Texas faces Baylor in top-10 showdown

Justin Martinez

“Defend home court” is this year’s mantra for No. 8 Texas, but the Longhorns will be tested Wednesday when they host No. 4 Baylor at Caswell Tennis Center at 6 p.m. The Longhorns (18-5) return to the 40 Acres after splitting a two-game road stint against No. 19 Oklahoma and No. 5 Oklahoma State.

Texas conquered in Norman, edging the Sooners 4-3 to extend its winning streak to five. That streak came to an end in Stillwater as it suffered a 4-2 loss to Oklahoma State.

The Longhorns stumbled out of the gate against the Cowboys, falling behind 3-0 to start the match. Oklahoma State’s Tristan Meraut foiled Texas’ comeback effort with a 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 victory over sophomore Rodrigo Banzer to secure the win.

“We’ve won several close matches like that, but we just came up short against Oklahoma State,” head coach Michael Center said. “It came down to the very end, and there were just a couple opportunities we didn’t capitalize on.”

Texas can’t afford to make any mistakes when the Bears come to town on Wednesday. Baylor enters the top-10 showdown as winners of seven of its last eight matches.

But the Longhorns don’t shy away from the big stage. Texas holds a record of 5–3 against top-15 opponents, including wins over No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Oklahoma State.

And despite not playing since April 2, Center is keeping his team focused at practice. The head coach places emphasis on paying attention to detail.

“We still have some areas that we need to work on,” Center said. “If we bring that competitive mindset to the practice court, it’ll translate to those close in-game situations. Hopefully then we’ll come out on top.”

In addition to the ultimate goal of making a run in the postseason, Texas aims to win the Big 12 Championship – something it hasn’t accomplished since 2010.

“We obviously want to get a ring, but we still want to win the Big 12 championship as well,” freshman Christian Sigsgaard said. “I think we have a strong team this year and a good chance to make it happen.”

But for now, the Longhorns are focused on beating the Bears in front of their home crowd. It’s all about taking things one step at a time, according to Center.

“I know we’re in conference play and that’s exciting, but we still have about two months left of this season,” Center said. “We can’t get too high on ourselves. We just have to continue to prepare and compete.”