Sunday was unbelievable day to be in Tulsa with two heart-pounding 4-3 thrillers with the Cal and Ohio State match coming down to a third set tiebreak to decide the winner. The crowds were a little light around noon central but by 1 p.m. the stands were filling up and by the time the Cal/Ohio State match came to a conclusion it was standing room only. The actual paid attendance was just over 1100 but by the time you added in coaches, players, volunteers, and media you probably had close to 1400 people crammed in there which made for a great environment.
Ohio State came into this match with a staunch 31-4 doubles record while Cal had won the point a very respectable 18 times in 24 matches. Ohio State jumped out to early break leads at No. 1 and No. 2 while Cal took the early lead at No. 3.
Ohio State’s Mikael Torpegaard and Herkko Pollanen opened up their match at No. 1 by winning the first five games and they had a match point on the deciding point to win it 6-0 but Filip Bergevi managed to get the hold. Pollanen would serve it out to give Ohio State the quick 6-1 win.
Cal’s Mads Engsted and J.T. Nishimura got off to the quick start at No. 3 as they led 4-1 but they faced a big point when Nishimura served at 4-2, 40-40. Engsted was able to use some quick reflexes and a little luck to hit a volley winner to give Cal the hold for 5-2 (clip below). Two games later Engsted would serve it out to give Cal the 6-3 win.
Ohio State’s Martin Joyce and Ralf Steinbach broke Cal to go up 3-2 at No. 2 but Cal went up 30-40 on Joyce’s serve. Joyce hammered an ace down the T to get it to the deciding point and it looked like Joyce would get the hold but Ohio State wasn’t able to put away – I’ll let the video show you what happened (this is the point that Ty Tucker was talking about in his post-match interview).
It was the first time in 18 matches that Ohio State had dropped the doubles point and it would also set the tone for singles. Ohio State’s Chris Diaz, Ralf Steinbach, Herkko Pollanen, and Martin Joyce would each go up breaks in the first set but Joyce would be the only Buckeye to actually win the set.
Steinbach broke Filip Bergevi to start the match but Bergevi would get it back on serve at 2-2. Steinbach would break again to go up 4-3 but Bergevi would break back on the deciding point to even it at 4-4. Bergevi would hold for 5-4 and then he’d break Steinbach again on the deciding point to take the opening set 6-4. The second set was pretty similar to the first because time and time again Bergevi won the big points. Bergevi broke Steinbach on the deciding point to go up 3-1 and then he’d break him again on a deciding point to close out the match 6-4, 6-2.
Less than a minute after Bergevi’s win, Ohio State freshman Martin Joyce would put the Buckeyes on the board with a straight set win over J.T. Nishimura at No. 6. Joyce broke Nishimura to go up 4-2 in the first and he’d close out the opening set 6-3. Joyce opened up a 3-0 lead in the second set and cruised to the finish line with a 6-3, 6-2 win to up his dual-match record to 21-0.
Cal senior Oskar Wikberg would put the Bears within a point of the the clinch with a straight set win over Herkko Pollanen at No. 5. Pollanen broke Wikberg to start the match and held for 2-0 but Wikberg would hold, break, and hold to go up 3-2. Pollanen held and then broke on the deciding point to go up 4-3 but Wikberg would break, hold, and break to take the opening set 6-4. The second started off just like the first with Pollanen breaking then holding for a 2-0 lead. Wikberg held, broke, and then held on the deciding point with a little serve and volley action to go up 3-2. Wikberg broke and then held for 5-2 before Pollanen finally got a hold for 3-5. Wikberg went up 40-15 but Pollanen got it back to the deciding point. Wikberg landed his first serve and then hit a low volley that Pollanen couldn’t return and that was it.
Cal’s lead was now 3-1 but Ohio State was starting to make its move on each of the three remaining courts.
Ohio State redshirt freshman Hugo Di Feo dropped the opening set to Billy Griffith at No. 3 but then he jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the second. Di Feo got broke serving for the set not once but twice and all of a sudden it was back on serve at 5-4. Griffith fell behind 15-40 on his serve and then he double faulted the break to give Di Feo the 6-4 set. Di Feo went up 3-1 in the third but Griffith would break and then hold to even it at 3-3. Di Feo would hold at love for 4-3 and then he’d break Griffith on the deciding point to go up 5-3. Di Feo would serve it out at love to take it 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Both Mikael Torpegaard and Chris Diaz had come back from a set down and now both had break leads in the third set so it seemed like Ohio State just might pull this one out after all.
