NORMAN – Oklahoma began postseason play Thursday with one of its biggest wins of the season, defeating No. 9 Texas 4-3 in the opening round of the 2017 Big 12 Men's Tennis Championships at the Headington Family Tennis Center in Norman, Okla.
Senior Alex Ghilea was the man of the match, coming through in the biggest moment by clinching the win for his team with a three-set victory with the dual tied 3-3.
"I just played the way I play and didn't think too much about it," Ghilea said. "George (Goldhoff) played a great match, and he's a really good friend of mine. I think we always play good matches against each other."
After dropping the second set to Goldhoff, Ghilea was down a break early at 0-2 in the third. The senior leader used a burst of energy to win six consecutive games, including 10 straight points, to win the match 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-2. Ghilea, a native of Neamt, Romania, moved to 16-3 in dual play singles.
"The doubles point is always important and today we got the doubles. We've been preaching doubles, so hopefully these guys come out tomorrow against TCU and come out with another great doubles point."
- OU head coach Nick Crowell
To begin the day, the fourth-seeded Sooners took the doubles point against a top-10 team for the second consecutive match. Oklahoma's No. 2 tandem of Florin Bragusi and Ghilea opened the day with a 6-2 win over Colin Markes and Leo Telles, moving to 8-5 as partners in 2017.
OU clinched the point on court one, where Andrew Harris and Spencer Papa defeated Christian Sigsgaard and Goldhoff, 6-4. Harris and Papa improved to 7-3 as a doubles tandem in dual play.
“The doubles point is always important and today we got the doubles,” head coach Nick Crowell said. “We've been preaching doubles, so hopefully these guys come out tomorrow against TCU and come out with another great doubles point.”
Singles was a back-and-forth affair throughout, with no team holding more than a one-point lead in the entire dual. Texas evened up the match with a win at No. 6 singles and followed that with a win at the No. 2 spot to take a 2-1 lead, but Oklahoma continued pushing.
Freshman Jochen Bertsch leveled the match at 2-2 using a 6-3, 7-5 win over Rodrigo Banzer at No. 5 singles. The Mannheim, Germany, native extended his singles record to 13-6 with the victory.
Left on the courts for Oklahoma were three seniors in Ghilea, Harris and Bragusi, a trio that has seen more than their fair share of pressure moments in their Oklahoma careers.
Bragusi, the nation's 107th-ranked singles player, continued his strong stretch of play this year with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 win over No. 53 Leo Telles, making it 3-2 Oklahoma in the dual.
“At the end of the match, Florin really stepped up and hit some big shots when it was time to win, and that's all our guys did today," Crowell said. "They played big when it was time to win and that's what we've been talking about in the locker room.”
After No. 28 Christian Sigsgaard was victorious at No. 1 singles to even up the dual again at 3-3, Ghilea earned the clinching win for the Sooners.
With the win, Oklahoma moved to 14-9 and earned a place in the semifinals where the Crimson and Cream will face top-seeded TCU on Friday. The match is scheduled for 10 a.m. CT , and will be played outdoors at the Headington Family Tennis Center, weather permitting.
For more information on Oklahoma men's tennis, follow the team on Twitter @OU_MTennis.