Men's college tennis: Oklahoma State comes back to knock off No. 3 Baylor
WACO, Texas — The Oklahoma State men's tennis team won four singles matches to secure its first victory over a top-three ranked opponent since 2001, as the eighth-ranked Cowboys knocked off No. 3 Baylor 4-3 at the Hurd Tennis Center on Sunday.
OSU (20-4; 3-1 Big 12) has now defeated 11 ranked opponents this season, including four that are ranked in the top 10.
"It's special anytime that you're able to get a win in the Big 12," head coach Jay Udwadia said. "This conference is filled with the best teams in the country and all of them compete just as hard as we do. Today is probably a little bit sweeter though because we were able get a win away from home after losing the doubles point.
"We kind of laid an egg in doubles, but we switched our mindset as soon as singles started and the guys did an incredible job of playing and ultimately winning a hard-fought match."
Tristan Meraut once again provided the match-clinching point for OSU, as he knocked off Baylor's Jimmy Bendeck in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 (3). Meraut's win pushes his singles winning streak to 12, which ranks as the longest by any Cowboy this season.
"Clinching is always a nice feeling, but being the first or last one is the same for me," Meraut said. "I'm happy that today I could help the team get a win. We still have a lot of the season left to be played and I'm sure the best is coming for the Cowboys."
Meraut's win comes just one week after he provided the clinching point for the Cowboys in their 4-2 victory over No. 6 Texas in Stillwater. The junior's clincher also mirrored OSU's win over Baylor last season, where he also defeated Bendeck to secure the Cowboys' victory.
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Prior to Meraut's win, OSU picked up singles wins on courts one, four and six to pull level with the Bears, 3-3.
Lukas Finzelberg, was the first to strike in singles play for Oklahoma State, as he knocked Constantin Frantzen, 6-3, 6-0, on court six. Finzelberg's victory gives him a team-high 17 singles wins this season and marks his sixth win in his last seven completed matches.
Tied at 1-1, Baylor quickly claimed the lead again after Johannes Schretter, ranked No. 74 in the nation, defeated OSU's Lucas Gerch in straight sets. The Bears' lead grew to 3-1 just minutes later when No. 41 Max Tchoutakian bested Arjun Kadhe on court two, 6-2, 7-5.
OSU's ensuing rally began on court four, where sophomore Artur Dubinski dropped Baylor's Will Little in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. Dubinski has won eight singles matches since joining the Cowboys in early February, with seven of those victories coming in straight sets.
Julian Cash tied the match shortly after Dubinski's match concluded, as he overpowered 10th-ranked Juan Benitez in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Cash's win tied him with Lukas Finzelberg for the most singles wins by a Cowboy this season and marked the right-hander's second victory over a top-10 opponent in 2017.
The Cowboys' singles surge was a necessity for victory on Sunday after dropping the doubles point due to tough losses on courts one and two. OSU was able to overcome the deficit, however, and secure its third comeback victory of the season.
"This win feels amazing," Meraut said. "I'm so proud of my teammates. We started slow in doubles and Baylor came ready to play. When we got back on the court for singles though, we knew that we're a team that can beat anyone in the country, even without winning the doubles point."
The Cowboys are also now 7-0 in true road matches this season, which is the team's best start to a season on the road during head coach Jay Udwadia's tenure.
"This group is great at supporting each other," Udwadia said of the Cowboys' road success. "We're a close team and we have great leadership, so I think that has helped us to be able to block out the crowds or any other distractions."