NORMAN – No. 14 Oklahoma men’s tennis took care of business Friday evening at the Headington Family Tennis Center, defeating Wichita State 6-1, pushing its winning streak to four matches.
The Sooners (6-1) earned the doubles point to open the match after wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles. At the No. 1 spot, senior Andrew Harris and junior Spencer Papa teamed up to defeat Wichita State’s (2-3) Haru Inoue and Eddie Stoica, 6-4. Oklahoma’s duo rose to No. 42 in the Oracle/ITA national doubles rankings earlier this week.
Seniors Florin Bragusi and Alex Ghilea were paired at the No. 2 spot for OU, defeating the Shockers’ tandem of Miroslav Herzan/Marius Frosa, 6-1, to clinch the doubles point. Oklahoma’s partnership of A.J. Chamdani and Adrian Oetzbach went unfinished at the third doubles spot.
Head coach Nick Crowell’s team kept it rolling in singles, with all six Sooners earning opening set wins.
The first to garner a singles point was Bragusi, who defeated Stoica, 6-4, 6-4. The win pushed the Oklahoma veteran - ranked No. 105 in singles - to 5-1 on the year in dual play singles.
Shortly after, at the No. 3 spot, Ghilea was victorious over Jocelyn Devilliers 6-4, 6-1. Then came wins from freshman Jochen Bertsch, 6-2, 7-5 over Merkel Dellien, and Papa, 7-6 (8), 6-2 over Miroslav Herzan, to extend Oklahoma’s lead to 4-0 on the evening.
Papa battled back from an early 1-5 hole in the tiebreak to win set one before winning his match in the second.
“I was just thinking that I definitely didn’t want to play a third set,” Papa said. “I just took it point-by-point and luckily I pulled through.”
“Spencer and I have talked a lot about stepping up when you’re down,” Crowell said. "It’s really just looking at it one point at a time. I felt like he did that, and he stayed positive and confident that he could still win that tiebreaker when he was 5-1 down.”
Harris continued his strong play this season, further extending Oklahoma’s lead to 6-0 after his win against Inoue at No. 1 singles. Harris is coming off back-to-back Big 12 Player of the Week honors and also being being named ITA’s Big Mover of the Week on Wednesday, soaring from unranked to No. 27 in the nation in singles.
Perhaps the most impressive showing of the evening came in Oklahoma’s lone loss. At No. 5 singles, freshman Adrian Oetzbach fought back from down two breaks (5-2) against Frosa in the third set to force a tiebreak. The German freshman fought off several Frosa match points, but eventually fell in the 44-minute long tiebreak, 20-18, and in his match, 0-6, 7-5, 7-6 (18).
Despite the loss, Ghilea was proud of his teammate for the way he battled.
“He showed us that he has a lot of grit and passion,” Ghilea said about Oetzbach. “It would have been so much easier for him to just say, ‘okay, set is over, let’s just go eat’. Instead, he fought, he stayed there and he got to a point where he could have won.
“I’m glad for him - that he fought - because it shows us that we can count on him whenever it’s hard,” Ghilea added. “He never gave up, so we’re really proud of him and there’s no reason for him to hold his head down.”
Crowell was just as proud of his freshman for bouncing back down two breaks and nearly taking the singles point.
“I challenged Adrian when he was 2-5 down, and I told him that this was a test to see how tough he was,” Crowell said. “He showed me a lot. He showed a lot of guts.”
The Sooners, who have won four straight matches, face a quick turnaround and take on Alabama at 1 p.m. CT Sunday at the Headington Family Tennis Center. As always, admission for fans will be free and there will be free pizza for all in attendance..
For more on Oklahoma men’s tennis, follow the team on Twitter @OU_MTennis.
1. #42 Harris/Papa def. Inoue/Stoica - 6-4
2. Ghilea/Bragusi def. Herzan/Frosa - 6-1
3. Chamdani/Oetzbach vs. Dellien/Devilliers - 5-4 UNF
1. #27 Andrew Harris def. Haru Inoue - 7-6, 6-4
2. #24 Spencer Papa def. Miroslav Herzan - 7-6 (8), 6-2
3. Alex Ghilea def. Jocelyn Devilliers- 6-4, 6-1
4. #105 Florin Bragusi def. Eddie Stoica - 6-4, 6-4
5. Marius Frosa def. Adrian Oetzbach - 0-6, 7-5, 7-6 (20-18)
6. Jochen Bertsch def. Murkel Dellien - 6-2, 7-5