WACO, Texas – Freshman Dennis Lengsfeld rallied from a 6-4 deficit in a third-set tiebreaker to propel seventh-ranked Baylor to a 4-3 win against No. 26 Oklahoma on Friday night.
“The match meant a lot to us,” Baylor assistant coach Chris Brandi said. “Oklahoma is a really good team and as well coached as anybody in the country. Our guys didn’t play maybe their best match but really fought hard. For us to beat a team like that, in that situation, without our head coach is huge. I think our team is really moving in the right direction.”
Brandi served as the acting head coach for the Bears on the night as head coach Matt Knoll served his one-match suspension by the Big 12 Conference.
With the Bears and Sooners tied at three points apiece, Lengsfeld found himself trailing Oklahoma freshman Tsvetan Mihov in the tiebreaker that would decide the match. The Alterkuelz, Germany native then rebounded with four straight point wins to clinch the Baylor victory.
“Dennis really fought hard,” Brandi said. “He played the way we want him to play and the way he is capable of playing. It is really a difficult position to close out matches, especially if you have only been here since January. I know we all couldn’t be prouder of him. He wants to win more than anybody and we saw that passion at the end.”
The win moves Baylor to 17-3 on the year and 4-0 in Big 12 conference play with two league matches remaining. Oklahoma falls to 13-5 and 2-2 in conference play. Overall, the Bears have won 15 of their last 16 matches and nine straight contests. Baylor improves to 10-3 against ranked foes on the year. The Bears have won 17 straight matches against Oklahoma and now lead the all-time series 18-14.
“We lost a heartbreaker tonight,” OU head coach John Roddick said. “We had two team match points and just didn’t get over the hump. I am extremely proud of my team’s effort and heart. If we fight like that, good things will happen for this team.”
Baylor put the first point of the day on the board as the Bears captured their 18th consecutive doubles point. The fifth-ranked pair of Roberto Maytin and John Peers streaked to an 8-4 over Lonut Beleleu and Mihov at No. 1 doubles. Maytin and Peers are now 14-2 in dual-match play with four straight wins.
However, the Sooners would respond as Lawrence Formentera and Laurentiu Gavrila downed Kike Grangeiro and Julian Bley, 8-5, at the No. 3 spot.
That OU win shifted the focus to No. 2 doubles where Sergio Ramirez and Jordan Rux had just broken back to tie the match at six games each. From there, the BU tandem would win the next two games to take an 8-6 victory over the 68th-ranked duo of Costin Paval and Peerakit Siributwong. Ramirez and Rux, who are ranked No. 78, are now 12-3 in dual-match play and have won five straight.
“For a while it looked like we were going to lose the doubles point,” Brandi said. “We are down a break on two and three, but the guys were pretty resilient and fought back. We look at it as a little bonus point and today, it was a good momentum starter.”
As singles play began, the Bears would build a 2-0 advantage on the strength of Rux’s 6-4, 6-2 win versus Siributwong at No. 3 singles. The victory pushed Rux to a 9-8 dual-match record as the senior has won four of his last five.
However, Oklahoma responded to the early deficit by winning the next three singles matches. First, Gavrila got the better of the 91st-ranked Maytin at the No. 4 position 7-6(5), 6-4. The loss snapped a seven-match win streak for the BU sophomore.
Court No. 5 was next to wrap as Formentera downed the 95th-ranked Grangeiro 6-4, 6-3. The Bears would then be pushed to the brink of defeat as No. 74 Paval got past 73rd-ranked Ramirez 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 at No. 2 singles.
Now trailing, 3-2, Baylor had to win the remaining two matches on court to capture the win. The 19th-ranked Peers would deliver first as he rebounded from an opening set loss to beat No. 34 Beleleu 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 at the top position. Peers has now won six straight to move his record to 16-3.
The Baylor senior’s win passed the fate of the match down to court No. 6 where Lengsfeld had just broken to go up 5-3 in the deciding third set, after winning the first 6-1 and dropping the second 6-4. But, Lengsfeld then faltered in the next two games as Mihov tied the match at five games all. The pair each held serve to force the match into the tiebreaker where Lengsfeld would get out to a 4-2 lead, before losing the next four points and needing to win four straight of his own to pull out the win.