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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bragusi Leads Top Seed Oklahoma to 4-3 Win over UCLA; Georgia Tops Texas, as Rain Forces Matches Indoors

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Waco, TX--

The Iceman cometh again for the top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners, who got another big match clinching performance from sophomore Florin Bragusi in a 4-3 squeaker over No. 16 seed UCLA.

The 9 a.m. match, delayed four times for rain and lightning, started outdoors and finished inside at the Hawkins Tennis Center.

Oklahoma won the doubles point, and four first sets in singles, but UCLA stubbornly wouldn't concede.  The Sooners took a 3-0 lead with wins by Spencer Papa at line 5 and Alex Ghilea at line 4, but the Bruins got a big lift when Mackenzie McDonald handed Axel Alvarez his first dual match loss of the season, beating the country's top-ranked player 6-4, 6-4.

UCLA's Martin Redlicki was up a break in the third set at No. 3 over Dane Webb, Dennis Mrktchian was a set to the good over OU's Andrew Harris at line 2 and when Joe DiGuilio earned a split with Bragusi at line 6, the Bruins were right back in the match.

That's when play was stopped, shortly after 1 p.m., with lightning detected within a seven mile radius. The match was moved indoors, and Redlicki closed out Webb 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-4, followed by Mrktchian completing his 7-6(5), 7-6(3) win over Harris.  Mrktchian was down 0-40 serving at 5-6 in the second, after having failed to serve out the match at 5-4, but the senior won five straight points to force a tiebreaker. He took advantage of Harris double fault at 2-5 two points later, finishing with a forehand volley winner to tie the match.

Meanwhile, DiGuilio was down a break in the third to Bragusi, after losing a lengthy deuce game at 2-2.  DiGuilio had an opportunity to break Bragusi at 4-3 30-40, but he couldn't convert, and after two more deuces, Bragusi held for 5-3. DiGuilio played an aggressive game, coming in for volley winners to make Bragusi serve it out, but the Romanian had no difficulty, holding at love for the 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win.

"We call him the Iceman," head coach John Roddick said of Bragusi, who ended Ohio State's record home winning streak and clinched wins over Virginia and Baylor, all as the last match on in a 3-3 tie.

"We're okay with being in that situation," Roddick said. "Obviously you want to finish off matches as fast as you can, but when you play a team who plays as well as UCLA today, that's just not going to happen all the time. You have to find other ways to win, and today we did that. We believe in ourselves, and some of the guys it has come down to are 100 percent in those situations. Not just 2 for 2, but 4 out of 4 or 5 out of 5."

Next up for the Sooners are is eighth-seeded Georgia, who defeated No. 9 Texas 4-1.  The Bulldogs won the doubles point, but with none of the singles matches finished when the lightning delay sent them indoors to three courts, the match was undeniably still in the balance.

Wayne Montgomery had an opportunity to finish it with two match points in the second set tiebreaker against Soren Hess-Olesen at line 1, but Hess-Olesen fought them off.

"We may have finished there a little bit earlier," said Georgia head coach Manny Diaz. "Soren is so tough, he wasn't going to give anything away. He proved to be the great player that he is, fought off a couple of match points there."

Georgia had taken a 3-0 lead, with Nathan Pasha beating Adrian Berkowicz 6-3, 6-2 at line 3 and Austin Smith taking out Lloyd Glasspool 6-3, 7-6(5) at line 2. By the time Nick Wood clinched the match for Georgia, coming from 5-2 down in the second set to beat Nick Naumann 7-6(5), 7-5, nearly seven hours had elapsed.

"It's a long day," said Diaz. "We've been up since 5:45 a.m., and these guys are a little bit tired. But Oklahoma had a long, challenging match as well and both of us, I'm sure will welcome tomorrow off, get a good little workout in."

Diaz said he took little encouragement from the 4-3 score that Oklahoma post.

"Look, we've seen Oklahoma go 4-3 all year long," Diaz said. "They've done a tremendous job. They keep playing hard, are well-coached and have a lot of good competitors. It's going to take someone playing their best, and we're glad we're through and welcome the opportunity to play against that team."

#1 OKLAHOMA (27-2) def. #16 UCLA (17-10),  4-3 - Hurd Tennis Center Grandstand Courts and Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center
Head Coaches: John Roddick (OKLAHOMA) and Billy Martin (UCLA)

Doubles (Order of finish: 1, 2)       
1. #57 Andrew Harris/Alex Ghilea (OKLAHOMA) def. #12 Mackenzie McDonald/Martin Redlicki (UCLA)   8-4
2. Dane Webb/Spencer Papa (OKLAHOMA) def. #86 Joseph Di Guilio/Karue Sell (UCLA) 8-4
3. Axel Alvarez/Jose Salazar (OKLAHOMA) vs. Dennis Mkrtchian/Austin Rapp (UCLA)   6-4, UNF

Singles (Order of finish: 5, 4, 1, 3, 2, 6)     
1. #3 Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) def. #1 Axel Alvarez (OKLAHOMA)   6-4, 6-4
2. #36 Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) def. #7 Andrew Harris (OKLAHOMA) 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3)
3. #118 Martin Redlicki (UCLA) def. #44 Dane Webb (OKLAHOMA)      6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 6-4
4. #103 Alex Ghilea (OKLAHOMA) def. Karue Sell (UCLA)  6-3, 6-4
5.  Spencer Papa (OKLAHOMA) def. Austin Rapp (UCLA)  6-3, 6-4
6.  Florin Bragusi (OKLAHOMA) def. Joe DiGuilio (UCLA) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4

#8 GEORGIA (24-4) def. #9 TEXAS (21-7), 4-1 - Hurd Tennis Center Riverside Courts and Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center
Head Coaches: Manuel Diaz (GEORGIA) and Michael Center (TEXAS)

Doubles (Order of finish: 3, 2)      
1.#1 Austin Smith/Ben Wagland (GEORGIA) vs. #19 Lloyd Glasspool/Søren Hess-Oelsen (TEXAS)  5-5, UNF
2. Wayne Montgomery/Nathan Pasha (GEORGIA) def. George Goldhoff/Jacoby Lewis (TEXAS)                8-3
3. Eric Diaz/Paul Oosterbaan (GEORGIA) def. Nick Naumann/Michael Riechmann (TEXAS)         8-4

Singles (Order of finish: 3, 2, 4, 5)              
1. #24 Wayne Montgomery (GEORGIA) vs. #86 Søren Hess-Oelsen (TEXAS) 7-6 (5), 6-7 (6), 5-3, UNF
2. #30 Austin Smith (GEORGIA) def. #42 Lloyd Glasspool (TEXAS)       6-3, 7-6 (5)
3. #31 Nathan Pasha (GEORGIA) def. #54 Adrian Berkowicz (TEXAS)   6-3, 6-2
4. George Goldhoff (TEXAS) def. Ben Wagland (GEORGIA) 6-3, 6-4
5. Nick Wood (GEORGIA) def. Nick Naumann (TEXAS) 7-6 (5), 7-5
6. Paul Oosterbaan (GEORGIA) vs. Clement Homs (TEXAS) 3-6, 7-5, 2-1, UNF