In its tightest match of the season, the No. 16 Baylor women’s tennis program fell to Texas A&M, 4-3, in the NCAA Championship second round on Sunday afternoon. The loss closes the team portion of the postseason for the Lady Bears, who end the year with a 22-7 mark overall.
After surrendering the doubles point and the first singles result on court four, the Lady Bears battled their way back into match contention. Senior Rhiann Newborn put her squad on the board with a strong victory on court three, 6-4, 6-2, against Domenica Gonzalez.
Texas A&M responded with another win at No. 2 singles to establish a 3-1 lead, but Baylor gained steam when freshman Angelina Shakhraichuk came through with a win on court five, 6-3, 6-3, over Eva Paalma to cut the deficit to one.
With the match result on the line, No. 3-ranked Blair Shankle came through with a huge tiebreak victory in No. 1 singles. She bested No. 16-ranked Rachel Pierson, 6-2, 7-6(5) to knot the team score, 3-3, and earn her 11th win over a ranked opponent this season.
On court six, freshman Jessica Hinojosa fought through a match exceeding three hours, but succumbed in the end to Macarena Olivares, 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-4. The three-setter clinched a berth to the Round of 16 for Texas A&M.
● Senior Blair Shankle posted her 11th win over a ranked opponent, besting No. 16 Rachel Pierson, 6-2, 7-6(5) in No. 1 singles.
● Shankle has won nine consecutive matches and is 18-2 in dual match play.
● Senior Rhiann Newborn ended her career with a 6-4, 6-2 victory at No. 3 singles. She ends her senior year with a 21-7 record overall and a 16-5 mark in dual match action.
● The Lady Bears are 21-1 when hosting NCAA Championship first and second round action.
● Baylor is 34-20 all-time in the NCAA Championship and 31-14 under head coach Joey Scrivano.
● BU is 23-2 all-time in NCAA Championship matches played in Waco.
● The Lady Bears won nine of their last 11 dual matches of the season.
● Baylor is 10-5 all-time in NCAA Championship second round matches.
“Ultimately, you have to give credit to Texas A&M. They have a great team, they have a lot of experience, they have another gear and they put it into another gear today. Credit to them and their coaches, they did a great job and out-competed us. When you’re in a match this close, you need your opponent to help you a bit. We weren’t the best version of ourselves and they played very well. Those two things turn into a 4-3 loss for us.” - Baylor head coach Joey Scrivano
Senior Blair Shankle will compete in the NCAA Championship singles competition at Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., on May 24-29. She was the No. 5 overall seeded player as the automatic qualifier out of the Big 12 Conference. Shankle enters the 64-player bracket with a No. 3 national ranking.