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May 17, 2013

Bulldogs eliminate Sooners in Sweet 16

URBANA, Ill. — Don’t look at the final score. As a historical record, it’s plenty accurate. But as an indicator of how close the Oklahoma men came to advancing to the NCAA tennis tournament’s Elite Eight, it’s hardly adequate.

Georgia topped the Sooners 4-1 Thursday, first claiming the doubles point and then winning three of the first four singles matches to go final.

Had OU’s Leonard Stakhovsky, at No. 5 singles, found a way to pull out a three-set victory over Garrett Brasseaux, it would well have been the 14th-ranked Sooners moving past the No. 2 Bulldogs.

At the moment the No. 5 singles match went final, the Sooners were leading in the remaining two singles matches still in progress.

At No. 1, Costin Paval was leading Ben Wagland 5-4 in the third. Paval had dropped the first set 5-7, but evened the match by winning the second set 6-4. And at No. 2, Guillermo Alcorta had taken the first set from Austin Smith in a tiebreaker, lost the second 2-6, but was leading 2-1 in the third.

With that, a very big season of Sooner men’s tennis came to an end. In coach John Roddick’s fourth season in Norman, OU won its second straight Big 12 championship, reached a top-five ranking for the first time and reached the ITA National Team Indoor Championships for the first time. It was also OU’s second trip to the Sweet 16 under Roddick.

“Georgia played tough today and they deserve a lot of credit,” Roddick said.

The match that ended the dual, Brasseaux’s win over Stakhovsky, was a bit of a classic itself.

Stakhovsky won the first set 6-4, dropped the second 3-6 and was trailing 5-3 in the third when Brasseaux reached 40-love with three match points on his own serve. Instead, Stakhovsky came back and won the game to keep the match going. Brasseaux managed to digest that failure and come back to win the next game and the match.

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