May 1, 2012

 

By Andrew Gilman

NORMAN, Okla. -- It was a weekend of firsts for the Sooner men’s tennis team and the Sooner women’s golf team.

Both won Big 12 championships, both made history for the first time in a long time and both came because of some well-timed team meetings.

While the tennis team won its first conference championship since 1992 and its first Big 12 title in school history, coach John Roddick said the season turned around early on with a players-only gathering after a March 16 loss to Virginia.

Since that meeting, the Sooners haven’t lost a match. They pocketed the Big 12 regular season title and then last weekend’s league tournament clincher over Baylor.

“They made sure we were all committed to what we were trying to do,” Roddick said. “They also knew if we played well, we could win every match after that.”

Meanwhile, it wasn’t scheduled, but the OU golfers met during the past weekend, too.

Thanks to some bad weather, high winds and rain in Lawrence, Kan., at the Big 12 Championship, the girls were forced off the course and inside. Except they didn’t talk strategy, they didn’t talk golf and they didn’t stress out.

“We played games and tried to have fun and not think too much,” said Chirapat Jao-Javanil, who finished second overall out of 50 competitors. “It was fun, we were drawing pictures and playing around.”

In addition to Javanil, OU’s Anne-Catherine Tanguay finished fourth while Jacki Marshall shot a third-round 73 and wound up tied for 16th with Taylor Schmidt.

It was OU’s first women’s golf conference championship since 2000 when the Sooners won the Big 12 title in Lubbock, Texas.

The women will head to the NCAA West Regional May 10-12 in Erie, Colo., at the Colorado National Golf Club.

The men’s tennis team will host its third straight NCAA Regional May 11-13 in Norman. The Sooners will face UMKC as they go for their 13th consecutive win in the first round of NCAA action. OU is ranked No. 11 nationally and freshman Dane Webb was named the Big 12 Championship’s Most Outstanding Player.

“Our first goal is to make it to the round of 16,” Roddick said of his team and the NCAA Championships. “That’s a huge goal. If we achieve that, we can re-evaluate. Right now, we don’t have any past that. Getting to that (round of 16 in Athens, Ga.) is a big deal.”

And the women golfers have similar goals as they try to make the top eight in Colorado and advance to the NCAA Championships.

“I think we are playing some good golf right now,” said Tanguay. “We have our goals and we’re really excited about it.”