NORMAN – In its first outdoor match of the year, the Oklahoma men’s tennis team relied on the strength of its veterans, overcoming an early deficit to earn a 4-3 win over Pepperdine in Malibu, Calif.
The win made it three times this season the Sooners have rebounded from dropping the doubles point to win the dual. Oklahoma also defeated Arkansas and then-No. 6 Florida with four points in singles.
Pepperdine continued its push in singles after taking a 1-0 lead, giving the Sooners all that they could handle, especially early in set one. One Sooner who stood out was senior Alex Ghilea, who won 6-0 at No. 2 doubles with teammate Adrian Oetzbach, while also cruising in singles with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Lautaro Peno. The win pushed Ghilea to 10-2 overall in singles in 2017.
Oklahoma, in the absence of senior leader Andrew Harris, earned its second point of the day via junior Spencer Papa, who used a clutch win in a first set tiebreaker to defeat Guilherme Hadlich 7-6, 6-1 at the No. 1 spot. Papa, an Edmond, Okla., native is now 5-2 playing at No. 1 singles this season.
Freshman Jochen Bertsch gave OU its first lead of the contest with a 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 5 singles over Jack van Slyke. Bertsch also moved to 10-2 in singles with his victory.
The Waves would knot it up at 3-3 following a win on court six, leaving the fate of the dual to senior Florin Bragusi versus Pedro Iamachkine at No. 3 singles.
Bragusi, a senior from Ramnicu Valnea, Romania, has plenty of experience when it comes to clutch moments, and he used that against Iamachkine, coming back from a first-set loss to win the match 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 and give Oklahoma the 4-3 victory. With the win, Bragusi became the third Sooner at 10-2 in singles.
The win pushes Oklahoma, ranked No. 9 in the Oracle/ITA team rankings, to 11-4 on the season. There’s not much time to rest for the Sooners, who will be back in action on Friday to kick off the BNP Paribas Open Collegiate Challenge presented by Oracle in Indian Wells, Calif. Head coach Nick Crowell and his squad will return home on Friday, March 31 at 6 p.m. when they take on Texas at the Headington Family Tennis Center.
As always, admission to all regular season matches will be free for all fans. For more information on Oklahoma men’s tennis, follow the team on Twitter @OU_MTennis.