NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 14 Oklahoma men's tennis team's season ended Thursday after they fell to No. 2 Georgia, 4-1, in the Sweet Sixteen in Urbana, Ill.
"It will be a good learning experience moving into next year," OU head coach John Roddick said. "I appreciated our seniors' effort today. They have been program changers for us."
This is the second time in four years the Bulldogs have eliminated the Sooners
from the NCAA Championships, as they knocked them out of the Elite Eight in 2010. Georgia is the alma mater of both Roddick and OU assistant coach Bo Hodge.
"Georgia played tough today and they deserve a lot of credit," Roddick said. "I wish Georgia good luck."
Fourteenth-seeded OU came into the match as the underdogs to third-seed Georgia, and quickly dropped the doubles point.
On Court 2, Guillermo Alcorta and Axel Alvarez Llamas were down 4-1, but came back fighting. They couldn't hold off the Bulldog duo, though, and fell 8-5. OU also fell on Court 3, 8-4.
Costin Paval and Dane Webb were tied 4-4 with the No. 5 team in the country, Ben Wagland and Hernus Pieters, when the doubles portion was called.
Despite the rough start to the match, the Sooners came back swinging in singles. Five courts battled closely in the first sets. On Court 3, Alvarez Llamas stormed to a 6-1 first set win.
Alvarez Llamas, the Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year and ITA Central Region Rookie of the Year, quickly finished his second set in the same fashion. He dropped Georgia's Austin Smith, 6-1, 6-1, to tie the match for the Sooners.
"Axel played the best match he played all year," Roddick said.
Elsewhere, OU's other freshman, Leonard Stakhovsky, also won his first set.
However, this would be only other first set won for the Sooners, with Nick Papac, Paval and Webb dropping theirs shortly after Stakhovksy's first set win. Alcorta fell to a tiebreaker in his first set on Court 2 shortly after Alvarez Llamas won his match.
Not long after that, Papac lost his match, 6-4, 6-3, to Marco Nunez at the No. 6 position and Georgia regained the lead.
Momentum continued to swing in the Bulldogs' favor, with Garrett Brasseaux forcing a third set against Stakhovsky. Not long after that, Hernus Pieters dropped Webb at the No. 4 position, 7-5, 6-3, increasing Georgia's lead to 3-1.
However, the match between the Sooners and the Bulldogs was far from finished.
Paval forced a third set after he won his second, 6-4. Alcorta also won his second set, 6-2, forcing a third. On Court 5, Stakhovsky was up 3-0 in his third set.
Then, Georgia's Brasseaux went on a five game win streak against Stakhovsky. The match looked to be over when the Bulldog reached match point, up 40-0 in the ninth game of the set; but Stakhovsky fought back. He won the game and tightened the set to 5-4.
Stakhovsky battled in the next game, keeping every point close, but the freshman could not recover. He dropped his match 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, giving Georgia its necessary fourth point for the win.
When the match was called, Paval was up 5-4 in the third set and Alcorta was down 2-1 in his final set. Both Paval and Alcorta will return to the court for the singles tournament that begins Wednesday, May 22, at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex/Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill.
This marks the end of a historic season for the Sooners. In Roddick's fourth year at OU, the Sooners nabbed their first top-five ranking, made it to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships for the first time, won their second consecutive Big 12 Championship and made it to the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in school history.
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Georgia 4, Oklahoma 1
1. No. 46 Paval/Webb (OU) vs. No. 5 Pieters/Wagland (UGA), 4-4
2. No. 15 Pasha/Brasseaux (UGA) def. No. 68 Alcorta/Alvarez Llamas (OU), 8-5
3. Nunez/Diaz (UGA) def. Formentera/Papac (OU), 8-4
Order of finish: 2, 3
1. No. 21 Costin Paval (OU) vs. No. 33 Ben Wagland (UGA), 5-7, 6-4, 5-4 (dnf)
2. No. 47 Nathan Pasha (UGA) vs. No. 58 Guillermo Alcorta (OU), 7-6 (1), 2-6, 2-1 (dnf)
3. No. 110 Axel Alvarez Llamas (OU) def. Austin Smith (UGA), 6-1, 6-1
4. No. 115 Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. No. 64 Dane Webb (OU), 7-5, 6-3
5. Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) def. Leonard Stakhovsky (OU), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
6. Marco Nunez (UGA) def. Nick Papac (OU), 6-4, 6-3
Order of finish: 3, 6, 4, 5*