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First Round Victory! ASU Tops Shockers 4-3 in Nailbiter

May 8, 2021

FORT WORTH, Texas - Arizona State is moving on! The Sun Devils used a huge effort from George Stoupe to top Wichita State 4-3 Saturday afternoon in round one of the NCAA Championships. Stoupe fought back after losing the first set to take the middle frame and win the day on a 7-5 third-set tiebreak. ASU now advances to the second round for the second time in the Matt Hill era and will play TCU Sunday at 1 p.m. (11 a.m. MST).

"It was incredibly impressive to see George stay focused after being down 40-love and having four match-points against him," head coach Matt Hill said. "He didn't panic, he stayed the course, and it was amazing getting out of that game then getting out of the break. Just incredible swings and effort to stay focused from him."


How it happened:
ASU kicked off the day with a hard-fought double spoint victory. The Shockers took early leads on No. 1 and 2, WSU going up 3-1 over the Sun Devils' pairings on both courts. Max McKennon and Nathan Ponwith rallied on the middle court though and completely turned the match around, going on a tear to win 6-3 over Luka Mrsic/Orel Ovil. Makey Rakotomalala and Tim Ruehl were unable to do the same at No. 1 and fell 2-6.
Christian Lerby and George Stoupe kept it close start to finish at No. 3. After going up 1-2, the tandems evenly traded games all the way up to 6-6 where ASU's pairing eventually battled to a 7-6 (5) victory to put ASU ahead 1-0.
The Sun Devils stumbled at the start of singles. The Shockers took 3-0, 4-1, and 5-1 leads early on on courts one, four and six that would eventually lead to Ponwith, Stoupe and Christian Lerby all dropping their opening frames. Rakotomalala came out blazing though, easily winning his first set 6-1 at No. 2. McKennon followed with a 6-3 victory at No. 5, and Ruehl closed out his opening set with a come-from-behind 6-4 victory after being down 4-3.
Nathan Ponwith was the first Sun Devil to finish when he fell in straight sets. McKennon and Ruehl then went on to be the first two off the courts with wins for ASU. The Sun Devils wrapped up at the same time, McKennon taking court five 6-3, 6-3, and Ruehl winning 6-4, 6-2 at court three. Loses at six and two from Christian Lerby and Rakotomalala left the match in George Stoupe's hands. The Kiwi dropped his first set 2-6 but rallied in a second-set tiebreak (7-6) to tie things up. The final frame saw Stoupe go up 3-2 on Nicolas Acevedo, then 5-4, then 6-5, before ultimately winning the tiebreak and thus the match 7-5
Up Next:
Arizona State takes on TCU at 1 p.m. (11 a.m. MST) (Watch/Live Stats).
TCU is 16-7 on the year heading into it's Saturday afternoon date with the Razorbacks. The Horned Frogs opened the Big-12 Championship with a 4-0 sweep over No. 26 Oklahoma before losing 4-3 to Baylor. Sander Jong has been the best Horned Frog as of late. He's 11-8 on the year and on a three-match winning streak. Five TCU players are in the top-110 of the ITA singles rankings. TCU will send two to singles nationals in a few weeks (Alastair Gray, Luc Fomba).

May 8, 2021 at Fort Worth, Texas
(Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center)
#20 Arizona State 4, #32 Wichita State 3

Singles competition
1. #39 Murkel Dellien (WSU) def. #84 Nathan Ponwith (ASU) 6-2, 6-2
2. Marius Frosa (WSU) def. Makey Rakotomalala (ASU) 1-6, 7-5, 6-2
3. Tim Ruehl (ASU) def. Stefan Latinovic (WSU) 6-4, 6-2
4. George Stoupe (ASU) def. Nicolas Acevedo (WSU) 2-6, 7-6 (7-0), 7-6 (7-5)
5. Max McKennon (ASU) def. Orel Ovil (WSU) 6-3, 6-3
6. Luka Mrsic (WSU) def. Christian Lerby (ASU) 6-3, 7-5
Doubles competition
1. #40 Marius Frosa/Murkel Dellien (WSU) def. Makey Rakotomalala/Tim Ruehl (ASU) 6-2
2. #95 Max McKennon/Nathan Ponwith (ASU) def. Luka Mrsic/Orel Ovil (WSU) 6-3
3. Christian Lerby/George Stoupe (ASU) def. Stefan Latinovic/Nicolas Acevedo (WSU) 7-6 (7-5)
Match Notes:
Wichita State 15-8; National ranking #32
Arizona State 16-7; National ranking #20
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (1,5,3,6,2,4)
Official: Myron Kruger