Texas returns to conference play tonight as the Longhorns host Baylor at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center at 6 p.m., and the Bears should be a stiff challenge for the Longhorns.
Baylor, ranked No. 8, started the season slow, but has since won 11 of its last 12 games. Four of the Bears’ wins this season have been 7-0 sweeps, with their most recent against Nebraska on Saturday.
Texas got the season off to a hot start by winning its first eight matches. Whereas the Bears are coming into this match on a five-match win streak, Texas hasn’t been performing as well. The Longhorns lost four of six matches before winning their last two against Oklahoma State and Rice.
The Bears have a top-10 duo that will try to match Texas’ No. 3 tandem of senior Ed Corrie and junior Jean Andersen. Texas will have the advantage in doubles; along with Corrie and Andersen, Texas has two more teams ranked in the top 60, topping Baylor’s two in the top 100. Texas has routinely won the doubles point this season, often getting the early lead in its matches.
Texas holds the advantage in doubles, but Baylor has the edge in singles. Senior John Peers leads the Bears with a No. 18 ranking. He leads three other Baylor players ranked in the top 100, topping Texas’ three.
Singles has consistently been the main area of concern for Texas this season, with many of their losses coming at the singles end after claiming the doubles point. Last week against Rice, senior Kellen Damico played in the No. 1 slot, with Corrie playing at No. 2. Whoever plays in the No. 1 spot against Baylor will have to take on one of the top singles players in the conference, but the second spot will be a key point as well. Both Corrie and Damico are both ranked higher than Baylor’s second singles player, so with Peers expected to take the point from the No. 1 spot, the No. 2 spot will need to take its point for Texas to hold serve in singles. If the Longhorns are going to come away with a win from this match, they will need to be at their best against a strong singles lineup from Baylor.
With an in-conference loss to Oklahoma already, Texas cannot afford to lose another Big 12 match if it wants to stay in the hunt for the regular season title. Texas is currently 1-1 in conference play and trails both Texas A&M and Baylor at 2-0 each. The Longhorns can earn at least a share of the regular season title by winning out, which includes tonight’s match against the Bears.