The good news for all four teams that open play in the NCAA Tournament at the Hurd Tennis Center on Friday is that the most exciting part of the season has arrived.
The bad news for the three teams traveling to Waco, though, is that No. 6 seed Baylor (22-5) is 13-0 at home this season.
“It definitely helps,” Baylor senior and No. 1 singles player Johannes Schretter said about playing at home. “It’s always an advantage to be home and I think we like our courts as well just because we’re used to them. Coming to Baylor and playing us on our courts is definitely not easy for anyone in the country.”
Along with playing well at home, the Bears have shown depth and consistency no matter where they play this season. Baylor begins the NCAA Tournament versus Utah at 6 p.m. on Friday at the Hurd Tennis Center with the top ranked doubles team in the country, and four singles players in the top 80.
Here’s a breakdown of Baylor’s projected lineup and the highlights of this season that helped the Bears earn the chance to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
No. 1 doubles: Sven Lah and Jimmy Bendeck
The reigning No. 1 doubles team in the country has been hard to beat this season when healthy. Bendeck was returning from a minor injury when he and Lah dropped their doubles match in the Big 12 Tournament final. But before that, Baylor’s top duo won seven of eight matches in the No. 1 doubles slot.
Lah and Bendeck are 13-4 in dual matches this season entering the NCAA Tournament.
No. 2 doubles: Will Little and Matias Soto
Soto and Little clinched the doubles point in Baylor’s 4-1 victory over Texas in the Big 12 Tournament final by defeating Longhorns Colin Markes and Leonardo Telles, 6-4. They’ve been the most consistent pair in this spot, posting a 7-2 record in dual matches.
No. 3 doubles: Johannes Schretter and Constantin Frantzen
Baylor’s Schretter and Frantzen have overpowered opponents in the No. 3 doubles position, recording an 8-1 mark this spring, including 4-0 in the Big 12 regular season. They also got the Bears on the board with a doubles win in the conference tournament championship match by cruising past Texas’ Chih Chi Huang and Yuya Ito, 6-2.
No. 1 singles: Johannes Schretter
Entering the Big 12 Tournament, Baylor coach Brian Boland was looking for more consistency from Schretter in the top singles spot. But that was no surprise to the Bears’ highest ranked player as he was searching for the same thing from himself.
Schretter, who is No. 20 in the country this week, came through in the conference tournament with a key victory over Oklahoma State’s Matej Vocel in the semifinals. His match in the finals against Texas’ Christian Sigsgaard didn’t finish as the Bears had already won the four points needed to clinch the victory.
Schretter starts the NCAA Tournament with a 6-5 record this season playing against the opponent’s best player in singles action.
No. 2 singles: Matias Soto
Soto is up to No. 25 in the ITA singles rankings this week after defeating Texas’ Yuta Ito in the Big 12 Tournament final. He’s won 12 of 13 matches in the No. 2 slot this season and has an outstanding 18-4 overall record in dual matches.
A sophomore, Soto has won more than 30 combined singles and doubles matches in each of his first two college seasons.
No. 3 singles: Adrian Boitan
The Bears’ top freshman came up with a season-defining highlight when he won the clinching point in the Big 12 Tournament. Boitan defeated Texas’ Telles in the conference tourney final, 7-5, 6-4, then fell to the ground in celebration of the team victory. He also cruised past Oklahoma State’s Maxim Tybar in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-1 and earned the Big 12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player award.
Boitan went 3-2 in his first run through the Big 12 regular season and has an overall record of 13-4 in dual matches.
No. 4 singles: Will Little
Little was undefeated in Big 12 action this spring until the conference tournament final when Texas’ Harrison Scott beat him, 6-4, 6-2. Nonetheless, Little has had an outstanding senior season with a 14-3 record in dual matches. Little earned All-Big 12 honors in singles for the second straight season.
No. 5 singles: Sven Lah
The Baylor sophomore is up to No. 76 in the ITA singles rankings after he won both his matches at the Big 12 tournament. He defeated Texas’ Markes, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), in a key, hard-fought match in the conference tourney final.
No. 6 singles: Jimmy Bendeck
Bendeck didn’t play singles in the Big 12 Tournament because of injury, but the 12-day break between the conference championship and the opening of the NCAA Tournament allowed the senior to bounce back. He went 2-1 in Big 12 regular season matches with three-set victories over TCU’s Sander Jong and Oklahoma State’s Luke Hammond. If Bendeck is ready to go, he’s the slam dunk choice for the No. 6 singles slot as he owns a 10-3 record in that position this season.