TCU Men Fall to Tulsa in NCAA First Round
TULSA, Okla.—No. 38 TCU saw the team competition portion of its 2009 season come to an end Friday during a 4-2 loss to No. 30 Tulsa in the first round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championships at the Golden Hurricane’s Michael D. Case Tennis Center.
The Horned Frog doubles team of junior Adrian Simon and sophomore Emanuel Brighiu will continue its season during the NCAA Doubles Championship held May 20-25 in College Station, Texas.
TCU’s meeting with Tulsa marked a rematch of one of the Frogs’ biggest victories of the season. The squad had upset the 17th-ranked Hurricane, 4-3, back on Feb. 21 in Tulsa, but was unable to match its success from the previous contest Friday.
The Frogs received a pair of wins in singles from senior Kriegler Brink and freshman Slah Mbarek to account for their two points.
Brink, the Frogs’ top-ranked player at No. 78 nationally, completed his TCU career with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Tulsa’s 99th-ranked Philip Stephens at No. 3 singles to run his career singles record to 82-35. Mbarek, ranked No. 83, added a win at the No. 2 position, 6-2, 6-2, over Victor Kolik.
Sophomore Emanuel Brighiu, ranked 114th, faced a tall order at No. 1 singles against the nation’s top-ranked player, Arnau Brugues. Brighiu was able to take the first set, but Brugues took control of the match from there during his 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 win. The win advanced Tulsa to Saturday’s NCAA second-round matchup against Baylor. Brugues brought a 24-match winning streak into Friday.
Sophomores Zach Nichols and Christopher Price both had winning streaks snapped during respective setbacks at Nos. 4 and 5 singles. Nichols, who entered the day with a five-match streak, fell to Alberto Sottocorno, 6-1, 6-4. Price saw his six-match winning streak end at the hands of Ashley Watling, 6-3, 6-1.
Junior Adrian Simon’s match at the sixth position against Marko Ballok went unfinished after Brugues’ victory clinched the team outcome.
TCU began the day by putting up a strong fight for the doubles point. Mbarek and Brink, ranked 39th, opened competition by defeating Tulsa’s 79th-ranked duo of James Seagraves and Sottocomo at No. 1 doubles, 8-6, before Ballok and Brugues downed Nichols and Price, 8-4 and the No. 2 position. Brighiu and Simon, ranked 31st nationally, then had five match points against Stephens and Watling at No. 2 doubles but were unable to seal the team point for TCU. The Hurricane tandem fought back to force the tiebreaker before moving on to victory, 9-8 (4).
“Not being able to win the doubles point really hurt our chances,” head coach Dave Borelli said. “We gave away the tiebreaker, and I thought that was the key to today’s match. We needed to be able to grab that momentum to have a shot at winning, but I have to give credit to Tulsa. They are a very good team and are tough to play at home.”
TCU ended its season with a 12-12 overall record. The Frogs won the Mountain West Conference regular season championship outright last month with a 5-1 record on their way to earning the program’s 18th NCAA Championships bid in the last 19 years.
“I’m disappointed with the way the season ended,” Borelli said. “We were able to battle back this season after playing a tough schedule early. The year just didn’t end the way we had hoped.”
No. 30 Tulsa 4, No. 38 TCU 2
May 8, 2009
Tulsa, Okla. (Michael D. Case Tennis Center)
1. #39 Mbarek/Brink (TCU) def. #79 Seagraves/Sottocorno (TLS), 8-6
2. Stephens/Watling (TLS) def. #31 Brighiu/Simon (TCU), 9-8 (4)
3. Ballok/Brugues (TLS) def. Nichols/Price (TCU), 8-4
Order of Finish: 1,3,2
1. #1 Arnau Brugues (TLS) def. #114 Emanuel Brighiu (TCU), 4-6, 6-1, 6-0
2. #83 Slah Mbarek (TCU) def. Victor Kolik (TLS), 6-2, 6-2
3. #78 Kriegler Brink (TCU) def. #99 Philip Stephens (TLS), 6-3, 6-3
4. Alberto Sottocorno (TLS) def. Zach Nichols (TCU), 6-1, 6-4
5. Ashley Watling (TLS) def. Christopher Price (TCU), 6-3, 6-1
6. Marko Ballok (TLS) vs. Adrian Simon (TCU), 6-1, 5-4, unfinished
Order of Finish: 2,4,5,3,1