©Colette Lewis 2013--
No. 3 seed Georgia and No. 11 seed Pepperdine will meet again in the quarterfinals after winning the first dual matches of the Men's NCAA Division I Round of 16.
Pepperdine lost the doubles point, but came back strong in singles to beat unseeded Memphis 4-2 Thursday morning at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Center on the University of Illinois campus. Georgia held off a late charge by No. 14 Oklahoma to take a 4-1 victory over the Sooners.
Pepperdine head coach Adam Steinberg was impressed with the Memphis Tigers for their energy and that of their fans, who drove the seven hours north to support them.
"So much credit to Memphis, I'd never seen them, but they have a great team," said Steinberg. "They were supported so well. We're just a little too far to bring enough people, but it was great for them. What an amazing season they had."
Steinberg wasn't about to panic when his team lost the doubles point, since they had lost 11 doubles points during the year and went on to win eight of those matches.
"We remained calm," said Steinberg. "Last year we came to the Sweet 16 and we lost the doubles point to Tulsa, and I reminded them of that and that we went to the final four. So there was no reason to panic. We've won a lot of matches this year down the doubles, and I talked about what we needed to do. We didn't do that in the doubles, but in the singles, we did a great job of fighting, and that's what we are."
Pepperdine tied it up with Alex Sarkissian defeating Joe Salisbury at line 2 6-2, 6-3, but Memphis regained the lead with David O'Hare's 6-4, 6-1 win at No. 6. It stayed that way for a while, but Pepperdine had the first sets on the other four courts. Memphis got one split, at line 4, but couldn't earn another. The Tigers' Connor Glennon, who broke his left wrist in a car accident a few weeks ago and did not play doubles, hung with Pepperdine's Sebastian Fanselow for a set, but with only a slice backhand available to him, he fell 7-6(3), 6-1 to pull Pepperdine even. Mousheg Hovhannisyan gave the Waves a 3-2 lead with a 6-4, 6-4 win at line 5, and just minutes later, Finn Tearney clinched for Pepperdine with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Lucas Vrnak of Memphis.
No. 11 Pepperdine 4, Memphis 2
9 a.m. CT – North Courts
1. #11 Sebastian Fanselow (PEPP) def. Connor Glennon (MEM) 7-6 (3), 6-1
2. #62 Alex Sarkissian (PEPP) def. Joe Salisbury (MEM) 6-2, 6-3
3. #107 Finn Tearney (PEPP) def. Lukas Vrnak (MEM) 6-2, 6-4
4. Johnny Grimal (MEM) vs. #102 Francis Alcantara (PEPP) 2-6, 6-3, 4-2*
5. Mousheg Hovhannisyan (PEPP) def. David O’Leary (MEM) 6-4, 6-4
6. David O’Hare (MEM) def. Davis Sofaer (PEPP) 6-4, 6-1
1. #64 Salisbury/O’Hare (MEM) def. #43 Fanselow/Alcantara (PEPP) 8-2
2. Vmak/Grimal (MEM) vs. Sarkissian/Tearney (PEPP) 5-4*
3. De Zutter/O’Leary (MEM) def. Hovhannisyan/Sofaer (PEPP) 8-5
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (2,6,1,5,3)
* = unfinished
Georgia looked sharp in the doubles against an Oklahoma team coached by two former Bulldogs, head coach John Roddick and assistant Bo Hodge.
It didn't take long for the Sooners to overcome that deficit, however, with Axel Alvarez Llamas defeating Austin Smith at No. 3 6-1, 6-1.
Eric Nunez gave Georgia a 2-1 lead with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Nick Papac at line 6, and Hernus Pieters made it 3-1 with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Dane Webb at line 4.
Georgia's Nathan Pasha had taken the first set from Guillermo Alcorta at line 2, and Wagland had the first set for Georgia at 1 over Costin Paval, but both dropped their second sets. Meanwhile, Georgia's Garrett Brasseaux was down 3-0 in his final set with Leonard Stakhovsky at line 5, giving the Sooners hope that they would post another point and put pressure on the two Bulldogs just starting the third set.
Brasseaux took the next five games of the match however and had three match points at 0-40 with Stakhovsky serving at 3-5, only to lose the game, as the clouds rolled in and a few sprinkles were visible on the bright blue area surrounding the courts. Stakhovsky took a medical timeout at the changeover of that game, forcing Brasseaux to think about serving for the match. The junior from Louisiana made it interesting but when he got to match point at 40-30, he shut the door by serving and volleying, executing a drop volley that spun back into the net.
"It had been working for me all match, and he actually hit a good return," said Brasseaux. "He hit another good pass and I hit a stab volley to save it."
After the abrupt departure of their top player KU Singh prior to the regionals, the Georgia team has banded together.
"The Bulldogs that are, are the Bulldogs that are here," said head coach Manny Diaz. "We moved on a long time ago. We were in this position for nine matches this year, and our team has used that as a way to come together. We're very close and just a fighting team, a blue collar, play for each other kind of team."
Diaz said he was conflicted in coaching against two of his former players.
"In a way it's difficult and it's a way it's fun," said Diaz. "They're great guys and they're doing a tremendous job with that program, and it's just too bad one of us had to go out of the tournament. They have a great team, and if I had to pick somebody not to play in the round of 16, it would have been them. We had a great victory today, we earned it and it was physically and emotionally draining."
As for the rematch with Pepperdine, which saw the Waves take out Georgia 4-3 in Athens, Diaz downplayed the revenge factor.
"From one year to the next, teams change," said Diaz, who will have only two players on the court who played the Waves last year in Athens. "The only thing that doesn't change is the coaches."
No. 3 Georgia 4, No. 14 Oklahoma 1
9 a.m. CT – South Courts
1. #21 Costin Paval (OKLA) vs. #33 Ben Wagland (UGA) 5-7, 6-4, 5-4*
2. #47 Nathan Pasha (UGA) vs. #58 Guillermo Alcorta (OKLA) 7-6 (1), 2-6, 2-1*
3. #110 Axel Alvarez Llamas (OKLA) def. Austin Smith (UGA) 6-1, 6-1
4. #115 Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. #64 Dane Webb (OKLA) 7-5, 6-3
5. Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) def. Leonard Stakhovsky (OKLA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
6. Marco Nunez (UGA) def. Nick Papac (OKLA) 6-4, 6-3
1. #5 Pieters/Wagland (UGA) vs. #46 Paval/Webb (OKLA) 4-4*
2. #15 Pasha/Brasseaux (UGA) def. #68 Alcorta/Alvarez Llamas (OKLA) 8-5
3. Nunez/Diaz (UGA) def. Formentera/Papac (OKLA) 8-4
Order of Finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (3,6,4,5)
* = unfinished