Photo courtesy of gofrogs.com
The TCU men’s tennis team needed one more win to send them back to the ITA Team Indoor National Championship.
The Frogs picked up that victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Sunday at the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center. No. 3 TCU beat No. 28 Oklahoma State 4-3 in the championship match of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend.
TCU is now headed back to the ITA Team Indoor National Championship for the second straight year.
“We had some guys really step up today,” TCU head coach David Roditi said. “Today I feel like we learned so much and we were able to get the win.”
Roditi said last year’s experience in the Indoor Championship helps give the team confidence going forward.
“I think last year helps,” Roditi said. “I mean we can’t do any worse, right? We lost all three matches.”
The berth to nationals did not come easy. The Frogs had to fight from behind after losing the doubles match point.
Oklahoma State’s Temur Ismailov and Lucas Gerch beat TCU’s Guillermo Nunez and Jerry Lopez to start the match. Lukas Finzelberg and Jurence Mendoza finished off Alex Rybakov and Reece Stalder to give the Cowboys an early 1-0 lead.
The No. 4 player in the country, Cameron Norrie, got the Frogs back on track. Norrie dominated Ismailov 6-1, 6-2.
The Frogs and Cowboys played a tight match from there on out.
TCU took a 3-2 lead after Eduardo Nava defeated Tristan Meraut 7-6, 6-4.
Guillermo Nunez had a chance to close the match out for the Frogs, but lost a tough one against the Cowboys’ top player, Julian Cash, 6-7, 7-6, 4-6.
With the match tied up 3-3, both teams turned to court four. Ironically, Jerry Lopez and Lucas Gerch were locked up 3-3 in the third set when all eyes fell on them.
Jerry Lopez was able to will TCU to victory behind the support of the Horned Frog faithful. Lopez won the match 7-6, 5-7, 6-3, clinching a birth to the ITA Team Indoor National Championship.
“It was unbelievable,” Lopez said. “Getting out of there with a victory was huge, and you feel such a relief after that.”
Lopez said the most important thing was to stay calm — not exactly the easiest thing to do during the biggest match of your career.
But Lopez was able to control his nerves and perform under the pressure.
“I’m proud of Jerry,” Roditi said. “He just kept hanging in there. There were times where he didn’t feel very good and he came back. He kept sticking mentally in the match.”
Coach Roditi said the team will practice only indoors for the next two weeks in preparation for the tournament.
The ITA Team Indoor National Championship will be held on Feb. 12-15 in Charlottesville, Virginia.