Ducks Rally Past Alabama in NCAA Opener
WACO, Texas – Needing four wins in singles play, the Oregon men's tennis team responded for a 4-3 win over No. 26 Alabama Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Championship. The Ducks have now advanced to the second round in their past four NCAA appearances (2016, 2017, 2018, 2021).
"I knew we were a gritty bunch," head coach Nils Schyllander said. "We've shown that all season and today it really shined through after dropping the doubles point. I thought we played tougher when it came down to the big points down the stretch."
For a second-consecutive match, senior Emmanuel Coste clinched a 4-3 victory for Oregon. He recorded a 7-5, 7-6(8) win over No. 43 Edson Ortiz at No. 1 singles, saving three set points in the tiebreaker before cashing in on his second match point.
The Ducks will next face No. 1-ranked Baylor in the second round; the host Bears are the tournament's No. 2 overall seed. That match will take place Sunday at 12 p.m. (PT) at the Hurd Tennis Center in Waco, Texas.
How It Happened: After the Ducks squared the doubles scoreboard with a win at the top spot, the opening point of the match came down to court three. Brandon Lam and Ryoma Matsushita trailed 4-5 but broke to extend the match and pull even at 5-all. However, Alabama rattled off the final two games to win the doubles point.
With their victory at No. 1 doubles, Joshua Charlton and Quinn Vandecasteele—ranked No. 50 in this week's ITA poll—tallied their second win over a top-25 opponent this season. Patrick Kaukovalta and Riccardo Roberto are ranked No. 23 in the nation and will play in the NCAA Doubles draw. The win for Charlton and Vandecasteele was their 10th of the season.
Individually, Charlton and Vandecasteele got the Ducks on the board with singles wins on courts two and three, respectively. Finishing almost simultaneously, Charlton posted a 6-4, 6-1 win over No. 66 Patrick Kaukovalta while Vandecasteele beat No. 57 Zhe Zhou by way of a 6-2, 6-3 score.
The wins gave Oregon a brief 2-1 lead before Alabama (14-12) regained the lead with wins on courts six and five, respectively.
Jesper Klöv-Nilsson was stretched to a third set but raced through the final frame on his way to a 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 win over Roberto at No. 4 singles. Klöv-Nilsson has won 10 of 12 including five in a row and leads Oregon with 18 wins this season. The result tied the match at 3-all which turned all focus to the match between Coste and Ortiz which was late in the second set.
Coste had erased an early break before the second set eventually went to a tiebreak. Ortiz jumped out to the advantage and led 5-2 before the UO senior rattled off four of the next five points to tie things at 6-all. Coste fought off a third set point down 7-6, and then on his second match point, he watched as an Ortiz forehand landed long.
The win for Coste was his fourth of the season over a ranked opponent.
NCAA Championship – First Round
#37 Oregon 4, #26 Alabama 3
Hurd Tennis Center (Waco, Texas)
1. #50 Charlton/Q. Vandecasteele (ORE) d. #23 Kaukovalta/Roberto (ALA) – 6-4
2. Ortiz/Nesterov (ALA) d. Coste/Klöv-Nilsson (ORE) – 6-3
3. Sepulveda/Zhou (ALA) d. Lam/Matsushita (ORE) – 7-5
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3
1. Emmanuel Coste (ORE) d. #43 Edson Ortiz (ALA) – 7-5, 7-6(8)
2. Joshua Charlton (ORE) d. #66 Patrick Kaukovalta (ALA) – 6-4, 6-1
3. Quinn Vandecasteele (ORE) d. #57 Zhe Zhou (ALA) – 6-2, 6-3
4. Jesper Klöv-Nilsson (ORE) d. Riccardo Roberto (ALA) – 6-2, 2-6, 6-1
5. Alexey Nesterov (ALA) d. Brandon Lam (ORE) – 6-2, 1-6, 6-1
6. Jeremy Gschwendtner (ALA) d. Luke Vandecasteele (ORE) – 6-3, 6-2
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 6, 5, 4, 1
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