ATHENS, Ga.— The Oklahoma men’s tennis team is making history.
After nearly five hours of play, the 2nd-seeded Sooners (27-3, 4-1 Big 12) topped the 7th-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels (26-6, -2 ACC), 4-2, to advance to the first ever Final Four appearance in program history.
"They really competed really well," OU head coach John Roddick said. "It was a very hard fought match and our guys did a great job mentally of not letting things get to them."
Due to rain in the Athens area, the match was delayed an hour and moved inside to the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Facility with only four courts to play on.
The Sooners dropped the doubles point for the first time in the tournament, falling on courts one and three. Nick Papac and Alex Ghilea fell, 8-6, at the No. 3 position and Axel Alvarez and Dane Webb were topped, 8-5, at No. 1.
Andrew Harris tied the match at 1-all with a straight set victory at the No. 4 position. The freshman dominated Oystein Sterio only giving up two games in his 6-1, 6-1 win.
Webb made an aggressive comeback after dropping his first set. The junior defeated Brett Clark 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to give Oklahoma its first lead of the match.
At the No. 2 spot, Alvarez showcased his ability to bounce back after falling 7-6 in his first set. The sophomore answered the first set loss by winning 12 straight games to defeat Ronnie Schneider 6-0, 6-0 in the final two sets.
Due to only having four courts, Ghilea and sophomore Austin Siegel began their matches with the Sooners leading 2-1. After Alvarez’s impressive win to put Oklahoma within one point of victory, Ghilea, Siegel and Alcorta continued play to try and advance the Sooners to the semifinals.
After a marathon battle that saw a total of 34 games played, Alcorta lost a heartbreaker to Brayden Schnur. After winning his first set, Alcorta fell in the next two giving the Tar Heels their second point of the match.
Ghilea sent the Sooners to the semifinals with his dominating performance on court six. The freshman won in straight sets to clinch the victory and keep Oklahoma’s season alive.
"It was a great team effort," he said. "This is the first time in the semifinals so we have to enjoy it. It's incredible. It was a great match and I hope tomorrow is the same."
Oklahoma will face the winner of the UCLA/Ohio State match on Monday, May 19, at 4 p.m. CT. The Sooners are 1-0 against Ohio State this season after defeating the Buckeyes 4-1 and 0-1 against UCLA after falling to the Bruins 4-2 at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
OKLAHOMA 4 NORTH CAROLINA 2
1. Clark/Schnur (UNC) def. Alvarez/Webb (OU) 8-5
2. Alcorta/Harris (OU) vs. Sterio/Vick (UNC), DNF
3. Murray/Schneider (UNC) def. Ghilea/Papac (OU) 8-6
Order of Finish: 3, 1
1. Brayden Schnur (UNC) def. Guillermo Alcorta (OU) 6-7, 6-3, 7-5
2. Axel Alvarez (OU) def. Ronnie Schneider (UNC) 6-7, 6-0, 6-0
3. Dane Webb (OU) def. Brett Clark (UNC) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
4. Andrew Harris (OU) def. Oystein Sterio (UNC) 6-, 6-1
5. Austin Siegel (OU) vs. Jack Murray (UNC), DNF
6. Alex Ghilea (OU) def. Nelson Vick (UNC) 6-2, 6-0
Order of finish: 4, 3, 2, 1, 6*