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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ohio State Cruises Past Baylor to Reach Final Four; UCLA Downs Ole Miss 4-3 in Marathon

©Colette Lewis 2009--
College Station, TX--

The Ohio State Buckeyes may be seeded No. 3 in this tournament, but they sure didn't look like the third best team in the tournament in their 4-1 thrashing of No. 6 Baylor.

The doubles point went to Ohio State and in the singles they got off to an excellent start, taking huge leads on the No. 3 and No. 5 courts. Baylor's Dominik Mueller gave Baylor its only point with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Matt Allare at No. 4, but it was only minutes later that the Buckeyes took a 3-1 lead. Justin Kronauge beat Julian Bley 6-1, 6-0 on Court 3 and Steven Moneke was right behind with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Jordan Rux on Court 2. Next in line was Balazs Novak at No. 5, who ended Baylor's season with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Attilla Bucko.

Baylor coach Matt Knoll was honest in his assessment of the relative talent level of the two teams, and when asked if the cool and cloudy conditions had been in Ohio State's favor, he conceded they had, but not enough to make a true difference.

"We didn't get the day we ordered that's for sure," said Knoll. "We really would have liked it to be 195 degrees, the hotter the better, but what it came down to was they had better tennis players than we did. I don't know if we could have beat them in an hurricane and earthquake combined."

Ohio State coach Ty Tucker was happy to break the streak of three straight quarterfinal losses in the NCAAs.

"To be able to get the monkey off our back and be able to do it against Baylor feels awfully good," Tucker said. "These guys had a different look in their eyes...they're not ready to settle. Obviously any team left in this tournament can win the tournament, but my guys are going to make you beat them."

Ohio State could have played two matches in the time it took Ole Miss and UCLA to resolve their quarterfinal encounter. Nearly five hours after it began, Bruin Nick Meister put his team in the semifinals for the second consecutive year, outlasting freshman Marcel Thiemann 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.

Ole Miss swept the top three positions, with Devin Britton getting Ole Miss on the scoreboard with a three-set win over Haythem Abid at No. 2. Holden Seguso's quick dismissal of Bram ten Berge at No. 4 made it 2-0 UCLA, but Rebel Jonas Berg's win at No. 1 over Matt Brooklyn and Kalle Norberg's victory over Harel Srugo gave Ole Miss a 3-2 lead. At No. 5, UCLA's Michael Look had a big lead on Otto Sauer in the third set, while Meister was in the position of having to win the second set, just to keep the Bruins playing.

Serving at 5-5 in the second set, Meister saved three break points, and when Thiemann held, the pressure of the tiebreaker loomed.

It was a well-played tiebreaker, with only one hiccup by either player serving, but Thiemann's forehand long at 4-5 gave Meister two set points. Thiemann hit a good serve to save the first one, but Meister returned the favor on the next point, cracking a first serve winner to take the set.

Nearly an hour and a half after the other five singles had finished, Meister and Thiemann were at 4-4. The freshman from Ole Miss began to show a few signs of nerves and both players looked very tired, but whatever the reason, Thiemann double faulted on game points twice to give Meister the advantage. The second time the sophomore from Southern California converted, holding at love in the final game to complete a draining match.

The vocal fans from UCLA and from Ole Miss never seemed to tire of supporting their own, but the celebration from the sidelines was muted from the UCLA team. Meister was taken to an ice bath and getting an IV, but Billy Martin was full of praise for his player, and for the Ole Miss team after the match.

"Both guys looked tired, but were fighting their hearts out," said Martin. "My guy was starting to cramp a little bit and I think their player was too, so it was just kind of a battle of attrition. Meister's done it a lot before, a young man who's won five or six last-match third sets for us as a sophomore, so I felt fairly confident that he'd want to be there. Obviously it turned out pretty good for us, but just one heck of a great college men's tennis match."

Speaking of the final match on Martin said, "it's wasn't like somebody really lost that. I thought it was really high quality tennis at a number six position, those guys were out there playing really good tennis."

Ole Miss coach Billy Chadwick had talked on Friday of the talent on the UCLA team, but he wasn't quite ready to concede that his team hadn't measured up to the Bruins Sunday.

"I thought it was really close; we played it exactly right, positioned ourselves to win, and just came up a little short," Chadwell said. "It would have been nice to have gotten the doubles point....but they were just a little bit too good."

For complete scores, see the aggieathletics website.


vamosnadal said...

What's your take on the men's semis anyone ???

Austin said...

USC should beat Texas, 4-1 or 4-2, a lot depends how Varela plays and if Damico steps it up. Regardless, I think the Trojans get it done.

OSU is just too good for UCLA, however if anyone can beat them its the Bruins. It could be 4-0 OSU, but the other three may be tilting toward UCLA when the match ends.

So Im sticking with my pre-tournament prediction of an OSU-USC final.

By the way, this was a great match yesterday. Hats off to Meister.

Austin said...

Did Kellen Damico read my post or something? hahaha. He's throttling Poldma.

I completely forgot to say earlier that UCLA had to win the dubs point for a chance to win. Well, they won it, so they have a chance.