Dominant from start to finish, the 11th-seeded Oklahoma men’s tennis team swept No. 6-seed Wake Forest 4-0 on Friday night at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla., to advance to the quarterfinals round of the NCAA Championship for the third straight year and the fourth time in the seven-year tenure of head coach John Roddick.
“We played the best match that we have played all year tonight, and so it’s coming together right now,” Roddick said. “I’d like to congratulate Wake Forest on the season they had after winning the ACC tournament. They have been an impressive team, and obviously they beat us twice, but we didn’t have this guy (Andrew Harris) in the line-up. Andrew, being in the line-up, changes the complexion of the match, and I think every coach knows that.”
OU played one of its best doubles points of the year, getting a 6-2 win from its top pair of No. 24 Axel Alvarez and Andrew Harris. The Sooners No. 1 squad took a pair of breaks early and cruised to victory over the 13th-ranked duo of Skander Mansouri and Christian Seraphim.
OU clinched the opening point when Alex Ghilea and Spencer Papa won 6-4 over the 79th-ranked duo of Petros Chrysochos and Jon Ho. The match was knotted at 4-all when OU won a critical break to lead 5-4. Papa dominated his service game to earn the hold and deliver the point for Oklahoma.
“We have been focused as a team for a little while now,” Roddick said. “That’s the one thing that I feel is out of a coach’s control. By nature coaches are control freaks. Your guys have to be leaders and you have to have internal team control that does not come from the top, and I think it’s something that we have found and our guys are doing better with it.”
The momentum from doubles rolled the Sooners into singles. Oklahoma swept the first sets on all six courts and before long was up 2-0 when Ghilea delivered a dominant 6-1, 6-0 win over Romain Bogaerts at the number four position. The junior from Neamt, Romania, took down his opponent in just under an hour.
Papa was the next Sooner to finish. Playing on the adjacent court to Ghilea, Papa won 6-3, 6-3 over Ho to put Oklahoma up 3-0 and just a point away from advancing. OU’s sophomore was aggressive from the start, forcing several break points before ultimately wearing down Ho.
With a 3-0 lead, OU was in fantastic shape on the remaining four courts, having won the first set in each. On court six, Andre Biro was two points away from taking the match, leading 5-1 in the second over Dennis Uspensky and on court two, Alvarez was serving for the match against No. 27 Chrysochos. But the clinching point would come from court one, where Harris took on No. 13 Mansouri.
In the first set both players traded breaks, but leading 5-4, Harris broke Mansouri’s serve to claim the first set. The second set saw fewer breaks, but Harris won several gritty service games, climbing back from 0-40 to hold. Harris broke Mansouri at 5-4 again in the second to claim the win and send OU to the elite eight.
“I feel amazing,” Harris said. “I felt so much relief after I won that match point. It’s been a very tough year for me, because my knee has been injured a while. I came back from that knee injury and played a few matches then I injured my groin a little bit. It’s just been very frustrating so this win gives me a lot of confidence going into my next match against UCLA.”
Oklahoma will take on No. 3-seed UCLA in the quarterfinals round on Sunday at 4 p.m. CT. OU faced the Bruins in the round of 16 a year ago, winning a 4-3 match that saw several rain delays. OU is hoping for another big crowd Sunday.
“I was surprised at how many people turned out,” Harris said. “We had tons of fans here so it was definitely nice. It was really great support.”
Fans can purchase tickets for Sunday’s match here.
For more information on Oklahoma Men’s Tennis, follow the team on Twitter at @OU_MTennis.
1. #24 Alvarez/Harris def. #13 Mansouri/Seraphim - 6-2
2. Ghilea/Papa def. #79 Chrysochos/Ho - 6-4
3. Bogaerts/Uspensky def. Biro/Mora - 6-0
Order of finish: 1, 3, 2
1. #97 Andrew Harris def. #13 Skander Mansouri - 6-4, 6-4
2. #25 Axel Alvarez vs. #27 Petros Chrysochos - 6-3, 5-4, DNF
3. #82 Spencer Papa def. Jon Ho - 6-3, 6-3
4.#61 Alex Ghilea def. Romain Bogaerts - 6-1, 6-0
5. Florin Bragusi vs. Daniel Armengol - 6-4, 4-4, DNF
6. Andre Biro vs. Dennis Uspensky - 6-4, 5-1, DNF
Order of finish:4, 3, 1