Sooners become Big 12 Tournament champions again
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
The No. 14 OU men’s tennis team repeated as the Big 12 Tournament champions after exacting revenge on the No. 13 Baylor on Sunday in Norman.
With the win against Baylor, OU won its second title under coach John Roddick and will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Championship in two weeks.
The Sooners (19-6, 6-1 Big 12) knocked off No. 19 Texas, 4-1, in the semi finals on Saturday for a rematch against the Bears (20-5, 6-1 Big 12). Baylor beat OU in Waco earlier this year, 6-1.
“It’s hard,” Roddick said. “The first time was hard, the second time, harder. It’s a challenge every year and to start being in the mix every time to win the championship — this is our third final in a row — and it’s just good because we’re consistent. Our expectation from the players is starting to really show and the confidence in those matches is starting to show.”
OU may be on a four-match winning-streak, but after the Bedlam win last Sunday, Roddick said there was a lot of work to do if the team wanted to win a Big 12 title. That work paid off.
“Our attitude got a lot better in the last week and a half and the competitive spirit of the guys really started coming and I think that’s what really changed it,” he said.
Junior Guillermo Alcorta, who won Big 12 player of the tournament, thought the week of practice definitely made a difference, especially after losing to the Bears earlier this season.
“Once we lost to them, it tasted awful — the loss — so we decided we were going to practice tough all this week and we were all very excited about this win, so I think we deserve it,” Alcorta said.
The doubles point came down to court No. 3 after the Sooners lost on court No. 1 and won on court No. 2. The match went to a tiebreak and sophomore Nick Papac and senior Lawrence Formentera were down 5-1, but rallied back to win the match and clinch the doubles point.
“[The doubles point] was huge,” Alcorta said. “Once we won that, we went to the locker room and said ‘now we gotta kill them.’ We knew they were nervous and stuff. It was great and we performed perfect.”
The momentum shifted a bit when OU dropped two singles matches on courts No. 5 and 1, but the Sooners charged back with a run of their own and took a 3-2 lead with two matches left.
Freshman Axel Alvarez Llamas clinched the championship for the Sooners when he beat Baylor freshman Julian Lenz in straight sets, 7-6(8), 6-3.
“I was so nervous at the end, right now I can’t breathe,” Alvarez Llamas said. “So happy, so happy for the team and the effort every player on the team put forth in practice and here we are now with the trophy.”
The Alvarez Llamas said he was looking forward to this moment and surprised by its intensity.
“It’s unbelievable, I didn’t know it was going to be like this,” he said. “I saw the pictures of last year, of the guys winning the Big 12 [Championship], but I didn’t know it was going to be so fun. I don’t have words to describe it.”
The Sooners shift their focus to the NCAA Championship — with Sunday’s successful title defense — the team will host the first and second rounds of regionals in two weeks.