Top-seeded TCU suffered a 4-3 loss to No. 2 seed New Mexico Saturday in the final match of the Mountain West Conference Men’s Tennis Championship at the Jerry Cline Tennis Center. The finals appearance was the Frogs’ third in only four years as members of the MWC.
TCU fell to 12-11 overall this season and will now await word on a possible at-large selection to next month’s NCAA Championships. The Frogs won the MWC’s regular season title after finishing the conference schedule with a league-best 5-1 record that included a 5-2 win over New Mexico in the team’s only previous meeting of the season on April 9 in San Diego.
For the second consecutive season, the MWC Championship title came down to senior Kriegler Brink’s match against a Lobo at No. 3 singles. While Brink was able to clinch the Frogs’ 2008 conference crown with a three-set win, Saturday’s match went in different direction. New Mexico’s Miles Bugby shook off a first-set loss via the tiebreaker before taking the final two sets to clinch the UNM team victory with his 6-7 (1), 6-2, 7-6 (0) win.
Brink and Bugby’s final set was a nail-biter, as Brink twice was able to fight off match-clinching games to send the set into a tiebreaker. Bugby then rattled off seven straight points in the tiebreaker to give the Lobos the conference championship.
Earlier in the match, sophomore Zach Nichols
had boosted TCU to a 3-2 advantage with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Ben Dunbar at No. 4 singles, but UNM’s Johnny Parkes, ranked 79th nationally, was able to down freshman Slah Mbarek
in the No. 1 slot, 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, to set up Bugby’s winner.
Sophomore Christopher Price
got the Frogs started in singles at the No. 5 position with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Phil Anderson. Price and Nichols have combined to win 11 straight singles matches for TCU, with Price owning a team-best six-match streak.
Graeme Kassautzki and Carl Ho provided New Mexico’s other two points with respective wins over sophomore Emanuel Brighiu
(7-5, 6-3) at No. 2 singles and sophomore Casey Powers
(6-1, 6-4) at the No. 6 position.
TCU posted an advantage in doubles to earn an early 1-0 lead. Nichols and Price defeated Dunbar and Ho, 8-5, before Brink and Mbarek clinched the doubles point with a 9-7 victory over Parkes and Bugby. Brink and Mbarek, ranked 40th nationally in doubles, faced a daunting 7-4 hole before winning the final five games of the match. Brighiu and junior Adrian Simon’s match at No. 2 doubles with Kassautzki and Wood went unfinished.
The Frogs will face a two-week break before the start of the NCAA Championships. If selected for an at-large bid, the squad will begin play in the NCAA First Round on May 8. Individual competition at the NCAA Championships will be held May 20-25 in College Station, Texas, following the conclusion of the team competition. The 64-team field will be announced live on ESPNEWS this Tuesday, April 28.
No. 2 New Mexico 4, No. 1 TCU 3
April 25, 2009
Albuquerque, N.M. (Jerry Cline Tennis Center)
1. #79 Johnny Parkes (UNM) def. #84 Slah Mbarek
(TCU), 5-7, 6-4, 6-0
2. Graeme Kassautzki (UNM) def. #114 Emanuel Brighiu
(TCU), 7-5, 6-3
3. Miles Bugby (UNM) def. #72 Kriegler Brink
(TCU), 6-7 (1), 6-2, 7-6 (0)
4. Zach Nichols
(TCU) def. Ben Dunbar (UNM), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
5. Christopher Price
(TCU) def. Phil Anderson (UNM), 6-2, 6-2
6. Carl Ho (UNM) def. Casey Powers
(TCU), 6-1, 6-4
Order of Finish:
1. #40 Brink/Mbarek (TCU) def. Parkes/Bugby (UNM), 9-7
2. #29 Brighiu/Simon (TCU) vs. Kassautzki/Wood (UNM), unfinished
3. Nichols/Price (TCU) def. Dunbar/Ho (UNM), 8-5
Order of Finish: