TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Henrik Wiersholm rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the second set for a 6-2, 7-6 victory over Andre Biro, clinching a 4-1 victory for Virginia over Oklahoma in the NCAA men’s tennis final Tuesday night.
It was the second straight championship for top-seeded Virginia (30-4) and third in the past four seasons.
“I’m really pleased with our overall effort and couldn’t be happier for the team,” Virginia coach Brian Boland said.
“These guys hung in there all year long. We dealt with some adversity in terms of not winning the ACC tournament, which was different for us, as well as losing in the final of the national indoor, so I really was pleased with how they stuck together throughout the entire year. It was a true team effort.”
Last year’s title also came after a 4-1 win over Oklahoma (20-11), which lost in the final for the third straight season.
“Every year is different and every one hurts in a different way,” Sooners coach John Roddick said.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match, and we have to keep working trying to get over that hump. They outplayed us in there, that’s the way it goes some nights. We did a lot of things we tried to execute, and that’s all I can ask of my guys. Virginia just outplayed us, I don’t feel like we gave anything away. It’s either going to fall your way or not.”
The match was delayed about an hour because of rain and lightning in the area, and was moved indoors.
After winning the doubles point, Virginia bolted out to a fast start, handily winning the first set in four of the six singles matches, and it looked as if the final might be a rout.
But Oklahoma rallied, with Andrew Harris coming back from a 5-3 deficit to take the first set of the No. 1 singles match 7-6 (7-2), and Axel Alvarez also overcoming a 5-3 deficit to win the No. 2 singles first set 7-5.
At the same time, each of the four Oklahoma players who lost their first set jumped out to early leads in the second.
“You don’t like to have your players scoreboard-watch, but there was a point there where I made them all kind of just check it out, because we were fighting back so well,” Roddick said.
“It definitely looked like, for a good bit there, that there was a path to four points, even with some margin for error. That’s great to see, that’s where you’re proud of the guys. We didn’t lay down, we fought hard and made them earn it, and they did.”
The Oklahoma surge didn’t last. Virginia went up 2-0 after J.C. Aragone rallied from a 4-3 deficit in the second set to defeat Oklahoma’s Florin Bragusi 6-3, 6-4 in the No. 5 singles slot.
The No. 11 Sooners pulled within 2-1 after Harris completed his victory over last year’s overall men’s singles champion, Ryan Shane, 7-6 (7-2), 6-0, but the Cavaliers stopped any lingering Oklahoma momentum and secured another win at No. 3 singles when Thai-Son Kwiatkowski completed a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Spencer Papa.
“Credit goes to Oklahoma for making it a tough battle when it was looking pretty convincing for a while,” Boland said. “They made a great run and I was pleased with the guys. I thought the guys stayed composed and disciplined throughout the entire match.”
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