On a roster of 10 players for the No. 4 Texas men’s tennis team, five of them played their last regular season match at Texas Tennis Center on Sunday, taking on the No. 6 Baylor Bears, who the Longhorns had beaten each of the past three years.
The seniors wouldn’t be denied a fourth and final win as Rodrigo Banzer and Colin Markes would win crucial matches to secure a 13–1 home record.
It was Markes, the senior from Austin, who clinched the match with a dominating comeback that saw him win 12 of the final 13 games, 2-6, 6-0, 6-1 over the Bears’ Sven Lah.
“I just had to dig really deep,” Markes said. “I just had to tell myself that this match could end up coming down to me and I don’t want to let anybody down. I don’t want let the school down, I don’t want to let my teammates down.”
The match would ultimately come down to Markes’ point after Baylor took the doubles point. Harrison Scott and Christian Sigsgaard fell to the No. 1 doubles pairing in the country, Lah and Jimmy Bendeck, while Will Little and Matias Soto took down Markes and Telles.
Scott and Telles dropped their singles matches, but fellow seniors Banzer and Markes picked up the slack while No. 6 Sigsgaard and No. 9 Yuya Ito secured the other two points for the win.
Texas interim head coach Bruce Berque stressed the impact the seniors’ leadership had on the match.
“It’s always a war when we play (Baylor),” Berque said. “To beat those guys ... is a testament to the seniors we have on our team and experience. (The seniors) have made my job so much easier this year. Because I’ve been able to focus more on just coaching their tennis and preparing them for their opponents ... I’d say it’s the strongest leadership we’ve had of any team I’ve coached in 25 years of coaching.”
Excluding the loss to No. 15 USC, this was the closest match the Longhorns found themselves in at home all year, giving the home crowd an unusual thriller for their final regular season match as Texas could potentially play host in the NCAA Regionals.
“This was the perfect thing you want as a coach— to beat a very good team on Senior Day and get the win but also see plenty of stuff that we can do much better,” Berque said. “This was the worst doubles we’ve played of the year.”
Berque stressed the importance of shoring up doubles play as the team hits the road to Fort Worth next Saturday to take on No. 9 TCU. Meanwhile, the hometown senior who clinched his last regular season match at home doesn’t seem to be worried.
“We’re very dangerous away,” Markes said. “We are a threat when we go to someone else’s house.”