the Sooners in Big 12 Championship play, but have lost the last three matches against the Sooners in postseason play including last season's 4-3 loss in the finals. All-time vs. the Sooners, Baylor is 19-18, while Matt Knoll is 18-5 vs. OU. In Big 12 Championship play, Baylor falls to 32-10.
Baylor has now been to 12 Big 12 Championship finals and holds a 7-5 record in those matches.
The Bears will host a watch party on Tuesday at the Stone Room in the Ferrell Center during the NCAA selection show. The men's selection show will get underway at 4 p.m. with the Bears being a likely candidate to be a first and second round host site.
To stay up to date with the team all season follow @BaylorMTennis on Twitter.