May 17, 1998
TULSA, Okla. The top-seeded and 12th-ranked California mens tennis team advanced to the 1998 NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga., Sunday, with a 4-2 victory over second-seeded and 26th-ranked Oklahoma State in the title match of the NCAA Region V Championship. The NCAA Championship berth, the 29th in the storied history of Cal mens tennis, is the first since 1995 for the Bears.
For the second straight day the Bears found themselves in a hole early on as Oklahoma State claimed the doubles point to open the match with 1-0 lead. The Cal tandem of David Sutton and Scott Kintz were the first to fall as Oklahoma States Rob Howarth and Daniel Russo handed the Bear pair an 8-1 loss on court No. 3. The Cowboys sewed up the doubles point on court No. 1, 9-8, but it didnt come easy as Cals Bobby Mahal and Minh Le, who were playing in only their second match of the season together, took the nations No. 2-ranked doubles pair of Martin Dvoracek and Pavel Kudrnac to the limit before falling 7-2 in a tie-breaker.
We havent been very strong in doubles play this season, Cal head coach Peter Wright said. Our doubles teams are all new (for NCAA play). But we did play better today. If we would have won the doubles point, it probably would have crushed Oklahoma State. They have one of the best doubles teams in the nation.
It didnt take Cal long to get back on track, however, as the Bears quickly tied the match, 1-1, when Le opened singles play with a 6-0, 6-2 rout of Dvoracek at No. 3. Just minutes later, Sutton gave the Bears their first lead of the afternoon with a 6-2, 6-2 thrashing of Russo on court No. 6. The No. 1 position was the next to finish as Kudrnac, ranked fourth in the nation, outlasted a second-set comeback by Mahal to escape with a 6-2, 6-4 win that once again evened the match, 2-2.
Senior team captain Kian Raiszadeh finally gave Cal the lead for good when he dispatched OSUs Howarth on court No. 5 6-3, 6-1 and freshman Adrian Barnes provided the championship-clinching point that sent the Bears on to Athens with a 7-6, 6-2 victory in the No. 4 slot.
The comeback was nothing new for us. Wright added. Weve been doing it all year long. Our guys were just tasting this victory. Even after falling behind after doubles, they just knew they were going to win four of the singles matches. Were an experienced team with a lot of seniors and to be down like that doesnt faze this group. I cant tell you how excited they are to be moving on to Athens.
Cal, which will be seeded in a group of four from No. 9-12, will face a No. 5-8 seed in its NCAA Championships first round match on Saturday, May 23. The draw for the entire championship will be released by the NCAA on Monday.
Men's College Tennis
(One point each)
1. Pavel Kudrnac (OSU) def. Bobby Mahal (Cal) 6-2, 6-4
2. Nathan Jackmon (Cal) led Brad Chiller (OSU) 7-6, 2-3 (Abandoned)
3. Minh Le (Cal) def. Martin Dvoracek (OSU) 6-0, 6-2
4. Adrian Barnes (Cal) def. Chris Bates (OSU) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
5. Kian Raiszadeh (Cal) def. Rob Howarth (OSU) 6-3, 6-1
6. David Sutton (Cal) def. Daniel Russo (OSU) 6-2, 6-2
(One point for winning 2-of-3)
1. Dvoracek/Kudrnac (OSU) def. Le/Mahal (Cal) 9-8 (7-2)
2. Jackmon/Chris Santoso (Cal) led Bates/Chiller (OSU) 7-5 (Abandoned)
3. Howarth/Russo (OSU) def. Sutton/Scott Kintz (Cal) 8-1