Tulsa Men's Tennis Team Captures Conference USA Championship Title
April 23, 2006
Tulsa, Okla. -
No. 3 seed Tulsa claimed the 2006 Conference USA Men's Tennis Championship with a 4-1 upset victory over top-seeded Rice on Sunday at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center. The 42nd-ranked Golden Hurricane fell behind 1-0 after the doubles point was secured by the 28th-ranked Owls, but Tulsa rolled through the singles matches, picking up four straight-set victories to capture the title and earn the league's automatic bid to the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
The conference title is the first for the Golden Hurricane men's tennis team since winning back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference crowns in 1995 and 1996, and it was the program's 10th overall conference title. The trip to the NCAA's is the Golden Hurricane's first since earning an at-large bid in 2002, and the eighth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.
As a first-year member of Conference USA, the Golden Hurricane has claimed three conference titles, as TU also tallied conference championships in football and women's basketball.
"It always feels special winning a championship," Tulsa Head Coach Vince Westbrook said. I'm very happy for our guys. It's been a tough three weeks on us, and until this past Tuesday we didn't turn it around, and now you see what happened. We're playing solid."
The Golden Hurricane picked up singles wins in the No. 1, No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5 positions to capture its four points. It was senior Diego Camacho that sealed the victory for the second consecutive day with his straight set win over Rice's Christoph Muller, 7-6, 6-0, at the No. 5 spot.
"Today, in the doubles we played tight," Westbrook added. "We showed our youth in the doubles, absolutely showed our youth in the doubles. Then, we came out in the singles and made up our mind that Rice wasn't going to give it to us and we were going to have to fight for everything. That's why we had complete control of the singles."
The top-ranked player in the tournament, Tulsa's Arnau Brugues recorded his first win of the championship with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over 29th-ranked Robert Searle in the No. 1 singles match. Brugues, ranked 12th in the country, did not finish his previous match in the semifinals after sitting out the quarterfinals with an injury.
The 20th-ranked Rice doubles tandem of Searle and Tony Haerle defeated Tulsa's Brugues and Aleksander Charpantidis, 8-4, to earn the doubles point for the Owls. The No. 1 doubles match became important after the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles matches were split between the two teams. The Tulsa duo of Andy Connelly and Ross Cunningham won the No. 2 match, 8-5, while Rice took the No. 3 match as Jason Mok and Rodrigo Gabriel posted an 8-3 victory.
#3, 42nd-Ranked Tulsa defeated #1, 28th-Ranked Rice, 4-1 Singles - #12 Arnau Brugues (TU) def. #29 Robert Searle, 6-3, 6-1 #57 Federico Soriano (TU) def. #122 Ben Harknett, 6-1, 6-4 Tony Haerle (RU) vs. #118 Ricardo Soriano, dnf Will Gray (TU) def. Filip Zivojinovic, 6-0, 7-5 Diego Camacho (TU) def. Christoph Muller, 7-6, 6-0 Jason Mok (RU) vs. Ross Cunningham, dnf Doubles - #20 Haerle/Searle (RU) def. Brugues/Aleksander Charpantidis, 8-4 Andy Connelly/Cunningham (TU) def. Harknett/Muller, 8-5 Rodrigo Gabriel/Mok (RU) def. F. Soriano/R. Soriano, 8-3
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