SEATTLE - California survived a nailbiter to reach the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship, but this time the 13th-ranked Golden Bears lost a tight match to No. 11 Oklahoma, 4-3, on Sunday Night in the consolation bracket of the national indoor event at the Seattle Tennis Club. Tied 3-3, the match hinged on the singles match on court six, where Cal sophomore Nikhil Jayashankar battled Nick Papac, who wound up winning, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
Cal's record is now 4-4, while Oklahoma improved to 7-2.
The match ended the tournament for both the Bears and the Sooners. Only Monday's final remains; the championship pits No. 1 Virginia against No. 2 USC.
"Our team has had our share of adversity in terms of health, but we play with a lot of heart, and tonight we came up a little short," Cal head coach Peter Wright said. "Oklahoma is a physical team, and they played well tonight. I have to give credit to my guys for playing with so much character this weekend."
Cal entered singles with a 1-0 lead after winning the doubles point. The duo of junior Ben McLachlan and freshman Mads Engsted started the night by beating the Sooners' Lawrence Formentera and Guillermo Alcorta, 8-3, and then sophomores Gregory Bayane and Chase Melton clinched the doubles point by beating Oklahoma's Leonard Stakhovsky and Peerakit Siributwong, 8-4.
Bayane carried his success to singles, as he went on to defeat Stakhovsky again, 6-3, 6-3, on court four to give Cal a 2-0 lead.
But three straight losses to Oklahoma moved the Sooners ahead, 3-2. First, No. 82 Ben McLachlan fell to No. 68 Costin Paval, 6-4, 6-1, on court one, then No. 61 Campbell Johnson lost to No. 119, 6-2, 7-5, on court two and then on court three, senior/No. 48 Christoffer Konigsfeldt dropped a 6-1, 7-6(5), match to No. 65 Alcorta.
Engsted righted the ship by polishing off Siributwong in two sets, 6-4, 7-6(6), on court five to tie the match at 3-3. But the court-six result wound up deciding the match in Oklahoma's favor.
Cal's only other 4-3 dual result so far this season was the Jan. 26 win over Michigan at home in the Hellman Tennis Complex that qualified Wright's team for ITA indoors.
The Bears return to Hellman to take on No. 19 Stanford in the Big Slam on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m.
No. 8 Oklahoma 4, No. 13 California 3
2013 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship
Sunday, Feb. 17
Seattle Tennis Club | Seattle, Wash.
1: No. 19 Paval/Webb (Oklahoma) vs. No. 14 Konigsfeldt/Johnson (Cal) - 7-4 DNF
2: Engsted/B. McLachlan (Cal) def. Formentera/Alcorta (Oklahoma) - 8-3
3: Bayane/Melton (Cal) def. Stakhovsky/Siributwong (Oklahoma) - 8-4
(Cal wins the doubles point)
Order of Finish: 2, 3.
1: No. 68 Costin Paval (Oklahoma) def. No. 82 Ben McLachlan (Cal) - 6-4, 6-1
2: No. 65 Guillermo Alcorta (Oklahoma) def. No. 48 Christoffer Konigsfeldt (Cal) - 6-1, 7-6(5)
3: No. 119 Dane Webb (Oklahoma) def. No. 61 Campbell Johnson (Cal) - 6-2, 7-5
4: Gregory Bayane (Cal) def. Leonard Stakhovsky (Oklahoma) - 6-3, 6-3
5: Mads Engsted (Cal) def. Pirikit Siributwong (Oklahoma) - 6-4, 7-6(6)
6: Nick Papac (Oklahoma) def. Nikhil Jayashankar (Cal) - 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
Order of Finish: 4, 1, 3, 2, 5, 6.