No. 7 Virginia men’s tennis finished its toughest stretch of the regular season by dropping two games against No. 3 Baylor and No. 4 Texas Christian this weekend. The Cavaliers (5-3, 0-0 ACC) will look to learn from these losses and rebound as the beginning of conference play looms.
Virginia headed to Waco, Tex. for its first stop Saturday, where it fell 4-2 to an extremely talented Baylor (11-0, 0-0 Big 12) team. The Bears started off by taking the doubles point, as well as defeating graduate student Jackson Allen and sophomore Alexander Kiefer on their singles courts.
After falling behind 3-0, the Cavaliers battled back, with sophomores Jeffrey von der Schulenberg and Chris Rodesch picking up singles victories in straight sets on their courts to put Virginia right back in the match.
Senior Ryan Goetz battled in a back and forth matchup contest against senior Sven Lah, looking to tie the match up. After losing the first set 7-5, Goetz fired back with a 6-0 victory in the second set. However, Lah responded well, winning the final set 6-1 in order to clinch the match for Baylor and end any hopes of a comeback.
Sophomore Iñaki Montes was up 5-2 in a tiebreaker for the second set before play was stopped, so this match was actually much closer than the scoreboard would read.
“I was proud of the way our team competed today,” Coach Andres Peroso said. “[The Bears] are a great team and there’s a very good chance we will see them again down the road.”
The Cavaliers had very little time to worry about the loss, as they faced a short turnaround before squaring off against an equally difficult Horned Frogs (8-1, 0-0 Big 12) team the very next day.
Unfortunately, fatigue from the recent competition might have been a factor for Virginia in this match. Similar to Baylor, Texas Christian took the doubles point early, defeating the teams of graduate student Bar Botzer with Rodesch and Montes with Goetz. In singles, the Horned Frogs were first able to defeat Botzer in two sets, both by a score of 6-4.
After going behind 2-0, Schulenberg looked to swing the momentum for the Cavaliers, picking up a win against junior Sander Jong after winning the tiebreaker in the second set. Rodesch won the second set in his matchup after narrowly losing the first set, looking to tie the match. However, his opponent held him off in the third set, winning 6-3.
Texas Christian sealed the match with a straight sets win on court five against Goetz, handing Virginia its third straight loss and giving the team plenty to think about before the beginning of conference play.
Despite the losing streak, the Cavaliers have now played through the most difficult part of their schedule, and they now have plenty of time to grow and develop together before they potentially run into one or more of these teams come tournament time. They are still very much in contention for a conference championship, and the entire season remains ahead of them.
However, before their conference opener, the Cavaliers will head to Seattle, Wash. for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships being held Friday to Monday. The bracket for the tournament will be released in the coming days.