Diaz and Cal’s Andre Goransson exchanged breaks virtually the entire match with service holds extremely hard to come by. Diaz jumped out to the early 2-0 lead but Goransson would hold, break, and hold to go up 3-2. Goransson broke again to go up 4-2 but Diaz would break back and then hold from 40-30 to even it at 4-4. After three straight holds, Goransson would break Diaz one more time to close out the first set 7-5. Diaz broke Goransson to start the second set but Goransson would immediately break back to even it at 1-1. Diaz would break for 4-3 and then he’d fight off four break points to hold for 5-3. Diaz broke Goransson to take the second set 6-3 and then it seemed like Goransson’s body really started to fade as the third set went on – watch the clip to see how badly he was moving
As Diaz started to pull away in the third set, Ohio State sophomore and ITA #1 Mikael Torpegaard was seemingly nearing the finish line at No. 1.
Cal junior Florian Lakat took the opening set 6-3 and then went up an early break in the second before Torpegaard got it together and won the next six games to take the second set 6-2. The third set stayed on serve until Torpegaard broke Lakat from 30-40 to go up 5-3. Torpegaard was serving for the match but unbelievably he would double fault at 30-all and 30-40 to gift wrap the break to Lakat. Lakat would hold at love for 5-5 and then he’d break Torpegaard from 30-40 to go up 6-5. Lakat went up 40-15 and had three match points but he hammered a forehand long to make it 40-30, he hit a double fault that landed two courts over to make it 40-40, and then a forehand went just long on a point that lasted just short of a minute so off to a tiebreak they went.
As the tiebreak was starting up Chris Diaz did manage to close out Andre Goransson 6-2 in the third so it truly was going to be a winner take all tiebreak.
Lakat went up a mini-break to start the tiebreak and then won both points on his serve to go up 3-0. Torpegaard won the next three before Lakat held for 4-3. Lakat went up a mini-break at 5-4 but Torpegaard evened it at 5-5. Lakat held for 6-5 and then Torpegaard fought off a match point with a gutsy drop shot to even it at 6-6. Lakat went up 7-6 after Torpegaard put a pretty tight backhand into the net and then he won it on the next point when Torpegaard pushed a forehand into the alley. The clip below starts with Lakat serving at 1-0 the tiebreak and goes all the way to the celebration.
#13 California (21-6) def. #5 Ohio State (33-2), 4-3
Michael D. Case Tennis Center 12 noon
Head Coaches: Ty Tucker (Ohio State) and Peter Wright (California)
1. Herkko Pollanen/Mikael Torpegaard (Ohio State) def. #9 Filip Bergevi/Florian Lakat (Cal), 6-1
2. Andre Goransson/Oskar Wikberg (Cal) def. Martin Joyce/Ralf Steinbach (Ohio State), 6-3
3. Mads Engsted/J.T. Nishimura (Cal) def. Hugo Di Feo/Matt Mendez (Ohio State), 6-3
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2
1. #30 Florian Lakat (California) def. #1 Mikael Torpegaard (Ohio State), 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (6)
2. #88 Chris Diaz (Ohio State) def. #31 Andre Goransson (California), 5-7, 6-3, 6-2
3. #45 Hugo Di Feo (Ohio State) def. #85 Billy Griffith (California), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
4. #119 Filip Bergevi (California) def. Ralf Steinbach (Ohio State), 6-4, 6-2
5. #124 Oskar Wikberg (California) def. #103 Herkko Pollanen (Ohio State), 6-4, 6-3
6. Martin Joyce (Ohio State) def. J.T. Nishimura (California), 6-3, 6-2
Order of Finish: 4, 6, 5, 3, 2, 1
California Head Coach Peter Wright
On his team’s win “Ohio State is an incredible team and they battle so well. They really brought that match back. We were on top of them early and they kept fighting. It was just an incredible college match at the end. They had chances to win the match, we had chances to win the match. Up and down, back and forth. It’s college tennis at its finest. We’ve had a couple of nail biters here so far. I just have to say I’m super proud of my guys, coming through when it counts. I’m incredibly proud. The Tulsa fans were amazing.
