By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — As it turns out, losing the Big 12 tennis championship in a final-match 4-3 decision to the nation’s sixth-ranked team isn’t such a bad thing, at least not for the Oklahoma men.
For the Sooner men, it merely turned out to be a prelude to the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA tennis championship.
Not so dissimilar to March Madness, or the NCAA softball draw, the tennis’ national champion will also come out of a 64-team field that begins with 16 regionals, one of them at the Headington Family Tennis Center, where OU will begin on its home courts 2 p.m. May 10 against Montana.
The winner of that dual will meet the winner of Harvard and Auburn, which meet at 11 a.m., the same day, also on OU’s courts.
The winners of the two duals meet at 2 p.m. Sunday, and the winner of that match reaches the round of 16, which moves to Athens, Ga., where a national champion will eventually be determined.
Southern Cal has the overall No. 1 seed. Though ranked a spot behind No. 2 Ohio State, the Sooners may have earned the higher seed as a result of beating Ohio State earlier in the season.
Upon hearing of the appointment, OU coach John Roddick sounded the same positive tone he sounded after the Sooners lost to No. 6 Baylor in the Big 12 tourney final Sunday in Fort Worth.
“We did a lot of things we needed to do and proved a lot of things to ourselves,” he said. “We proved that we’re playing better in every spot.”
Roddick added there have been times this season his team has gotten away with playing poorly, only to win. And, at Fort Worth, the opposite was the case. Now, the Sooners must play well and win.
“A team that wins isn’t going to be the one that didn’t play well,” he said. “The Big 12 tournament just proved to us that we can play with anyone, one through six.”
Montana earned its bid by being champion of the Big Sky Conference.
Sooner women headed to Miami: OU’s women’s tennis team fell victim to a doubly tough conference at the Big 12 championships, losing its first-round match 4-3 to eventual tourney runner-up Oklahoma State.
But the Sooners are still ranked 18th and have been rewarded with an NCAA championship appointment against No. 54 Wichita State on May 9 at the Miami Regional. The winner of that match will play the winner of Miami and Boston University on May 10.
Sooners gain five individual entries: Once a team champion is determined, the NCAA draw will then focus on individuals. Just like the team title, it begins with a 64-entry bracket, and four Sooner men are in it: Guillermo Alcorta, Axel Alvarez, Andrew Harris and Dane Webb were all selected to compete, as well as the doubles team of Harris and Webb.
Those draws begin May 21, also in Athens, Ga., after a team champion has been decided.
Follow me @clayhorning
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