ATHENS, Ga.— The 2nd-seeded Oklahoma Sooners advanced to their first ever NCAA Championship appearance with a 4-2 win over UCLA Monday night at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Georgia. OU is the first Big 12 squad to appear in the finals since Texas in 2008.
“It was a really good hard fought match,” OU head coach John Roddick said. “I’m proud of our guys.”
Oklahoma (27-4, 4-1 Big 12) knew what a loss to UCLA (24-3, 6-1 Pac-12) would feel like as the Bruins topped the Sooners 4-2 in the ITA Indoor National Championships back in February.
Tied at 2-all, the deadlocked match looked like it could swing in either teams favor. On courts one and six, senior Guillermo Alcorta and freshman Alex Ghilea were in tiebreakers in their respective third sets. Losses in these matches could have sent the Sooners home one night too early.
Sooner Magic was in the air though as both men won their tiebreakers just seconds apart to clinch the victory and the chance to face USC in the championship on Tuesday night.
“I believed in myself,” Ghilea said. “I’m so happy. I did it for the team and it was a great match. I’m so happy we won as a team.”
“Once I lost the first set, Coach Roddick came to the court and I asked if that guy was really that much better than me and he said no,” Alcorta said. “I knew I had to stay in the match. I’m proud of my effort.”
For the majority of the doubles match, both teams held their serves with no team establishing a clear advantage. On court two, UCLA got a break at five-all and won the next three games to top the duo of Andrew Harris and Guillermo Alcorta, 8-5
Alex Ghilea and Nick Papac took their match to a tiebreak after UCLA tied it at seven. After the tiebreak went to five-all, the duo took the next two points to lock in their first doubles win since the regional.
Less than ten seconds later, the tandem of Axel Alvarez and Dane Webb locked up the doubles point for Oklahoma with an 8-6 win at the No. 1 spot. The Sooners are now 20-1 when winning the doubles point this season.
UCLA struck first in singles as Austin Siegel fell 6-2, 6-3 to Adrien Puget. Alvarez put the Sooners back on top with a straight set win. The sophomore topped Marcos Giron, currently ranked 2nd in the nation, 6-4, 6-2.
The match was tied at 2-all as Dane Webb fell 6-4, 6-4 to Mackenzie McDonald. That would be the last point of the night that the Bruins would earn as the Sooners took wins at No. 1 and No. 6.
This isn’t Roddick or associate head coach Bo Hodge’s first trip to the championship match. In 1998, Roddick was a part of the Georgia squad that was the runner-up to Stanford while Hodge was a member of Georgia’s 2001 National Championship team.
Oklahoma will face USC in the finals on Tuesday, May 19, at 4 p.m. CT. The Trojans won four straight titles from 2009-2012 and have eight total national titles. The Sooners will look to earn the first title for the program.
OKLAHOMA 4 UCLA 2
1. Alvarez/Webb (OU) def. Giron/McDonald (UCLA) 8-6
2. Sell/Puget (UCLA) def. Alcorta/Harris (OU) 8-5
3. Ghilea/Papc (OU) def. Thompson/Di Giulio (UCLA) 8-7 (7-5)
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1
1. Guillermo Alcorta (OU) def. Clay Thompson (UCLA) 0-6, 6-2, 7-6(5)
2. Axel Alvarez (OU) def. Marcos Giron (UCLA) 6-4, 6-2
3. Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) def. Dane Webb (OU) 6-4, 6-4
4. Andrew Harris (OU) vs. Gage Brymer (UCLA), DNF
5. Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. Austin Siegel (OU) 6-2, 6-3
6. Alex Ghilea (OU) def. Karue Sell (UCLA) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(5)
Order of Finish: 5, 2, 3, 6, 1