NORMAN – Oklahoma men’s tennis capped off its weekend in a big way on Sunday at the 2017 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Va., bouncing back from dropping the doubles point to defeat Florida 4-2.
The 14th-ranked Sooners came into Sunday off of another top-10 win on Saturday over No. 7 Northwestern, winning 4-3. Florida, ranked No. 6 in the nation in the Oracle/ITA national rankings, was victorious over No. 16 Mississippi State on Saturday.
The Gators took the doubles point to begin the afternoon but for the second time this season the Sooners, who were playing without normal No. 1 singles player Andrew Harris, recovered by taking four singles points to clinch the match.
"The doubles did not go our way but our guys all responded like champions," Oklahoma head coach Nick Crowell said. "We talked all week about who we are and how we play. Our guys played to win the match and took it from the Gators."
Senior Alex Ghilea put Oklahoma on the board at No. 2 singles with an impressive 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 24 Chase Perez-Blanco. The win pushed the Neamt, Romania, native to 8-1 in singles on the year.
The Sooners earned their first lead of the day thanks to freshman Adrian Oetzbach’s win at line four singles over No. 109 Johanes Ingildsen, 6-3, 6-2. The victory was the first over a ranked opponent in Oetzbach’s young career.
"The doubles did not go our way but our guys all responded like champions. We talked all week about who we are and how we play. Our guys played to win the match and took it from the Gators."
- Head Coach Nick Crowell
Following Florida’s win at No. 5 singles to even the match at 2-2, senior Florin Bragusi came through once again for Oklahoma, bouncing back from a first-set loss to defeat No. 60 Elliott Orkin, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 and put his team back on top, 3-2. Like his Romanian counterpart Ghilea, Bragusi also now sits at 8-1 in singles this year.
"Florin and Alex were like solid rocks all weekend and were the backbone all week," Crowell said of the two seniors. "I'm really proud of the leadership they are showing."
Ranked 24th in the nation in singles, Papa’s match against No. 9 Alfredo Perez was tight from the first serve. Papa, an Edmond, Okla., native managed to pull out a big first-set tiebreaker win to give himself the edge in the match, but he wasn’t done yet. The second set seesawed into another tiebreaker, where Papa was once again victorious to earn a 7-6, 7-6, win to clinching the 4-2 win for Oklahoma.
"Spencer played one of his best matches of the year and showed he is one of the nation's elite players today," Crowell said. "Today all of our guys stepped up big when we were down a man. Everyone did their job and did it well, and I'm really proud of the effort and toughness this team showed this weekend. We're excited to turn our attention to Tulsa next Friday night."
Bertsch’s matchup would go unfinished. He led the third set 5-4.
The win over the 6th-ranked Gators expanded Oklahoma’s record over top-25 foes to 4-2 in 2017. The Crimson and Cream, now 9-2 on the year, will next be in action versus Tulsa at the Headington Family Tennis Center in Norman, Okla., on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. CT. As always, admission for regular season matches is free for all fans.
For more information on Oklahoma men’s tennis, follow the team on Twitter @OU_MTennis.
1. #24 Spencer Papa (OU) def. #9 Alfredo Perez (FLA) - 7-6, 7-6 (7-4)
2. Alex Ghilea (OU) def. #24 Chase Perez-Blanco (FLA) - 6-2, 6-2
3. #105 Florin Bragusi (OU) def. #60 Elliott Orkin (FLA) - 5-7, 6-3, 6-1
4. Adrian Oetzbach (OU) def. #109 Johannes Ingildsen (FLA) - 6-3, 6-2
5. #76 McClain Kessler (FLA) def. A.J. Chamdani (OU) - 1-6, 6-2, 6-2
6. Jordan Belga (FLA) vs. Jochen Bertsch (OU) - 6-2, 4-6, 4-5, unfinished
1. #7 Alfredo Perez/Johannes Ingildsen (FLA) def. Jochen Bertsch/Spencer Papa (OU) 6-4
2. Maxx Lipman/Josh Wardell (FLA) def. Alex Ghilea/Florin Bragusi (OU) 6-3
3. A.J. Chamdani/Adrian Oetzbach (OU) def. Elliott Orkin/Chase Perez-Blanco (FLA) 6-4