Monday, April 29, 2013

Tennis: OU Men's Team Wins Big 12 Championship

No. 14 Oklahoma captured its second straight Big 12 Men's Tennis Championship, beating No. 13 Baylor 4-2 in the conference tournament final Sunday at the Headington Family Tennis Center.

The top two seeds of the tournament met for the second straight year in the final with the Sooners topping the regular-season champion Bears with victories in doubles and Nos. 2, 3 and 6 singles.

"Winning the first (Big 12 Championship) was hard and winning the second one was harder," OU head coach John Roddick said. "It's a challenge every year and to start being in the mix every time to win a championship is great. Our expectation from the players is starting to really show and the confidence from them has really risen. Our attitude got a lot better in the last week and a half and our competitive spirit came out."

The Bears handed the Sooners their only Big 12 loss of the regular season in Waco, Texas, on April 12. After that, OU beat Texas Tech and Oklahoma State to claim the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament.

The Sooners beat rival Texas for the second time this season to clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship finals. Going into Sunday's match, Roddick said the doubles point would be very important.

OU's No. 2 tandem of Guilermo Alcorta and Axel Alvarez Llamas quickly beat Patrick Pradella and Roberto Maytin, 8-4. Costin Paval and Dane Webb dropped their match on Court 1, 8-6, and the doubles point came down to the battle on Court 3.

The momentum swung OU's way, with Lawrence Formentera and Nick Papac topping Tony Lupieri and Julian Lenz, 9-8 (8-6).

"That was huge, that doubles match," Roddick said. "If we don't have that point, there's still a match out there that could go either way. Getting that point was going to be critical for either team."

Baylor quickly tied it with a win on Court 5 and took the lead with a Court 1 win, but OU came back swinging.

Alcorta responded to the Bear's lead with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Mate Zsiga.

A junior from Bilbao, Spain, Alcorta was named the tournament's most outstanding player.

"It's nice playing well," Alcorta said. "But in the end, the most important thing is that the team wins. I think I collaborated in that and it feels perfect."

Papac, who returned to lineup for the tournament after missing the Texas Tech and Oklahoma State matches due to injury, tied it again for the Sooners with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 win on Court 6.

That left the determining matches to Alvarez Llamas on Court 3 and Webb on Court 4. Alvarez Llamas won his first set on a 7-6 (7-5) tiebreaker and was in the second set. Webb split two sets with Lupieri and was in his third.

"I didn't know," Alvarez Llamas said. "I knew we had lost the No. 1 point, but I didn't know what was going on on the other side [of the courts]. I just played my match. I knew it was an important match because everybody was watching me. I just tried to keep focused and play my game."

Alvarez Llamas, a freshman from Asturias, Spain, won his match and the championship for the Sooners after a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 victory.

The Sooners dogpiled on Court 3 and doused Roddick with water from a Gatorade cooler.

"It's unbelievable," Alvarez Llamas said. "I didn't know it was going to be like this. I saw pictures of the guys winning the Big 12 from last year, but I didn't know it was going to be so fun. I was so nervous. It was unbelievable. I don't have any more words to describe it."

/// SoonerSports PR
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