Virginia Ends Pepperdine's NCAA Championship Run in the Semifinals
May 21, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. - The Pepperdine men's tennis team's incredible run at the NCAA Championship came to a close this evening, following a 4-1 loss to #2-ranked Virginia. The Waves end their season with a 27-7 record, which includes a program-best 24 match win streak that started last February.
"I don't even have words for what my team has done this year and what they have overcome," said head coach Adam Steinberg following the match. "They did it the right way, the Pepperdine way. I'm more than proud. I can't even thank them enough for the ride they have taken me on this year. It's been so much fun. I want to congratulate my team as well. They had an amazing tournament."
The loss comes just a night after Pepperdine pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament: beating Georgia on its home court. The Waves downed the Bulldogs 4-3 in front of over 3,100 fans. It was a rare postseason home loss for Georgia, who has claimed three NCAA titles at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex since 1999.
"It was incredible," said Steinberg of his overall experience at the NCAA Tournament, "I just told them that. It's a dream. It should be a dream for every young tennis player all over the world to come play in the final 16, wherever it is. But it's special here in Athens. It has a special place in my heart here. I've come to this tournament since I was a kid watching it. I played here as a college player. It was a dream come true last night (vs. Georgia), but most importantly for my guys that they have a memory of a lifetime now. There's no better tennis venue in the United States than right here in Athens."
The Cavaliers (29-1) have a date with top-ranked USC in Tuesday's championship match. The Trojans defeated UCLA to advance to the finals.
Virginia, amped by a strong fan showing, controlled the tempo early on in doubles. Sebastian Fanselow (Essen, Germany/Kaplan College Prep) and Jenson Turner (Woodland Hills, Calif./Campbell Hall HS) fell back a break early to Justin Shane and Julen Uriguen but continued to fight from behind. The effort fell short, however, as the Waves lost 8-4.
Turner and Fanselow's career win tally as a doubles team stands at 34, which ranks fifth in career victories in the Waves' record book.
Hugh Clarke (Brisbane, Australia/Brisbane Boys College) and David Sofaer (Bellevue Hill, Australia/Sydney Distance Education HS) fought for every hold, but eventually fell back a break to Mitchell Frank and Alex Domijan, 4-6. The Wave tandem was never fully able to recover from the setback, and bowed out 8-4.
Despite the loss, the senior-sophomore Aussie duo boasts a season record of 24-4. Not only does that rank tied for second in the single-season wins category, but the winning percentage of .857 ties for 10th place in the program annuls.
Alex Llompart (Carolina, Puerto Rico/San Juan Educational School) and Finn Tearney (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College), ranked #15 in the ITA doubles rankings, went game-for-game with #5-ranked Drew Courtney and Jarmere Jenkins, and were still on serve, 7-8, when play was suspended.
Despite the setback, the Wave got off to a solid start in singles. Unfortunately, looming thunder showers forced play to be moved inside. Pepperdine and Virginia utilized two of the four indoor courts, while UCLA and USC competed on the remaining two.
Tearney was down 1-5 in the first set when action moved inside. Although he eventually dropped the frame 6-3 to Domijan, Tearney battled his way to a 6-3 win in the second set. The comeback effort stopped there however, as Domijan won 6-1 in set three.
Fanselow began play indoors on serve, up 4-3. The junior walked away with a 6-4 win in the opener, before Jenkins mirrored the score in the second stanza. Fanselow got the upper hand on Jenkins in the deciding frame, winning 6-4 to put a point on the board for the Waves.
It was the first time all tournament Virginia had given up a point, winning its four previous matches 4-0. The win was also Fanselow's third of the season against a top-5 ranked opponent.
Llompart took his spot on the court, and was tied 3-3 versus #2-ranked Frank when competition resumed. The senior captain suffered a narrow loss in the tiebreaker of the opening set, and was unable to put a run on Frank, falling 6-2 in the second.
The senior's heroics yesterday, however, will not soon be forgotten. Llompart gritted out a three-set win in the quarterfinals to give Pepperdine the go-ahead point and clinch the victory over Georgia. Llompart ends his illustrious career with 76 singles wins (dual match play only), to sit in a tie for seventh in program history.
Mousheg Hovhannisyan (North Hollywood, Calif./Continental Academy) replaced Fanselow on the court, and, similar to Llompart, suffered a crushing loss in the first set tiebreaker.
Meanwhile, Turner and Clarke made their way to the empty courts as the USC-UCLA match had wrapped up.
Courtney, standing 6-5, dished a powerful serve and would not be broken. He won 6-2 in the second set to secure the win for Virginia.
"I want to congratulate Virginia," continued Steinberg. "They have a great team. They were just too tough for us. It wasn't coming indoors, they just played better than us tonight. All credit goes to them. It should be a great final tomorrow."
The season continues for Fanselow, Tearney and Llompart, who will compete in the singles and doubles championship later in the week. Draws for the tournament are scheduled to be released tomorrow, May 22 and play is slated to begin Thursday, May 23.