On the importance of the doubles point
“Today we weren’t the favorite going into the doubles point. Ohio State has been very strong in doubles all year. We’ve played incredibly well at #2 and #3 doubles. It gave us the opportunity to get out in front of Ohio State and build the lead that we did. Ohio State was great at pulling it back.
On making it to the semifinals
“It’s been a while. It’s really exciting for us. We’ve been building to this. We have two seniors in our lineup one in doubles and one in singles., but these guys have had this in their sights. It’s not just the semifinals. This tournament and coming to Tulsa has been a big part of how we prepared this season and what we want to accomplish. Certainly, every match is on a razor’s edge. We feel fortunate to be in the semifinals, but we feel we’ve earned it too.
On how the Pac-12 prepares a team for this tournament
“Every conference is a little different, but we have a tough conference. We have one team now in the semifinals, but we have solid teams on the men’s and women’s sides. It’s great. I think the guys being able to compete against the best players in the country on a weekly basis just really helps them in preparation for the NCAA Championships. Our Pac-12 tournament is incredible. The Pac-12 is a great tennis conference, and I think what you see at the NCAA Championships year in and year out is a reflection of that.
On what it means for both the men’s and women’s teams to advance to the semifinals
“It’s incredible. We did a facility renovation that opened last year, and we had a lot of our friends and family, the Cal family, come together and raise almost $4 million. That has been transformational to our program. As our women’s team plays and as our men’s team plays, we have a lot of pride in what we do in representing the school. Having both of our teams there, I think you’ll notice that we’ve been at every one of the women’s matches, they’ve been at every one of our matches, and that really makes a difference. Having that support that’s one of the great things about this champi- onship. It’s a coed championship, and you’ll see the women cheering for the men’s teams and the men cheering for the women’s teams, and that’s really what makes this such a special tournament.
Florian Lakat, California (#1 singles)
On his match…
“I think that my match was just a reflection of the whole match, as a whole. A lot of ups and downs and everyone across the board kept fighting and we stuck to the process. I was down 5-3, maybe 30 minutes earlier I actually looked really good for us and all of the sudden it switched and here I am down 5-3. We all stayed in there, the guys helped me a lot. I for sure would not have done it without them in the crowd, I love the guys coming and supporting me, it made the push for the team.
On if there were any crucial points for him…
“Not really, it is just point after point you know, that point view. You cannot be thinking about oh, I got to win this point here. It is all about process and just sticking to the game plan.
On what is going through his mind during the tie break…
“Same thing. Ups and downs, I am serving for it. I have three match points, huge rallies, I don’t make it, it goes back to a breaker, up 3-0 back to 3-3. Lot of ups and downs all across the courts and it could have gone either way. I am glad it turned in our favor.
“Obviously it was a touch match, California did a good job at No. 1 singles, the guy (Florian Lakat) stepped up and hit the ball in some tight moments. He made some errors, but kept hitting it. I thought my guy (Mikael Torpegaard) got a little bit tight, served for the match at 5-3 and double faulted twice in that match. That’s what you want in the NCAA Championships, a chance to go to the final four with your horse serving, 5-3, in the third set, I’d take it everyday of the week. But, we did a poor job in the start, we had a break on two doubles and gave it back on a deuce-point where there was an overhead involved inside the service line and gave that back. Then looked a little shell-shocked. Talked to the guys before the match, and I said you’re going to have to face some adversity. That was the point; we didn’t get back up onto the horse and start riding until about 40 minutes in the singles. But once we got going, we started to establish what we do, started putting points on the board, all the way to the end. We came back after being down for about two hours, and came back to have our opportunity to win. That’s what you get when you let it slip away from you in the beginning.
The other early afternoon quarterfinal really wasn’t much off a match as No. 1 Virginia trounced No. 9 Florida 4-0. Virginia was in control of the doubles point pretty early on and would win 6-3 at both No. 1 and No. 3.
Virginia won all six first sets in singles and while Florida came back a little in the second set it wasn’t nearly enough as Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, Alex Ritschard, and J.C. Aragone each won in straight sets with Ritschard clinching the win at No. 4.
The Virginia and Florida highlight packages can get up caught up on the rest of the details.
