Waves Advance to NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals with 4-2 Win Over Memphis
May 16, 2013
URBANA, Ill.- Despite dropping the doubles point, the #12 Pepperdine men’s tennis team rallied back in singles to defeat #32 Memphis 4-2 in NCAA Tournament round of 16 contest held at the University of Illinois. The Waves will face #2 Georgia in the quarterfinals for the second-straight season.
Memphis (16-8) took early control of the dual after a solid performance in doubles. Joe Salisbury and David O’Hare, ranked #64 in the ITA doubles poll, cruised to an 8-2 win on court one while the Tigers’ No. 3 team of David O'Leary and Cedric De Zutter clinched the point with an 8-5 triumph.
The Waves still entered singles with confidence. Although Pepperdine has lost the doubles point 11 times this season prior to today, the team has still walked away with the overall victory on eight occasions.
“We knew that the strength of their team was their doubles and we’ve lost a lot of doubles points this year so we were kind of used to it,” explained head coach Adam Steinberg. “We know the strength of our team is in our singles for sure and we felt good. We know we can compete with anybody so I was proud of our guys for playing with amazing energy.”
Pepperdine (27-5) fired back in a big way in singles, winning five of the six opening sets.
Alex Sarkissian (Glendale, Calif./Glendale CC) quickly put Pepperdine on the board, disposing of Salisbury 6-2, 6-3 from the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
The Tigers didn’t go away quietly, however, and regained the lead after David O’Hare posted a straight-set decision on court six.
After escaping the first set with a 7-3 win in the tiebreaker, Sebastian Fanselow (Essen, Germany/Kaplan College Prep) steadily found his rhythm and his serve and cruised to a 6-1 triumph in set two.
With just three matches remaining and the score knotted at 2-2, it was still anybody’s match. Francis Alcantara (Cagayan de Oro, Philippines/Fresno State) fell in set two vs. Johnny Grimal and was heading to a third, while both Mousheg Hovhannisyan (North Hollywood, Calif./Continental HS) and Finn Tearney (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College) were locked in heated second-set battles after winning their respective first sets.
Although O'Leary fought off match point to comeback 5-4 in the second set vs. Hovhannisyan, the senior Wave held serve to win 6-4 in the second and give Pepperdine the go-ahead point 3-2.
Tearney also made a late run and clinched the 4-2 win for the Waves after outlasting Lukas Vrnak 6-2, 6-4.
The Bulldogs, despite playing without their No. 1 singles player KU Singh, topped #14 Oklahoma 4-1 in the round of 16. UGA and Pepperdine met in the quarterfinals last season in Athens, Ga. The Waves pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament with their 4-3 victory over the hometown favorite. Pepperdine was ranked #7 at the time and issued the #3-ranked Bulldogs just their second home loss of the season.
“It doesn’t get easier from here,” said Tearney. “Last year we played Georgia in the quarterfinals. We’re going to be prepared, they’re going to be prepared and it’s going to be an amazing battle.”
Georgia enters the quarterfinals with a 25-4 record.
The Pepperdine vs. Georgia match is scheduled for Saturday, May 18 at 10 a.m. (PT)/12 p.m. (CT). Live scores, as well as video can be found at the NCAA Tournament Central, while live match updates can also be followed on Twitter @PeppTennis.
Memphis vs Pepperdine
#12 Pepperdine 4, #32 Memphis 2