May 14, 2011
LOS ANGELES - On the verge of having its season end in regional play for the first time in school history, the 12th-seeded UCLA men's tennis team pulled off a dramatic comeback on Saturday, clawing out a 4-3 victory over Ole Miss in an NCAA Second Round match at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. With the win, the Bruins (18-6) move on to next week's round of 16 and will take on fifth-seeded Baylor on Thursday in Stanford, Calif. The Bears advanced through regional play with a 4-1 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday in Waco, Texas.
"I knew this was going to be a drag-out fight with Ole Miss," said UCLA head coach Billy Martin. "We've had nothing but fantastic matches with them in the past. I felt we were good conditioning wise. I really felt comfortable having our seniors out there. I told the team that I thought it would be a great goal for us to make it to the final 16."
UCLA faced an uphill battle from the start of Saturday's contest, dropping the doubles point for the ninth time this season. The Bruins got behind early on all three courts, eventually falling at court Nos. 1 (8-3) and 2 (8-5). UCLA was also down 5-7 at the No. 3 position when play was suspended.
Things looked even worse for the Bruins when the Rebels, who only needed three singles wins to pull off the upset, were able to win the first set at three courts. UCLA sophomore Maxime Tabatruong was the lone bright spot for the Bruins, as he cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Adrian Forberg Skogeng at court No. 6 to tie things up at 1-1.
UCLA, however, then dropped two consecutive straight-set matches to go down 1-3. Chris Thiemann upset 103rd-ranked Adrien Puget, 6-4, 6-3 at court No. 4, and Jonas Lutjen followed that up with a 7-6(4), 6-1 victory over 79th-ranked Clay Thompson at court No. 3. Suddenly, UCLA found itself needing to win all three remaining matches to keep its season alive.
Ole Miss had to like its chances at court No. 1, where 37th-ranked Marcel Thiemann was serving up 5-4 in the third set against 36th-ranked Daniel Kosakowski. The Bruin freshman, however, showed tremendous heart, breaking Thiemann for 5-5 before winning the next two games to pull out a 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 win.
"We looked like we were kind of out of it, but I just had to keep fighting," said Kosakowski. "I knew that I had to prove myself and I knew if I could do it, I was confident that (my teammates) could pull through too."
Perhaps inspired by his teammate's victory next door at court No. 1, Amit Inbar would then tie things up at court No. 2, as he downed Tucker Vorster, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 to even the match at 3-3.
"I'm just happy that I came through for the guys and for the team," said Inbar. "It was tough. It was just a great feeling to win it and to send us to Stanford. Hopefully we can make it deep over there."
Inbar's victory then forced all the attention on court No. 5, where senior Holden Seguso was serving down 5-6 in the third set against Mississippi's Johan Backstrom. Seguso, who failed to convert several match points while serving up 5-4 in the third set, was able to hold serve and send the match to a third-set tiebreaker. Up 6-4 in the deciding tiebreaker, Seguso clinched the match when a Backstrom service return landed beyond the baseline, prompting UCLA's team to rush the court.
"I'm just glad we made it through," said Seguso. "We had a big pressure situation and that will definitely help us when we get to those moments at the NCAA's in Stanford."
It marks the second time in three years that UCLA has pulled off a thrilling victory over Ole Miss in the NCAA Tournament, as the Bruins also notched a 4-3 win over the second-seeded Rebels in the 2009 NCAA Quarterfinals in College Station, Texas.
UCLA already owns a victory over Baylor this season, winning 4-3 in Waco on Feb. 6. The two teams will square off on Thursday, May 19 at 3:00 p.m. (PST).
#11 UCLA 4, #28 Ole Miss 3
May 14, 2011 at Los Angeles, CA (Los Angeles Tennis Center)
|1. #10 C. Thiemann/M. Thiemann (MISS) def. #32 Alex Brigham/Puget (UCLA) 8-3|
|2. Lutjen/Vorster (MISS) def. #57 Warren Hardie/Inbar (UCLA) 8-5|
|3. Kosakowski/Seguso (UCLA) vs. Backstrom/Kalle Norberg (MISS) 5-7, unfinished|
|1. #37 Daniel Kosakowski (UCLA) def. #36 Marcel Thiemann (MISS) 6-3, 1-6, 7-5|
|2. #58 Amit Inbar (UCLA) def. #52 Tucker Vorster (MISS) 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3|
|3. Jonas Lutjen (MISS) def. #79 Clay Thompson (UCLA) 7-6(4), 6-1|
|4. Chris Thiemann (MISS) def. #103 Adrien Puget (UCLA) 6-4, 6-3|
|5. Holden Seguso (UCLA) def. Johan Backstrom (MISS) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4)|
|6. Maxime Tabatruong (UCLA) def. A. Forberg Skogeng (MISS) 6-1, 6-2|
|Ole Miss 13-10; National ranking #28|
|UCLA 18-6; National ranking #11|
|Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (6,4,3,1,2,5)|
|UCLA advances to NCAA Round of 16 next week in Stanford, Calif.|