March 15, 2011
WACO, Texas - In an ending usually reserved for Hollywood, the 31st-ranked Baylor men's tennis team used a third-set tiebreak-win from junior Julian Bley to capture a 4-3 upset victory over No. 1 ranked Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon at the Baylor Tennis Center.
"It was a great effort from our guys," head coach Matt Knoll said. "I am proud of everybody. I thought we fought our tails off. We needed it. This I think added some proof to the belief. I am a big believer in faith, but it is nice to have something tangible to hold on to once in awhile."
Just four days after being beaten 6-1 by then No. 1 ranked Virginia, the Bears improved to 9-3 on the season and 8-2 at home. The win was Baylor's first-ever over a top-ranked team, after previously being 0-6 against No. 1 ranked teams in the Matt Knoll era.
To open the match Baylor built a 3-1 lead over the Volunteers on the strength of its 10th-straight doubles point win and singles victories from Roberto Maytin and Kike Grangeiro, before Tennessee responded to knot the match at three points apiece.
Attention then turned to the last match on as Bley was in the midst of a third-set comeback against Jarryd Chaplin on court No. 6. Bley had captured the first set, 6-2, before being beaten 6-1 in the second. In the third set, the BU junior fell down 3-1 and then 4-2, before capturing the next three games to take a 5-4 lead.
However as the other matches wrapped up, Chaplin tied the match at 5-5 and then went on to break Bley for a 6-5 advantage. With his back against the wall, Bley broke back and sent the match to a tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, Bley again battle back from behind to grab the 7-5 win.
"The whole time Julian was telling me that he was confident," Knoll said. "He has got a lot of belief in himself. His resiliency is just unbelievable. The thing about Julian is he is like a bad smell: he gets in there and you can't get him out. He got in there and he kept hanging around. You never saw one bit of disappointment. You never saw one bit of frustration. That was the difference. He was able to hang in there and find a way to win."
Bley, who was also celebrating his 23rd birthday on Tuesday, upped his record to 5-3 and extended his win streak to four matches.
However, Bley would once again be part of the heroics as he partnered with Kike Grangeiro to down Matteo Fago and Edward Jones, 8-6, to clinch the point for Baylor.
"We have gotten the doubles point, so much now that I think it is almost dangerous now," Knoll said. "You have to be a little careful about not making too much of it. That was an important point, but I think we got to keep focusing on finding a way to get four every time."
In singles action, Knoll altered his lineup removing Dennis Lengsfeld from the No. 3 spot, which shifted Rux, Maytin and Grangeiro up a spot and opened the No. 6 position for Bley.
"I just wasn't happy with our intangibles lately," Knoll said. "I just felt like we needed an intangible guy and Julian's always brought that. Sometimes it is not always the most beautiful ball-striking, but he tries his tail off all the time. I thought that would bleed over to our other guys and I think it did give us a lift."
Tennessee originally tied the match at 1-1 as the 44th-ranked Sandgren beat Rux, 6-1, 6-2. Just moments later, however, the 99th-ranked Grangeiro defeated Jones 6-2, 6-0 at the No. 5 spot to put Baylor back up. The 96th-ranked Maytin followed Grangeiro's lead as he bested No. 51 Fago, 6-4, 6-4, at the No. 4 spot to open up the 3-1 lead for Baylor.
"I thought Maytin did a great job," Knoll said. "Kike getting off so quickly was massive, so we had some good efforts out there."
The Volunteers would then get the next two points as the third-ranked Williams took down Ramirez 7-6(4), 6-0 and No. 12 Smith dropped the 27th-ranked Peers 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 at the top two spots to set the stage for Bley's heroics.
The loss dropped Tennessee to 14-2 and snapped its five-match win streak. The only other blemish on the Volunteers record was a 4-0 loss against then-No. 1 Virginia.
Baylor will now take on No. 28 Louisville on Thursday at the Baylor Tennis Center. First served is scheduled for 5 p.m.