A Team Effort Pulls Off Monumental Win For Red Raiders

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Senior Rafael Garcia helped lead Texas Tech past Baylor last weekend in Waco.

April 4, 2012

by Alexandra Ellis
Texas Tech Athletics Communications

A Gatorade bath over the head of a head coach is custom after a big victory.

But sometimes, Gatorade is not available, so water will suffice.

Ice water.

"It was ice cold. But as cold as it was, it felt great, because of the circumstances," said Texas Tech men's tennis head coach Tim Siegel on Wednesday.

Siegel was referring to Tech's 6-1 victory over the Baylor Bears on Saturday, a feat that had not been accomplished since 1996.

As overwhelming as the final score was, it certainly was no easy task. The two teams battled it out for five hours in front of a big green and gold home crowd in Waco, Tex.

It was a fight that kept Siegel, who had previously only defeated the Bears four times in his 20 years as head coach on the south plains, extremely nervous.

"We could see him suffering through the match," said senior Gonzalo Escobar. "He wasn't pacing or moving. You could tell he was very nervous."

The Red Raiders started off the evening with an up-and-down battle of doubles that came down to number one, seniors Gonzalo Escobar and Raony Carvalho.

"Against Baylor, we know how hard doubles points are. It was very up and down for us, until we got the last tie-breaker. We fought back when they got up 7-4," said Carvalho.

The doubles point can be deceptive, and can have an effect on the outcome of the rest of the match.

"It was very important to start the match 1-0. The whole team was pumped up. We thought `now is the time, this is our chance,'" Carvalho said.

The team carried the momentum into the break, then back out onto the courts for the singles portion of the competition.

The Red Raiders got off to a rough start on singles.

Escobar, the newly minted winningest men's tennis player in Texas Tech history acknowledged this, and brought up a point that proved that even though the singles portion of tennis is more of an individual competition, teamwork can sneak in there.

"A lot of us were struggling that night at singles, but we knew we had to keep fighting," Escobar recalled. "We kept yelling at each other to keep fighting, keep pushing. We never got back down."

Carvalho finished first, defeating Baylor's Roberto Maytin in straight sets, to give Tech the 2-0 lead.

Vitor Manzini was the next to be finished after falling to Diego Galeano in three close sets, which gave Baylor its only point of the evening.

It was a Texas Tech-favored night the rest of the way.

Tech won five of six singles matches, with the match-winning point coming from senior Rafael Garcia against Marko Krickovic.

"To be honest, I was really calm. I knew I had locked in the win, because even though we try to avoid looking at the other scores, we always know what's going on, we need to know what's going on with your team mates," Garcia said.

Not one to eager to be alone in the spotlight, Garcia heaped praise on his fellow team mates, juniors Gabriel Wanderley and Jeff Bryan.

"I felt really secure, because I had Gabe next to me. He was on his way to win as well. He won his doubles and singles matches. And even Jeff came out and represented so well, and did what he had to do. But it was no pressure at all, winning my point," he said.

"As a senior, it feels special to break this losing streak," he continued. "Everyone was really happy about the streak being broke, but right now it's great. I just hope the younger guys keep the winning streak alive now."

Siegel was glowing with pride days after the match.

"What made the win feel better than almost any other was the way we got the job done," he said.

"In every single one of those singles matches, we could have either won them all, or lost them all. And we fought through the ups and downs in the match. It was one of those matches where I felt every one of our players played very well, competed very well, and played very intelligently. They didn't get rattled by the crowd or by anything else."

The victory helped the Red Raiders (12-6, 1-0) jump seven places in the latest ITA rankings from No. 30 to No. 23, leapfrogging their next opponent, No. 25 Texas A&M.

Siegel noted the maturity of the team since the big win, as the team has put the win behind them and are now focusing on this Saturday evening's match against the Aggies.

"We've got a top 25 team, who by the way, beat Baylor handily this year, so we understand that A&M is very well coached, and is a very good team," he said.

Siegel is anticipating a big home crowd at the McLeod Tennis Center for the final match between the Red Raiders and Aggies, as the Aggies head to the Southeastern Conference in the summer of 2012.

"Since I've been here, we've had some great crowds over the years. The crowd is just extremely important," Siegel said.

"We're expecting a big crowd, even though it's the night before Easter. All the places that we play, they're tough to play at because of their fans. We've had some good crowds. We need to have them loud this weekend."




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