No. 7 men’s tennis fall in Big 12 Quarterfinals

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Reese Stalder lets his loss sink in en route to TCU falling to Oklahoma State on April 19, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

LAWRENCE, KS – Winds that neared 20 mph and a feisty Cowboy squad got the best of the Horned Frogs in Lawrence, Kansas, as they fell 2-4 in the first round of the Big 12 tournament.

For the first time in four years, No. 7 TCU (19-6) will head back to Fort Worth with no new Big 12 hardware. The loss to No. 32 Oklahoma State (15-10) marks their third conference loss of the season, the second-most in a season in TCU’s Big 12 tenure.

Alex Rybakov and Alastair Gray battle back in a loss to Oklahoma State on April 19, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

Doubles caught by surprise

Despite two top-20 doubles teams, the Frogs were swept in doubles for the fifth time this season. They now hold a 2-3 overall record when swept in doubles.

The No. 2 doubles team of No. 15 Reese Stalder/Bertus Kruger had their worst loss of the year, falling 1-6. They finished the season 2-3 with one unfinished match against Big 12 competition on the year.

Luc Fomba and Sander Jong held their own at the No. 3 position, but could not finish the job, falling in a nail-biting 6-7 (5-7) loss.

The No. 1 team of Alex Rybakov/Alastair Gray, ranked No. 13 nationally, were up in a tiebreaker 6-6 (4-2) when the doubles point was called.

Bertus Kruger disputes a missed call in his win against Oklahoma State on April 19, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

Late comeback can’t slow Pokes down

Singles began in a similar fashion to doubles as the Pokes battered the Frogs left and right to take five of six first sets. Kruger was the lone winner.

Despite the early sucker punch, TCU regained their footing and responded with an inverse 5-1 record in second sets.

Reese Stalder sulks in the wake of his loss against Oklahoma State on April 19, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

The only Frog to fall in the first two sets was No. 110 Stalder, who fell 3-6, 2-6. This loss sets his overall season record at 17-10 and his Big 12 record at 3-4.

For the second time in the last two weeks, Kruger provided a big win at the No. 4 singles position, this time winning 6-4, 7-6 (1-0). His season record now stands at 14-8, 3-4 in Big 12 play.

Jong followed up with another victory (3-6, 6-3, 6-2) on court six, tying the match up at two apiece. His current four-match win streak is the best on the team. Jong’s season record is 11-7, 4-2 in Big 12 play.

No. 3 Rybakov faced off against No. 48 Matej Vocel who Rybakov had bested twice this season already. A 3-6 first set loss followed by a 6-1 second set domination split the first two sets and left the fate of the match in the third set.

Sander Jong calls a point in in his win over Oklahoma State on April 19, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

Vocel would blitz out to a 5-0 lead, all but sealing the win. However, Rybakov would race back into the match, bringing it to 5-4. Despite the late comeback, the senior Frog couldn’t close the gap and he fell for only the third time this season, 3-6, 6-1, 4-6.

Rybakov’s loss would set his final record at 15-3, 5-2 in Big 12 play.

Luc Fomba recharges in his loss against Oklahoma State on April 19, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

With only one more win to clinch, Oklahoma State went for the knockout punch on court five, defeating Fomba 4-6, 6-3, 4-6.

The loss sealed TCU’s winless conference tournament run for the second consecutive year after they swept the tournament back-to-back years in 2016 and 2017.


The TCU squad huddles up in preparation for their quarterfinal match against Oklahoma State on April 19, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

Frogs’ NCAA hopes still alive

Despite the loss, TCU is in no way out of NCAA consideration. They sit at 19-6 on the year, including 12 ranked wins. The Frogs also finished third in the Big 12 in the regular season.

TCU has made the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 rounds in all of their last four consecutive postseason appearances.

Up next:

The Frogs await their postseason fate in the NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Selection Show which will air at 6 p.m. Monday, April 29. If selected this will mark the 31st all-time appearance in the Frog’s 45-season tenure.