NORMAN -- The Oklahoma men’s tennis team dropped its first home match of the 2017 season on Sunday to No. 21 Cornell, falling 4-3, at the Headington Family Tennis Center in Norman, Okla.
"Give credit to Cornell today," head coach Nick Crowell said. "They came into our place and took it to us on a lot of different courts. We tried to make a run in the middle of the match but we fell short at the end."
The Sooners, ranked No. 7 in the Oracle/ITA team rankings, were rolling from the opening serve in doubles, taking the point thanks to wins on courts two and three. At the No. 3 spot, freshman Jochen Bertsch and junior walk-on Mason Bridegan swept Cornell's Al Hill and Pietro Rimondini, 6-0. The win was the first of Bridegan's collegiate career in dual play.
Freshman Adrian Oetzbach and senior Alex Ghilea teamed up at the second spot to defeat the Big Red's Chris Vrabel and Bernardo Casares Rosa, 6-2, clinching the doubles point for Oklahoma.
Singles was tight in the opening sets for both sides, with Oklahoma and Cornell each taking three first sets. The Sooners showed their fight, with senior Spencer Papa and Bertsch winning two first set tiebreakers before pulling away in their second sets.
Papa, ranked No. 21 in singles, was the first to win his match, defeating David Volfson 7-5, 6-1 to move to 4-2 at the No. 1 spot on the season. After his first-set breaker, Papa dominated the second set on his way to victory.
After Cornell took the next two singles points, Bertsch stepped up in a big way on court six, defeating Rosa 7-6 (7-1), 6-4. The win pushed the Mannheim, Germany, native to 9-2 on the season in singles, and gave Oklahoma a 3-2 edge.
The Big Red used a win at line five singles to even up the match at 3-3, before Cornell's Lev Kazakov earned a win at No. 2 singles over Ghilea to give No. 21 Cornell the 4-3 win. The win moved Cornell to 14-2 in 2017.
"They guy playing Alex there at the end, Kazakov, really went for his shots and you have to give the guy credit," Crowell said. "As a team we have to do a better job coming out with energy and getting those first sets. We'll learn from today."
The loss puts the Sooners at 10-4 on the season, with just one day before their next match. The Sooners travel to Malibu, Calif., for a meeting with Pepperdine on March 14 at 4 p.m. CT. Crowell and his squad will then make the short trip to Indian Wells, Calif., for the BNP Paribas Open Collegiate Challenge presented by Oracle from March 17-19.
For more information on Oklahoma men's tennis, follow the team on Twitter @OU_MTennis.
1. #59 Bragusi/Papa (OU) vs. Sinclair/Volfson - 3-4, UNF
2. Ghilea/Oetzbach (OU) def. Vrabel/Casares Rosa - 6-2
3. Bridegan/Bertsch (OU) def. Hill/Rimondini - 6-0
1. #21 Spencer Papa def. David Volfson - 7-5, 6-1
2. Lev Kazakov def. #101 Alex Ghilea - 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
3. Colin Sinclair def. #77 Florin Bragusi - 6-3, 6-4
4. Chris Vrabel def. Adrian Oetzbach - 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
5. Rimondini def. Arnaud Restifo - 6-4, 1-6, 6-3
6. Jochen Bertsch def. Casares Rosa - 7-6 (7-1), 6-4