May 12, 2017
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Baylor tennis has had years when the Bears weren't really pushed at all in NCAA Championship first-round matches.
Friday's matchup against Lamar was no walk in the park.
The fourth-seeded Cardinals (17-8) went toe-to-toe at No. 1 doubles against the 22nd-ranked duo of Juan Benitez and Will Little and won sets on two of the six singles courts. But ultimately, the Bears (22-8) had too much firepower, advancing with a 4-0 win at the Hurd Tennis Center.
"It's a great thing," Baylor coach Matt Knoll said of his team getting pushed. "You see some of the 4 seeds around the country that aren't every strong, frankly. These guys are pretty strong. . . . We knew they would be pretty good. We played them earlier in the season, and the reason we played them is we knew they were a tough team up and down the lineup. They have some physicality, some guys that make a lot of balls, and that was good for us."
Top-seeded in Waco and the overall No. 7 seed nationally, Baylor will play 26th-ranked Cornell (22-3) at 4 p.m. Saturday with a berth in the Round of 16 on the line. The Big Red knocked off No. 43 Rice, 4-0, in the other first-round matchup.
"Second round of the NCAAs, everybody is good. You're not going to get any easy matches in that round," Knoll said. "Another conference champion, a team that's won a lot of matches. Won against a team in our league that's very good (Oklahoma). They're going to be confident and they're going to be good and it's going to be a big challenge."
Other than the No. 1 spot, Baylor's doubles lineup went through a complete makeover.
With freshman Bjoern Peterson returning from the sidelines for the first time in 3 ½ months, he teamed with senior Max Tchoutakian at the No. 2 spot for a 6-2 win over the Cardinals' Michael Feucht and Benny Schweizer.
"I think it was very hard today, because we changed the lineup 10 minutes before (the match)," said Frantzen, who has played No. 3 doubles with Tchoutakian through most of the dual-match season. "I had never played before with Johannes, but we did a good job. I think it's because we were speaking German."
Knoll said he wanted to "make something happen" at No. 3 doubles.
"The dynamic has changed some, so we're trying to sort how we're going to do that," he said.
Baylor took control in singles, winning five of the six first sets. But, Lamar's Sebastain Santibanez dominated Petersen in a first-set tiebreaker, 7-0, and Feucht split sets with the 15th-ranked Benitez at No. 1 singles.
Since it was Petersen's first action since Feb. 3, Knoll said he "saw exactly what I expected to see out of him."
"He was really nervous, it was a windy day, a tough day to play, and he played a guy that made a gazillion balls," Knoll said. "So, that's a tough thing. The other guy served for the set, Bjoern broke him back, competed hard, didn't play a very good tiebreaker. But, I think as the match was going on, he was going to play better and better. It was great that he got a match under his belt, and again against a guy that could play tennis. The guy was tough on him."
Playing on side-by-side courts at Nos. 5 and 3, respectively, Little and Schretter finished their matches within at most a minute apart. Little cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 win over Schweizer, then Schretter gave the Bears a 3-0 lead by beating Jeandre Hoogenboezem, 6-1, 6-3.
"It's OK to start a little bit slow as long as you finish all right, so I thought it was OK," Little said. "I hadn't played in almost two weeks, and it was a little windy. But, I'm hitting the ball great."
With some work left to do on the other three remaining courts, Frantzen left nothing to chance, closing it out with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Laitenen at No. 6.
Knoll started out on the end with Little and Schretter, but "they got off to a great start and there wasn't really much for me to do down there," he said. "They were really in command. So, I went down to the other end and tried to work Bjoern a little bit."
"One of the things is you just can't expect to play your best tennis on a day like today," said Knoll, whose team is trying to get back to the Round of 16 after missing out last year. "The conditions were not easy, and they did a good job of managing that."
Live video streaming, scoring and an in-match blog for Saturday's match are available at www.baylorbears.com.
WACO, Texas -- The seventh-ranked and seventh-seeded Baylor men's tennis team blanked Lamar, 4-0, in the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Championships on a windy Friday afternoon at the Hurd Tennis Center.
The win advanced Baylor (22-7) to the second round of the NCAA Championship for the 16th-straight season and the 18th-time overall in program history. The victory also snapped a three-match losing streak for the Bears and closed out Lamar's season at 17-8.
In doubles, Max Tchoutakian and Bjoern Petersen rolled through Michael Feucht and Benny Schweizer, 6-2, at the No. 2 spot to give BU the early advantage. Johannes Schretter and Constantin Franzten clinched the opening point for the Bears by edging Juuso Laitinen and Logan Powell, 7-5, on court three.
Baylor was even more dominant in singles where they earned three straight-set wins to clinch the match.
First, Will Little polished off Schweizer on court five, 6-3, 6-3. Moments later, the 63rd-ranked Schretter powered past Jeandre Hoogenboezem, 6-1, 6-3, at the No. 3 spot, to put the Bears on the brink of victory.
To close out the match, freshman Constantin Frantzen bested Laitinen, 6-3, 6-3 at the bottom of the singles lineup.
Baylor advances to the NCAA 2nd round for the 16th-straight season and 18th-time overall.
Baylor is 54-18 (.750) all-time in NCAA Championship play.
BU is 18-2 in first round matches.
The Bears are 10-2 in home matches in 2017.
Baylor is 25-0 when hosting first and second round NCAA Championship action and 27-1 all-time in NCAA matches in Waco.
BU is 18-11 in doubles points and 17-1 in matches when winning the doubles point this year.
The Bears have won 9-straight matches over Lamar and lead the all-time series 10-4.
TOP QUOTE #1
"Lamar is a pretty strong team. We knew that they would be pretty good. They have some physicality, some guys that make a lot of balls and I thought the challenge was good for us. It is now the second round of the NCAAs. Everyone is good. You are not going to get easy matches. Cornell is another conference champion that has won a lot of matches. They are going to be confident. They are going to be good and it is going to be a big challenge." - head coach Matt Knoll on the victory and looking forward to second round
TOP QUOTE #2
"Will and Johannes both got off to great starts in singles. Will has been around. He knows what the deal is. He came out and did a really nice job. You can't expect to play your best tennis on a day like today. The conditions were not easy and they did a good job of just managing that." - Knoll on singles play
Baylor will now face No. 26 Cornell in second round action Saturday at 4 p.m. at Hurd Tennis Center. The Big Red swept No. 43 Rice, 4-0, on Friday to advance to the second round. Live scoring and live video for the match will be available on BaylorBears.com, along with a live blog.
To stay current on all things Baylor Tennis, follow the team on Twitter: @BaylorMTennis.