#1 Virginia (28-4) def. #9 Florida (21-7), 4-0
Michael D. Case Tennis Center 12 noon
Head Coaches: Brian Boland (Virginia) and Bryan Shelton (Florida)
4. #78 Alexander Ritschard (Virginia) def. #120 Chase Perez-Blanco (Florida), 6-3, 7-6 (4)
5. #110 J.C. Aragone (Virginia) vs. Gordon Watson (Florida), 7-6 (2), 4-6, 2-2 DNF
6. Henrik Wiersholm (Virginia) def. McClain Kessler (Florida), 6-4, 6-2
Order of Finish: 6, 3, 4
Virginia Head Coach Brian Boland
On his team’s win…
“Congratulations to Florida on having a great season, winning the SEC Championship, and coming in here and doing as well as they did. They made it tough on us.
“I thought we played really well today. We came out incredibly strong in doubles, executing well and moving well. We had an enormous amount of energy. I’m really pleased with how we started. We got off to an excellent start in singles as well. We used the momentum and it carried over. The guys are locked in and seem to be playing really well. Now we just need to prepare for whoever is next.
On what it says about the players and the program to advance to the semifinals for the seventh time…
“It’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of. Consistency is hard to come by, and you have to keep the focus on year after year. There are so many great coaches and competitive programs out there, that it’s hard to be consistent. When these guys put the orange and blue on, they have a tremendous amount of pride. I’m really proud of that. They play for something bigger than themselves, and it really shows day in and day out in practice, as well as the matches.
On whether depth has separated his team over the last two seasons…
“Depth has been a strength for us for a long time. I think you’ll see that over a lot of the top programs. Certainly we believe in our depth, but I’m really pleased with how we played at the top of the lineup as well. Ryan Shane was about ready to go up two breaks in the third. He’s playing some great tennis and moving well. Then we were serving for it at #2 with Collin Altamirano. I like how we were playing up and down the lineup. I thought it was a strong performance. Everyone was focused on their job and doing what they can. We left it out there and played a really complete match.
Luca Corinteli, Virginia (#1 doubles)
On his match being against two of the top ranked doubles teams…
“We played them earlier in the year in Gainesville and I was talking to Ryan about it before the match. I thought these guys were one of the best teams we’ve played all year. They serve really well, return well, both of them were great volleys so I knew it was going to come down to a couple of points. We won a couple deuce points at the beginning of the match and we came out with a ton of energy. Like I said before, this is how doubles points work it’s whoever can get those deuce points and they went our way today so we got the job done.
“We have been very close, become best friends. We have known each other for so long and I know this is the last tournament that we can play with each other in the orange and blue so we are just trying to enjoy it as much as possible. I know I am going to miss being able to play with him. We just keep it really light on the court that is how he is in singles as well. I don’t know if you have gotten to see too many of his matches but that’s just the kind of guy he is and it is what makes him so good.
Florida Head Coach Bryan Shelton
Comments on the match…
“I thought UVA came out and played really well today, it started in the doubles. When we played them in the season we were able to get that doubles point. They came out really strong today, serving well and really playing aggressively. I felt like they were just able to get off to a better start today and once they seized the momentum, they were able hold on to it throughout the singles. Our guys had an incredible year, I felt like we got better throughout the whole season and obviously in the postseason winning the SEC title, as well as, making a good run here (NCAA Championships) up to this point. I feel like we have a solid foundation, and solid core and looking forward to just continuing it next season with this group. Just proud of my seniors, who gave us so much throughout the season this year, Diego (Hidalgo) and Gordon (Watson). I’m really excited about the individual tournament and opportunities that lie ahead there.
The late afternoon time slot was just like the early one with one close match and one that was never in doubt. The one that was never in doubt was this one between No. 7 Georgia and No. 2 North Carolina. North Carolina was playing without Robert Kelly (#1 dubs/#5 singles), who was unavailable due to a lower body injury, and Georgia definitely took advantage of the situation. Just as UNC had done against Mississippi State on Friday it shifted both its No. 2 and No. 3 teams up a spot while Brett Clark who normally plays with Kelly was paired up with Blaine Boyden at No. 3.
North Carolina got off to a good start at No. 3 when its makeshift team of Boyden and Clark broke Emil Reinberg on the deciding point to take a 2-0 lead. There would be five straight holds before Boyden and Clark broke Wayne Montgomery to win it 6-2.
Georgia’s Paul Oosterbaan and Jan Zielinski broke Anu Kodali to start the match at No. 2 and they’d break him one more time to win it 6-3.
