March 25, 2009
The 10th-ranked Baylor men's tennis team squeaked out a 4-3, upset of the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal, Tuesday evening at the Baylor Tennis Center and kept the HP Cup in Waco for a third straight year. Baylor needed the last match on the court to finish off Stanford, where freshman Maros Horny
came from behind to beat Blake Muller in three sets 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-2 to give the Bears the coveted final fourth point.
"It was the best match we have played all season," Baylor head coach Matt Knoll said. "It was exciting at every spot. Every match was tough. That is what you expect to see when you have two great teams. They are a great program. You saw it again tonight; they were tough at every spot and made it rough on us. We were fortunate to get through it."
The defeat of No. 4 Stanford is the highest opponent the Bears have defeated since knocking off No. 2 Virginia, 6-1 on March 17, 2007.
The win continued 11 years of dominance by Baylor over the storied Stanford program. Baylor has never lost to Stanford, holding a 9-0 record over the Cardinal in a series that dates back to 1998.
"The undefeated thing with Stanford is really kind of weird," Knoll said. "They are so good and have such a tradition. It has got to be a little bit of luck to do that against them. One of the reason we have played well is we have so much respect for them. We have really always prepared well when we play them."
In the two previous meetings of the HP Cup, Baylor recorded a 5-2 victory over No. 40 Stanford in California last year and earned a 7-0 sweep of the 27th-ranked Cardinal in 2007. The HP Cup is a yearly meeting between the two schools that is sponsored by the Hewlett-Packard Company. The company's CEO, Mark Hurd, attended Baylor in the 1970's and played tennis for the university.
The Bears now own a 14-5 dual match record and are 12-1 at the Baylor Tennis Center this season. The Bears have only lost to No. 10 USC, 4-3 at home this season.
The win was also the 300th of Matt Knoll's career at Baylor. In 13+ seasons Knoll has amassed 300 wins to only 75 losses, a wining percentage of .800.
In doubles' play, Baylor got off to a great start as the Bears swept the Cardinal in all three matches. First off the court was the No. 3 team of Julian Bley and Dominik Mueller, who defeated Matt Bruch and Muller 8-5. The duo is now 5-1 when partnered together. Baylor had to really battle in the last two matches to scratch out the needed victories. At No. 1 doubles, Jordan Rux and David Galic fell behind 5-1, before winning seven of the next nine points to force a match tie-breaker. In the tiebreaker the pair continued to roll winning 9-7 and securing the match, 9-8, to give the doubles point to the Bears. Galic and Rux are 5-3 when paired together. The No. 2 doubles team of Denes Lukacs and Maros Horny, also won 9-8, winning their tie-breaker 7-3. Lukacs and Horny are 7-3 this fall.
"Those guys fought back at one down two breaks, what a difference that makes when they keep battling and fighting," Knoll said. "Sometimes when you battle good things happen and you end up winning a tie-breaker. You really change the dynamic of the team match when you keep yourself out there and give yourself a chance."
The hotly contested doubles matches were only a prelude for what was to come in singles. Stanford quickly knotted the match at one as No. 113 Richard Wire dispatched of Attila Bucko 6-4, 6-4. From there the match would see-saw back and forth as Baylor won at No. 4 when Mueller took care of Burch, 7-6(7-4), 6-3. Stanford crawled back into the match with a win at No. 2 as 53rd-ranked Bradley Klahn beat David Galic 6-3, 7-6(7-3). ITA All-American and sixth-ranked Lukacs put the Bears back in front as he beat No. 13 Alex Clayton 7-6(8-6), 6-3. The Cardinal then responded by posting a win a No. 3 singles as Ryan Thacher beat Julian Bley, 7-6(7-1), 6-4. That is when the audience's eyes, the spotlights, and the cameras shifted to Horny, who found in himself up 3-0 in a third set. The freshman calmly delivered a come from behind 6-7(5-7), 6-4, 6-2 win that clinched it for the Bears. At one point early in the singles match, three of the six contests were in set tiebreakers.
"I could not be more pleased with his ability to stay the course and stay tough and come through with a big win for us," Knoll said of Horny. "He was hitting his shots. He wasn't waiting for the other guy to lose. He was out there going after the guy, being assertive and taking his chances."
For the third straight match, sophomore Jordan Rux did not play in singles for the Bears. Rux is 8-7 in matches this season with 14 of those contests coming at the No. 2 singles slot. Freshman Bley moved back into the singles line-up after being replaced by returning senior Galic, who was injured earlier in the year.
"We are fortunate here to have a lot of guys that can play tennis," Knoll said. "If a guy is not being productive we just have to make the decision to get him out of there. It turned out to be just a fantastic choice tonight because Julian (Bley) was tough as nails. Julian, he didn't win his match, but he gave us exactly the stuff we needed: nothing negative out of the guy all night, so energized. What a breath of fresh air to have him out there playing."
Stanford is now 12-2 on the season with their only other loss coming at the hands of No. 3 Georgia.
The match will be televised six times on Fox College Sports with play-by-play by Derek Smith and color analysis from Baylor women's coach Joey Scrivano. The first airing of the match will be on March 29 at 4 p.m. with another broadcast at 1 a.m. on March 30. The next airing will be at 10:30 p.m. on March 31, followed by a 2:30 p.m. showing on April 1. The final two broadcasts of the match will be on April 2 at 1 p.m. and April 4 at 8 a.m. Fox College Sports is found on channel 430 for Time Warner Customers in Waco and channel 227 for Grande customers in the area.
Later this week Baylor will host No. 54 Virginia Commonwealth on Friday, March 27 at 3 p.m. and No. 17 Pepperdine will come to town on Sunday, March 29 at 1 p.m.
Match Notes: The Cardinal was the Bears' seventh top-10 ranked opponent of the season. Baylor is 3-4 in those seven matches. Tonight, Baylor played the seventh contest of a nine match home stand that has seen Baylor go 6-1. The Bears are now also 32-22 in doubles matches this spring. The Bears are 10-1 when they win the doubles point, but just 4-4 when they fall in doubles. The Bears are now 73-37 in singles matches.