Tulsa reaches uncharted territory
Win vs. Longhorns came one day after topping host Oklahoma
NORMAN, Okla. -- Tulsa avoided a comeback attempt by Texas, and the Golden Hurricane defeated the Longhorns 4-3 Saturday evening at Headington Family Tennis Center in the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championship.
No. 36 Tulsa (21-7) advances to its first Round of 16 appearance in school history, and the Golden Hurricane will travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on No. 4 Ohio State May 19 at Taube Tennis Center.
No. 14 Texas ended its season with a 19-9 record.
"Words can't describe how I feel right now," Tulsa head coach Vince Westbrook said. "I've said all year that this is the most talented team I've coached, and we proved it today by advancing to the first [Round of 16] in school history.
"It's pretty rare for any team in any sport to be able to defeat Oklahoma and Texas on back-to-back days, and we were able to do that this weekend."
The match took longer than five hours to complete, and this came on the heels of another five-hour affair the day before when TU defeated host Oklahoma 4-2.
Tulsa began the long day by winning the doubles point in sensational fashion, and that would prove to be the deciding factor in the match.
The No. 24-ranked pair of junior Ashley Watling and sophomore Clifford Marsland chiseled out an 8-3 victory against Ed Corrie and Vasko Mladenov at the top position. The doubles point was up for grabs after the sophomore duo of Tristan Jackson and Grant Ive lost their first match 8-4 to Jean Andersen and Daniel Whitehead at No. 3.
Sophomore Marcelo Arevalo and freshman Japie De Klerk sealed the doubles point for the blue and gold after dropping Ben Chen and Kellen Damico 9-7 at the second position.
Singles play began on a sour note for Tulsa as No. 62 De Klerk struggled against No. 48 Damico at the second position, falling 6-3, 6-1.
With the match knotted at 1-1, the Golden Hurricane took control by posting set victories and match wins all over the place.
The next match to be decided came on Court No. 4, when No. 99 Marsland defeated Chen 6-2, 6-3 by using an aggressive style of play that had Chen baffled.
No. 27 Arevalo pushed Texas to the brink of elimination when he cruised past No. 35 Corrie 6-4, 6-2 at the top of the lineup.
Jackson lost the first set 6-2 to Whitehead, but he rebounded with a 6-4 win in the second set. He was unable to keep the momentum going into the final set, and Texas got on the board when Whitehead took the third set 6-1.
At the time Jackson lost his match, Ive and No. 88 Watling were both in third sets.
Tulsa needed just one more point to stamp its ticket to Stanford (host of the Round of 16), but Texas would not go quietly.
Anderson defeated Watling 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-3 from the third position to even the match at 3-3, and the attention of everyone in attendance fell squarely on Court No. 5.
That is where Ive and Mladenov were playing a fierce three-setter. Ive won the first set 7-6 (7-5). He fell behind 4-0 in the tiebreak, but won seven of the next eight points to take the first set. Mladenov captured the second set 7-5, and the two went into the final frame.
Ive broke the serve of his Longhorn combatant in the opening game of the decisive third set, and the two competitors held serve the rest of the way until Ive took a 5-3 lead. That was when Mladenov began to really feel the pressure on his serve, and the sophomore member of the Golden Hurricane found himself with two match points and a 15-40 advantage.
Mladenov fended off the first match point, but Ive made the second one count as he sent the entire Tulsa contingent into a jubilant eruption.
The victory gave Westbrook the first win agianst Texas in his illustrious 20-year career (1-11).