Men's tennis: Sooners sweep Harvard to win weekend tournament
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
EDITOR'S NOTE: The original version of this story incorrectly referenced how long OU has had a men's tennis program. The men's tennis program has been around since 1929, and the story has been edited to reflect this correction.
The No. 8 OU men’s tennis team won the ITA Kick-Off Weekend tournament Sunday in Norman, beating No. 30 Memphis then-No. 28 Harvard for the championship.
The win improves the Sooners’ record to 3-0 this spring and qualified the team for the National Indoor Championships, Feb. 25-28 in Seattle.
“It was a big weekend for us,” coach John Roddick said. “We reacted well to the [mental lapses]. All in all, I’m about as happy as I can be with the way we played this weekend.”
Saturday the team handled Memphis, 4-0, with strong play from sophomore Dane Webb.
“I think we’ve started off well,” Webb said. “I played really well Saturday and then finished well on Sunday.”
Sunday, the Sooners beat Harvard 4-0, winning the doubles point and three singles points.
OU took the doubles point by winning the first two matches. The Sooners’ No. 3 tandem, junior Peerakit Siributwong and freshman Leonard Stakhovsky, clinched the point — defeating Harvard freshman Nicholas Mahlangu and sophomore Alex Steinroeder 8-5.
OU then added three more points in singles play, sealing the championship.
Harvard had to forfeit a singles match because of an injury to junior Casey MacMaster, which gave OU the early 2-0 lead.
In the No. 4 singles match, freshman Axel Llamas won the third point, defeating freshman Kelvin Lam 6-2, 6-0.
The last point came from junior Guillermo Alcorta in the No. 2 singles match. Alcorta defeated Steinroeder 6-4, 6-3.
Also on Sunday, No. 31 Notre Dame (3-2) defeated Memphis in the consolation match to finish third in the tournament.
No. 8 is the highest-ever ranking for the Sooners in the program’s 84-year existence, and as a result, the team is playing with a target on its back, senior Costin Paval said.
“There is a lot of pressure being ranked that highly,” he said. “Teams ranked behind us are playing like tomorrow is the end of the world.”
But the high ranking also has its advantages, Webb said.
“It’s easier if we start off ranked a little higher,” he said. “We just have to play as well as you can and compete to see what happens.”
The Sooners will play the No. 23 Indiana Hoosiers (2-3) at 1 p.m. Friday in Bloomington, Ind. before traveling to Lexington, Ky. for a match against No. 9 Kentucky at noon at Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.