The doubles point would be decided at No. 1 and for the first 25 minutes North Carolina was in control. Jack Murray and Brayden Schnur broke Ben Wagland from 30-40 to go up 2-1 and then Jack Murray would hold on the deciding point for 3-1. After an Austin Smith hold, Schnur would hold from 40-30 to put UNC up 4-2. Wagland would hold for 3-4 and then Jack Murray would start off the next game serving at 0-15 after Brayden Schnur was given a point penalty for arguing with the chair over a call in the previous game. Smith and Wagland would break Murray for 4-4 and then they’d break him again to take the match 7-5.
With Kelly also out of the singles lineup that meant that Anu Kodali had to move up one spot to No. 5 while Blaine Boyden came off the bench to play at No. 6.
Georgia’s got off to a quick start on four of the six courts with Wayne Montgomery, Walker Duncan, Jan Zielinski, and Nick Wood each going up early breaks while North Carolina’s Brayden Schnur and Brett Clark took break leads on the other two courts.
Duncan and Jack Murray exchanged early breaks at No. 4 but Duncan would break again to go up 4-2. Duncan held for 5-2 and then two games later he’d hold to take the opening set 6-3. The second set was all Duncan as he’d win all six games to close out a 6-3, 6-0 win. The first clip is an unbelievable tweener that Duncan hit in his 5-0 game and the second clip is match.
Less than seven minutes later the match would be over as both Nick Wood and Jan Zielinski won in straight sets with Zielinski clinching about 30 seconds after Wood’s finish. The total match time was just 2 hours and 7 minutes.
2. Paul Oosterbaan/Jan Zielinski (Georgia) def. Anu Kodali/Ronnie Schneider (UNC), 6-3
3. Blaine Boyden/Brett Clark (UNC) def. Wayne Montgomery/Emil Reinberg (Georgia), 6-2
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1
1. #26 Brayden Schnur (North Carolina) vs. #17 Austin Smith (Georgia), 6-4, 5-3 DNF
2. #32 Wayne Montgomery (Georgia) vs. #28 Ronnie Schneider (North Carolina), 6-3, 3-3 DNF
3. #46 Brett Clark (North Carolina) vs. #64 Paul Oosterbaan (Georgia), 6-2, 5-3 DNF
4. #123 Walker Duncan (Georgia) def. Jack Murray (North Carolina), 6-3, 6-0
5. Jan Zielinski (Georgia) def. Anu Kodali (North Carolina), 6-4, 6-2
6. Nick Wood (Georgia) def. Blaie Boyden (North Carolina), 6-3, 6-1
Order of Finish: 4, 6, 5
Georgia Head Coach Manuel Diaz
On his feelings going into the semifinals…
“Well, first of all I am so excited about the fact that these guys have worked so hard. We have overcome so much this year. You know, not just us, a whole lot of teams come into this tournament and I know North Carolina was affected by not having Robert Kelly in the lineup, but honestly to see our team handle adversity, nobody knows this until this moment probably but Austin Smith pulled his bicep tendon completely out of the socket the Monday of the regional. He didn’t practice at all that week, I held him out of the Saturday match in the round of 64. He played in the round of 32, he was not in good form but he got a cortisone shot on Monday. Long story short, he has practiced two hours in two weeks and to see him handle that adversity, and to see our team rally around him and everybody has really pulled together. To me that has just been the most rewarding thing to see, our team come together. We have three seniors, one of them is right here (Nick Wood), just a terrific contributor for four years and himself dislocated his ankle as a freshman and lost that year pretty much. That’s been the story, these guys have shown a lot of toughness and they’ve shown how much they’ve wanted it. This year I think we have a closer team than we have had in a long time. All the credit to them.
On what he tells his players now…
“Well, there is not a whole lot of time to enjoy this victory today. You get to enjoy it for an hour or two and we have a shorter window to prepare for the semifinals match. We have had a day’s break between the last two matches and we have got to be ready to bounce back a little bit quicker. We’ve got to try and get our minds on whomever we place next, still to be decided. We are a little bit fortunate in that sense that we maybe get a little bit of rest. We get to do what we get to do here, and hopefully get these guys some good food and get them in bed.
Nick Wood, Georgia (#6 singles)
On fighting through teammate Austin Smith’s injury before regionals, and how the team responded…
“He’s contributed so much for us this year. When he went down, it was the rest of the guys’ time to step up, and contribute back for him. We kind of rallied around him, and we’re just playing for each other right now. Like Coach (Manuel Diaz) said, we’re just such a close team, and we have a special bond that has taken us this far. It’s pretty special.
