NORMAN – The No. 18 Oklahoma men’s tennis team dropped their first match of the spring season Sunday to No. 16 Illinois, 4-1.
With the win, the Fighting Illini (2-0) qualify for the ITA National Indoor Championships. The Sooners (6-1) defeated the Fighting Illini a season ago at the ITA Kickoff in Norman to advance to National Indoors, but Illinois flipped the script this time around.
“We needed a little more poise in the middle part of the singles, but we had guys fighting back. Give credit to Jake Van Emburgh, he got that point on the board for us,” OU head coach Nick Crowell said. "Alex Bakshi was deep in the third set with one of the best two or three guys in the country. Alex is playing great tennis right now, same for Jochen Bertsch down there at No. 5. That match was going to go either way. Again, really proud of Adrian Oetzbach there at No. 3. He hung in there and really helped us get to the deep part of the match by splitting sets with (Alex) Brown. But Brown stepped up and hit some big serves when it mattered and that was the end of the match.”
The Sooners dropped the doubles point for the first time this season after a tiebreaker on court three went Illinois’ way. OU's tandem of Bakshi and James Davis battled to the
OU's No. 1 doubles team of Ferran Calvo and Jake Van Emburgh won its match over the Illini duo of Aleks Vukic and Vuk Budic, 6-1. The Fighting Illini's Zeke Clark and Aleks Kovacevic topped OU's Jochen Bertsch and Adrian Oetzbach, 6-3, at the No. 2 line.
In singles play, Illinois' Aron Hiltzik put the Illini up 2-0 in the match with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over the Sooners’ Ferran Calvo on court two. Sooner freshman Jake Van Emburgh went undefeated in singles and doubles action this weekend and gave the Sooners their only point of the match with a 6-1, 7-6 (3) victory over Illinois’ Aleks Kovacevic from the No. 4 line.
Illinois extended its lead to 3-1 as OU's Max Stewart fell 6-2, 6-4 on court six to Caleb Chakravarthi.
On court three, Oetzbach battled back after dropping the first set to Illinois’ Alex Brown but ultimately fell 6-2, 2-6, 6-3, allowing the Fighting Illini to clinch the match.
At the No. 1 spot, Alex Bakshi was locked in a tight battle in the third set with Illinois’ Aleks Vukic before play was halted (4-6, 6-1, 3-4). Jochen Bertsch was also in a third set versus Illinois' Aleks Kovacevic (6-3, 4-6, 0-3) when play was suspended.
The Sooners return to action on Feb. 9 when they travel to in-state foe Tulsa to face the Golden Hurricane at Case Tennis Center. Match time is set for 6 p.m. CT.
“We have a little time, it’s the first time this semester to recover and get our bodies right and really try to make some strides, fitness-wise and in the weight room," Crowell stated. "We’ll make little adjustments in our guys' games and move forward into the season.”
For more information on OU men's tennis, follow the team on Twitter @OU_MTennis.
No. 16 Illinois 4, No. 18 OU 1
1. Alex Bakshi (OU) vs. Aleks Vukic (ILL) 4-6, 6-1, 3-4, unfinished
2. Aron Hiltzik (ILL) def. #17 Ferran Calvo (OU) 6-2, 6-0
3. Alex Brown (ILL) def. Adrian Oetzbach (OU) 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
4. Jake van Emburgh (OU) def. Aleks Kovacevic (ILL) 6-1, 7-6 (3)
5. Jochen Bertsch (OU) vs. Zeke Clark (ILL) 6-3, 4-6, 0-3, unfinished
6. Caleb Chakravarthi (ILL) def. Max Stewart (OU) 6-2, 6-4
1. Ferran Calvo/Jake van Emburgh (OU) def. Aleks Vukic/Vuk Budic (UI) 6-1
2. Zeke Clark/Aleks Kovacevic (ILL) def. Jochen Bertsch/Adrian Oetzbach (OU) 6-3
3. Alex Brown/Caleb Chakravarthi (ILL) def. Alex Bakshi/James Davis (OU) 7-6 (5)
Order of finish: Doubles (1, 2, 3); Singles (2, 4, 6, 3)