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GEORGIA ON THEIR MINDS: Men, Women Advance to NCAA Round of 16

May 12, 2014

By Jerry Hill

Baylor Bear Insider

Just minutes after helping the fifth-seeded Baylor men's tennis team defeat Tulsa and advance to the NCAA Championship Round of 16 for the 13th straight year, junior Mate Zsiga made it clear that the Bears are "not done yet."

"It's a great feeling, being one of the best 16 teams in the country again; it's a great accomplishment," said Zsiga, who swept past Tulsa's Dylan McCloskey, 6-4, 6-2, at No. 5 singles. "But we're not done yet. We still want to keep going. We know we have a tough match ahead of us against Illinois. It's going to be tough, but I have confidence."

The Bears (25-5) punched their ticket for a trip to the final site in Athens, Ga., with a 4-1 win over the No. 43 Golden Hurricane (16-13) in Sunday's second-round match that was moved to the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center because of high winds.

"Survive and advance - we got through; it's terrific," said Baylor head coach Matt Knoll, whose team will face 12th-ranked Illinois (24-8) at 11 a.m. CDT Friday

Knoll said he would have preferred to play Sunday's match on the outdoor courts at the Hurd Tennis Center, "but it is what it is."

"You can't really waste much energy worrying about the weather," he said. "It was clearly over the wind limit, and we're lucky that we have this great indoor facility so that we can roll over here and play."

Baylor put the first point on the board in doubles, winning on Courts 2 and 3 for the second straight day. The No. 3 team of Julian Lenz and Michel Dornbusch were dominant in an 8-2 win over Carlos Bautista and Daniel Santos, and then Diego Galeano and Tony Lupieri clinched it, beating Japie De Klerk and Alejandro Espejo, 8-6, on a great topspin lob to the back line by Galeano.

"The theme of the day was just to advance," Knoll said. "The doubles point is out there, so let's go get it. And we did. You want to fight for every point, and I thought we did that. Maybe as much as any match we've had, I think everybody showed up. I felt like we competed well at every spot."

The Bears took control in the singles by winning the first set on five of the six courts. Dornbusch cut through Tulsa's Or Ram-Harel like a knife through butter, reeling off eight straight games before dropping one and finishing if off, 6-0, 6-3, with a service winner on match point.

"We had a lot of confidence that by this time of the ye would start to be something special," Knoll said of Dornbusch, who has lost just one of the last 12 matches he's finished. "And I think he's starting to be that guy. . . . It just took him a little time to adjust, but he's doing that, and I think he's starting to embrace the environment more and feel more comfortable. I think he'll just get better and better as the season goes along."

After Espejo upset the 31st-ranked Galeano, 6-4, 6-3, at No. 3, the Bears still needed two more points to clinch the match. And it was a race to the finish between Zsiga and Lupieri on opposite ends of the building.

Finishing within seconds of each other, Zsiga closed his out first when McCloskey hit a forehand wide. And then Lupieri celebrated when he clinched with a forehand winner, knocking off Bautista, 6-4, 6-2, at No. 6.

"I was trying to just focus on my match, but of course I saw that Mate was close to finishing," Lupieri said. "We all want to finish, and we're going to make fun of the guys that didn't finish today. But overall, the only thing that matters is the team. If the team wins, everything is good."

Lenz had taken control and was leading the 74th-ranked Clifford Marsland, 6-4, 4-1, at No. 1, while Pradella was trailing De Klerk, 5-2, in the second set after winning the opener, 6-2.

"I thought both of those guys (Zsiga and Luperi) gained momentum toward the end," Knoll said. "They were in second sets that were kind of close, and then they started picking it up and got on a roll at the end. That was encouraging. And I think Julian had started to gain a lot of momentum. We got to four (points), and we were in position in the other two matches if we needed them. So, I feel good about it."

Baylor-Illinois is a rematch of a March 16 match that the Bears dominated, 4-0, at the Oracle Collegiate Cup in Indian Wells, Calif.

"We know their guys. We have a familiarity with who they are," Knoll said. "But it's a new season. We're going to have to be ready for them to play well. You've got to focus on yourself and go out there and do your thing."

Here is a link to the complete results from Sunday's Baylor-Tulsa men's tennis match.

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