On his match…
“I played a good match. I felt pretty comfortable out there. Once I got that early break in the second set, I kind of just rolled. I was just playing loose and playing relaxed and just having fun out there, just trying to enjoy my last run here, and it’s just been incredible.
On being a senior and working to get to the next step…
“Coach talks about all the stories of them winning the national championship. It’s pretty inspiring. We’re just really inspired right now, and we’re look- ing to take that championship. We’re not settling for anything less.
North Carolina Head Coach Sam Paul
Comments on the match…
“First of all congratulations to Georgia, they played a great a match, they just out-played us today. The doubles point was key; they got a lot mo- mentum from that. The sad thing for us, it’s your last chance to coach, Brett Clark. Our seniors worked so hard. He’s been to three elite eights in his career. Andrew Gores, he came back for a fifth year. I’m really proud of him, how hard he worked. I appreciate what he did coming back for his fifth year, and Stuart DePaolo. That’s the sad thing about today, we don’t have another day to coach those guys and work with those guys. I want to congratulate my guys on a great season. We were a little bit injured coming in and that was unfortunate for us. But again, Georgia just out-played us anyway, that’s the way sports go sometimes. We weren’t able to handle it. Congratulations to them. This was record-breaking year for us, our kids won a National Championship in February, and we’ve been highly ranked consistently all year, and looking forward to next year.
The other late afternoon quarterfinal matched up UCLA and Oklahoma. There wasn’t any doubt who the locals were cheering for with the crowd roaring every time Oklahoma won a point.
Oklahoma got off to the hot start at both No. 1 and No. 2 doubles while UCLA was running away with the match at No. 3. UCLA’s Maxime Cressy and Austin Rapp broke OU to go up 3-1 and then they’d break again for 5-1 and serve it out for a 6-1 win. OU’s Axel Alvarez and Andrew Harris jumped out to a 3-0 lead at No. 1 and would upset the ITA No. 2 ranked team of Mackenzie McDonald and Martin Redlicki 6-3. The doubles point would be decided in a tiebreak at No. 2 between OU’s Alex Ghilea and Spencer Papa and UCLA’s Joseph Di Giulio and Karue Sell. Ghilea and Papa won the first four points of the tiebreak but Di Giulio and Sell would take four of the next five to pull within 5-4. Papa would take the next two on his serve to win it 7-6(4).
Each team took three opening sets in singles and four of the six matches would finish in straight sets. OU sophomore Spencer Papa put the Sooners ahead 2-0 with a straight set win over Gage Brymer at No. 3. Papa broke Brymer to go up 3-1 in the first and he’d make that break lead hold up for a 6-3 opening set. Papa broke Brymer to start the second set and he’d eventually lead 5-3 but Brymer would hold for 4-5. Papa had three match points on his serve after going up 40-15 but Brymer would come back to get the break for 5-5. Brymer had to start off his next game down 0-15 because of a point penalty for excessive noise (I thought I heard the chair say it was due to the noise from the UCLA bench area). Papa would break Brymer on a double fault to go up 6-5 and then he’s serve it out from 40-15 to win it 6-3, 7-5.
Moments later Karue Sell would put UCLA on the board with a straight set win over Alex Ghilea at No. 4. Sell broke Ghilea to go up 6-5 in the first but Ghilea broke back to force a tiebreak. Sell would roll through the tiebreak and win it 7-3. Ghilea went up a break at 3-2 in the second but Sell won the final four games to take it 7-6, 6-3.
Florin Bragusi would put Oklahoma ahead 3-1 after he defeated Logan Staggs in straight sets at No. 5. Bragusi broke Staggs to start the match but Staggs would break back for 3-all. Braugsi would immediately break back and a few games later he would take set 6-4. Bragusi broke Staggs to go up 3-2 in the second but he would be broke serving for the match to even it at 5-5. Bragusi would break back and then he’d serve it out at love to win 6-4, 7-5.
UCLA sophomore Martin Redlicki would put the Bruins second point on the board with a straight set win over Axel Alvarez at No. 2. Redlicki won the first set 7-5 after breaking Alvarez’s 5-6 service game. Alvarez would break for 2-1 in the second and he’d eventually lead 5-3. Redlicki would take the next three games to go up 6-5 and he’d have three match points after going up 15-40 on Alvarez’s serve. Alvarez managed to fight each off to send it to a tiebreak. Redlicki went up 6-2 in the tiebreak but Alvarez would take three straight to pull within 6-5. Redlicki would win it on the next point when an Alvarez backhand sailed long.
