TULSA, Okla. - The No. 15 Tulsa men’s tennis team, playing its first home match in a month, stormed past Conference USA foe SMU, 6-1, on Sunday at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center.
The Golden Hurricane (8-5) has won its past four tilts at home, and now will look ahead to its matchup against No. 2 UCLA on Thursday in Los Angeles.
The triumph also marked TU’s first conference win of the season.
“I think SMU will be ranked in the 40s and 50s once we get to the conference championship,” commented Head Coach Vince Westbrook. “I think they are capable of getting to the finals of conference. We beat some ranked teams this year that aren’t as good as SMU. Once they get healthy, they are going to knock off some people this year, and we knew that heading into this match that if their full lineup is in, they are a team to watch.”
The Hurricane secured the doubles point easily, as junior Clifford Marsland and sophomore Alejandro Espejo earned an 8-3 win at No. 1 doubles over Arturs Kazijevs and Mischa Nowicki. The No. 2 doubles duo of Grant Ive and Tristan Jackson sealed the point with an 8-5 win over SMU’s Gaston Cuadranti and Alex Sanders.
SMU evened up the match at 1-1, as TU freshman Lucas Vaz lost a 6-3, 7-6 (3) decision at No. 6 singles to Nate Lammons.
TU stormed back winning the final five singles matches as freshman Carlos Bautista started the trend with a 6-4, 6-4, triumph on Court No. 5 over Nowicki.
At No. 2 singles, junior Japie De Klerk, ranked No. 52 in the nation, snared a 6-3, 6-4 win over Pablo Perez.
Junior Clifford Marsland clinched the triumph for TU, as the No. 84-ranked singles player earned a 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-2 win over the reigning C-USA Player of the Week Arturs Kazijevs.
At No. 4 singles, Ive snared a 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2 win over Eduardo Razzeto.
Espejo earned TU’s final triumph of the afternoon in a marathon match on Court No. 3. Espejo won the first set 6-4, but lost the second set 3-6 to Gaston Cuadranti. In the tiebreaker in the third set, Espejo was down 4-2, but rallied and tied it up at 8-8. After a service ace made it 9-8 in favor of the TU sophomore, Cuadranti double-faulted to give the match to Espejo.
“I’m proud of our guys this weekend,” Westbrook stated. “We were solid at Oklahoma State on Friday, and we were solid today. I’m happy for Alejandro coming back in the tiebreaker. Our guys seem to be getting better and better. If we can translate this into outdoor tennis, and be as consistent with our serves and returns as we have been indoors, we will be fine. We have a big match on Thursday, and we need to get out in some nice weather.”
TU hits the road for a tough road test on Thursday, as the Hurricane will face No. 2 UCLA in a 6 p.m. CT match at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
“I think our match at Oklahoma State will help us, as we played in 25 mile per hour winds and cold temperatures in Stillwater on Friday,” Westbrook said. “We were out there for three and a half hours, and I think we needed that to make us tougher. I bet the conditions at UCLA will be better, and I think we will be fine.”
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