March 11, 2010
LOS ANGELES- The 16th-ranked men's tennis team upset the eighth-ranked UCLA Bruins, 4-3, at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Thursday afternoon in its first match against a top 10-ranked opponent this season.
"I think this validates all of the hard work we have been doing," head coach Matt Knoll said. "We think we have a chance to be pretty good. It was nice to go out and get a big win to show some evidence of that. Faith is great, but it is nice to have some evidence."
The win raises Baylor's spring record to 11-2 and gives the Bears a six-match win streak, their longest streak of the season.
Baylor got off to a slow start by dropping the doubles point. It was only the third time all season that the Bears have dropped the opening point and the first time that they have rebounded to take the match.
UCLA's No. 1 pairing of Haythem Abid and Holden Seguso got the Bruins started on the right foot by taking down the 17th-ranked duo of Maros Horny and Jordan Rux, 8-5. The Baylor pair falls to 4-2 in dual match play. The Bruins third spot tandem of Alex Brigham and Matt Brooklyn then finished off the 45th-ranked duo of Julian Bley and Attila Bucko, 8-6, to give the Bruins the doubles point. Denes Lukacs and Roberto Maytin did claim the No. 2 doubles match over Amit Inbar and Nick Meister, 8-5. Bley and Bucko fall to 6-2 in dual match play, while Lukacs and Maytin are now 5-0 in spring play.
"Every time we have lost the doubles this year we felt like we should have won it and today was no exception," Knoll said. "The guys did a great job to be resilient and popping back out there and fighting hard. We were able to capture the momentum of the match after that."
Baylor responded to the challenge of losing the doubles point as the 22nd-ranked Lukacs (11-0) made quick work of No. 40 Abid at the No. 1 spot, 6-3, 6-3. The Bruins then climbed back ahead as the 92nd-ranked Inbar toppled Maytin (5-3) at the No. 5 position 6-0, 7-5.
"Any time you have a guy up there doing what he is doing, it really trickles down to everybody else," Knoll said of Lukacs. "It is great to have any position that gets off quick, but to have the guy that is doing it at that position is even more valuable. He has just been real focused, real disciplined and that showed through today."
However, Baylor once again answered back as senior Dominik Mueller (11-1) won his 10th straight match with a 6-4, 6-3 straight sets win over Seguso at the four spot. For the first time all day, Baylor took the lead as No. 28 Rux dropped 50th-ranked Brooklyn, 6-4, 7-5 at the two spot to move his record to 8-1.
Bley then clinched the match for the Bears at the No. 6 position, taking down Maxime Tabatruong 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Bley, who is now 6-0 in dual match play, was up 5-0 in the third set before losing four straight games to make things interesting before closing out the match. The Bears are 6-0 since Bley was inserted in the lineup on Feb. 24 against No. 19 Alabama.
"He has been unbelievable," Knoll said of Bley. "He played some very good tennis in the third set to go up 5-0, but then he got tentative. He was waiting for the guy to lose and that allowed the guy to play better. Then it got kind of dicey there, he lost four games in a row, but he did a good job on the four-five change over of deciding he was going to play more a little more offense."
With the match decided, 118th-ranked Meister got past Bucko at the third sport 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to drop the senior's dual match record to 7-2 in spring play.
UCLA falls to 7-4 on the season, after having won four of its previous five. Baylor improves to 6-2 all-time against the Bruins with the Bears taking four of the last five meetings. In the eight meetings between Baylor and UCLA in the last seven years, six of the eight contests have resulted in a 4-3 score.
UCLA, marks the highest ranked opponent that Baylor has defeated since knocking off fourth-ranked Stanford on March 24, 2009.
The Bears will now travel to Malibu, Calif., on Saturday to face the 24th-ranked Pepperdine Waves at 2 p.m. Live results of that match can be found on Baylorbears.com courtesy of Pepperdinesports.com.
"We got to get excited about going to Pepperdine," Knoll said. "They got a young team. They are playing well right now. They beat Duke 6-1 yesterday. They are playing much better than they were earlier in the year. It is a tough place to play. I just told the guys when you come over the canyon and see Malibu beach, Pepperdine is up 1-0. Guys get all distracted about hoping to see actresses and going to the beach. It is hard to stay on track. It is a very different environment. We got to try to be mature enough to put that aside and go out there and play a tough match."
Match Notes: Baylor improves to 14-9 in the state of California during Matt Knoll's 13+ years as head coach. The Bears also improve to 237-86 against ranked opponents and 38-36 against top 10-ranked opponents under Knoll. Baylor has won 26 of its last 29 matches.