The deciding match would be at No. 6 between UCLA junior Joseph Di Giulio and Oklahoma freshman Andre Biro. Di Giulio looked like he’d close this match out in straight sets win he led 6-4, 4-1 but Biro charged back and took six of the next seven games to take the second set 7-5. Di Giulio went up 2-0 in the second but Biro rattled off four straight games to go ahead 4-2 (Di Giulio was broke on his 2-1 service game when he called a Biro shot long at 30-40 but upon Biro’s appeal the chair overruled the call). Di Giulio came back from 30-40 down to hold for 3-4. Biro would hold easily from 40-15 to go up 5-3 and then he’d break from 30-40 to clinch the win.
6. Andre Biro (Oklahoma) def. Joseph Di Giulio (UCLA), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
Order of Finish: 3, 4, 5, 2, 1, 6
Oklahoma Head Coach John Roddick
On his team’s win…
“It was a great match. The doubles came down to the end. In the singles, UCLA fought incredibly hard. They just played tremendous. We’ve had three of those with UCLA the last three years, so we expected them to play well, and that’s what they did. You have to give UCLA a lot of credit for how they competed. It was an incredible effort by both teams. I thought after they won at 1 and 2, and we were down a break at 6, it doesn’t look great there, but you just keep fighting and going, and (Andre) Biro did a really nice job of stepping up and not letting the moment get to him at all, and just played rock solid tennis. It was just a great match, and too bad someone had to lose that one.
On whether they were worried about UCLA coming back after losing the doubles point (had lost 5 of 6 doubles points)…
“I didn’t know. I probably should have. I didn’t know. We talk about the doubles point, I’m sure other teams do too, where if you win or lose it, you just have to put it behind you. Obviously in the back of your mind when you’re thinking you have to win three, it’s a lot easier road. I didn’t know. It’s like what I said in the opening statement, UCLA all those guys competed hard. That’s why they’re able to do that. That’s an interesting stat, and a lot of credit to them just to keep competing no matter what it’s looking like out there.
On coming back from two down in singles….
“That’s kind of the spot of the match where we just lost those two that I alluded to earlier. That was for us, and for everybody, a big moment in the match. For Andre (Biro) to settle down and get the break back early in that set so you’re not fighting uphill the whole way, was really good for a freshman to be able to come in and settle down and execute, and get some great passing shots there and earn some points. So that was huge to get right back in it at that particular moment. No player or coach is going to want to be down it’s 3-all and then you’re down 2-0 at the third break. Everybody will take being up 2-0. Right there, you have to figure out what you need to do to execute, and then you have to go do it. Andre did a great job in that moment.
On the crowd support…
“It was great. It was a great environment. That was probably by far the most people that have ever watched the Sooners play tennis. I’m sure for the guys it’s fun to play in. I can speak from experience playing at Georgia in front of Georgia in the NCAA’s, and it’s something you never forget.
Spencer Papa, Oklahoma (#3 singles)
On the importance of doubles and his match specifically…
“I think that me and Alex were starting to play some of our best doubles and we have kind of struggled throughout the season, but we have been practicing for the last couple of weeks, just focusing on doubles, and it paid off today.
On what it is like to be here in Tulsa for the tournament…
“We’re lucky we are close and have a bunch of fans that can come out. I have played on these courts for the last three or four years, so I am used to them and I think that was a little bit of an advantage for me today.
UCLA Head Coach Billy Martin
“We have had some really good matches with Oklahoma in the past three years, and we haven’t been successful. The doubles point was really crucial, and I thought that we fought back really good in the No. 2 doubles position. I thought we fought pretty well in singles. Obviously, we had a chance to win that No. 6 singles position after being up a set, and that’s one we probably shouldn’t have let slip away but unfortunately we did. That young man (OU’s Andre Biro) hung in there and played pretty well to win that match, but a great college tennis match. There were two good teams fighting their hearts out today, and unfortunately we were on the bottom side. There is nothing to be ashamed of because that is a really good team. Oklahoma has taken there lumps without Harris in their line-up, but I knew with him in the line-up it’s a completely different team and as good of a team as there is in college tennis. I think they have a good as chance as anybody else left to win the tournament.