Cal squeaks past Texas Tech
McLachlan brothers help lead Golden Bears to round of 16
BERKELEY, Calif. -- Down to the wire, 14th-seeded California(14-11) used a pair of points from brothers Ben and Riki McLachlan to complete a 4-3 victory against Texas Tech (16-9) in the second round of the 2012 NCAA championships at the Hellman Tennis Complex on Sunday, May 13. The Golden Bears have now advanced to the round of 16 six times under head coach Peter Wright and are into the third round for the second consecutive season.
"It was incredibly special to have the two brothers, on Mother's Day, come through for us," said Wright. "We looked like we were dead to rights, and it didn't look too good there, for a while. We were struggling hard, and Texas Tech was really solid, today. But we knew if we stayed in there and hung in there long enough, that we could pull off the win. I had a lot of faith and confidence in our team and it was great to see our Bears come through with a very big win."
37th-ranked Ben McLachlan's three-set win (3-6, 6-4, 6-2) against No. 40 Gonzalo Escobar at the top singles court lifted the Bears to their win, but it was Riki McLachlan's three-setter against Francisco Zambon on court five that put Cal in position to win at all. Down, 4-2, in his third set, Riki McLachlan came all the way back to finish off Zambon, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4, and help send the Bears into the round of 16.
"It's the best feeling in the world," said Ben McLachlan. "It was a tough match. In the first set, I didn't think I was playing poorly, but he [Escobar] was playing well. Second set, I just hung in there, and I could see that he was getting tired. I was pretty confident in my conditioning, so I just tried to keep him running and in the third set, it worked out for me. I was just praying that my brother would get that win and I am so proud of him."
In three hard-fought doubles matches, the Bears emerged with the first point of the dual on wins from courts two and three. Cal kicked the day off with an 8-4 win on court three where its freshman duo of Gregory Bayane and Andrew Scholnick completed a victory against Gabriel Wanderley and Zambon.
With a slim 5-4 lead on the top court and a 5-3 lead on court two, the Bears were in for a battle. At No. 1 doubles, Cal's sixth-ranked tandem of senior Nick Andrews and junior Christoffer Konigsfeldt had fought their way to a 7-6 lead but the Red Raiders stayed on serve as their 18th-ranked team of Raony Carvalho and Escobar earned a seven-all tie.
At court two, Cal's 66th-ranked team of senior Carlos Cueto and sophomore Ben McLachlan halted play when they finished off Rafael Garcia and Vitor Manzini, 8-4, on court two. With the point decided, the match at the top court was suspended.
The Raiders earned service breaks on several courts as singles matches opened. On court five, junior Riki McLachlan ran ahead to a 5-0 lead against Zambon, but the Bears found themselves behind on each of the top four courts. Texas Tech earned 6-2 first-set wins on courts two, three, and four, but Riki McLachlan completed a 6-0 victory as second sets got under way.
Texas Tech earned splits on the bottom two courts but Konigsfeldt came up with a split of his own on court three where he turned a 6-2 loss in the first into a 6-1 win in the second. The Raiders got on the board with a win at court two when 79th-ranked Carvalho edged 58th-ranked Andrews, 6-2, 7-5, to tie the dual at one-all.
The Red Raiders climbed ahead for a 2-1 lead on a win from court four where Manzini produced the same score as Carvalho in a 6-2, 7-5 win against Bayane. Meanwhile, at court three, Konigsfeldt was nursing a 4-3 lead against Garcia in the third set with tight battles on the top and bottom courts.
Konigsfeldt set things off for the Bears when he turned his slight lead into a three-set victory and tied the dual at two-all. Konigsfeldt had come back from his first-set loss to defeat Garcia, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, and sparked the beginning of Cal's comeback run. The Raiders earned their own three-set win to go back ahead, 3-2, when Raphael Pfister completed his comeback against freshman Chase Melton on court six, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Down to the two McLachlan brothers in third sets, Riki found himself down, 4-2, to Zambon on court five, and Ben held a 2-0 lead against Escobar at the top court. Riki flipped a switch and turned his fortunes around as he won three consecutive games to claim a 5-4 lead. Ben held serve to earn a 4-2 lead at the top court and put the Bears in position to win the dual.
The elder McLachlan got the job done first, as he won his fourth consecutive game for a 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 win against Zambon at court five. With only Ben McLachlan left on court, all attention turned to his 5-2 third-set lead against Escobar at the top singles court. Things looked promising as the younger McLachlan served a pair of aces to pull out to a 40-love lead, but Escobar climbed back into the game to force deuce point. Escobar went long on a baseline shot before McLachlan went cross-court to seal the deal for the Bears.
Cal faces third-seeded Virginia in the round of 16 on Friday, May 18, at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.