With the match tied at three in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, all eyes focused on court six and the battle between Baylor’s Jessica Hinojosa and Texas A&M’s Macarena Olivares.
Olivares won the first set 7-6 in a tiebreaker, and Hinojosa fought to win the second 7-5.
But despite her best effort, Hinojosa couldn’t get things done in the third set as Olivares’ 6-4 win gave Texas A&M the 4-3 victory Sunday afternoon at the Hurd Tennis Center.
“Jess has battled the entire season,” coach Joey Scrivano said. “As a freshman you can’t really ask much more of her. She battled back in the first set and got it close then won the second. She put herself in position to win in the third. She’s a freshman. She’s going to keep growing and improving. She was matched up against a more experienced player. Unfortunately usually experience wins. That was the case today.”
Baylor’s second round loss dropped the Lady Bears to 21-1 when hosting NCAA Championship first and second round action.
It was also the first loss at home for the Baylor women’s tennis team this season.
“Ultimately you have to give credit to Texas A&M,” coach Joey Scrivano said. “They’re a great team. They’re very experienced. They have another gear. They put it into another gear today. They outcompeted us.”
Texas A&M took the doubles point to get out to a 1-0 lead.
Eva Paalma and Domenica Gonzalez smoked Angelina Shakhraichuk and Jessica Hinojosa 6-0 while the other two doubles continued on.
Stefania Hristov and Saska Gavrilovska topped Theresa Van Zyl and Rhiann Newborn 7-5 to secure the doubles point for the Aggies.
“Doubles, like any point, is important when the match is this close,” Scrivano said. “We had our chances in doubles. We just didn’t do a great job. I felt like we just idd’t stick with the plan. That’s something we’ve done incredibly well all season, but for whatever reason today we got away from it. We just didn’t have good self awareness today.”
Three Lady Bears won their first sets.
Blair Shankle topped Rachel Pierson 6-2, Newborn defeated Gonzalez 6-4 and Shakhraichuk beat Paalma 6-3.
Texas A&M went up 2-0 as Gavrilovska defeated Van Zyl 6-1, 6-1.
Newborn cut the Aggies’ lead to 2-1 with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Gonzalez, but the Aggies increased their lead again with Rutuja Bhosale’s 7-5, 6-2 win over Elizabeth Profit.
“Our players competed hard,” Scrivano said. “There were a lot of positives. Funny thing is one half of our facility competed incredibly well and finding a way to put points on the board. The other side of the facility was just struggling. You wish you could get it all put together on the same day but it just didn’t happen today.”
The Lady Bears tied things up at three in dramatic fashion as Blair Shankle won her first set 6-2 over Rachel Pierson and then fought for a tiebreaker victory in the second set.
“I had to change up a few things I was doing,” Shankle said. “Rachel started playing well, started playing smart. I knew I had to make a few adjustments. I did. Fortunately it went well for me. There were a few deuce points in that second set that didn’t go my way in the beginning. It was a really tough match.”
All that was left was Hinojosa and Macarena Olivares on court six.
“A ton of credit to (Hinojosa),” senior Blair Shankle said. “She fought hard in that first set that he was down. She pulled out the second. She was right there in the third. Unfortunately it didn’t go our way. She fought her heart out. There’s nothing more you can ask.”