Men’s tennis sweeps opening two rounds of NCAA tournament

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The TCU men’s tennis team poses with the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championships sign after their win over Arizona State on May 4, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

No. 9 men’s tennis dominated Harvard and Arizona State en route to earning a trip to the Sweet 16.

Alex Rybakov focuses on the match ahead with the rest of the tennis team before facing Harvard on May 3, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace.

An afternoon thunderstorm didn’t cool down the Frogs as they raced out to a hot start against Harvard, quickly taking the doubles point and nearly sweeping singles in a 4-1 win.

Doubles was never in doubt, as the two top-25 teams of Alex Rybakov/Alastair Gray and Reese Stalder/Bertus Kruger won 6-1 and 6-4, respectively.

“I thought we came out with great energy in doubles, especially at No. 1,” head coach David Roditi said. “We got that early break, that quick point, and that puts a lot of pressure on them to win the remaining doubles matches.”

In singles, Kruger continued his slide, losing the sixth of his last nine matches. His 3-6, 3-6 loss was only his third straight-set loss of the season.

Alastair Gray returns a low shot in his doubles win over Harvard on May 3, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace.

Gray put the Frogs back in the lead with a dominant 6-1, 6-4 win, his first victory since his win at Oklahoma. The win improves his non-conference record to 13-2.

“Very solid performance by Alastair Gray, the whole time there was no doubt,” Roditi said.

Luc Fomba and Stalder finished within seconds of each other, both winning in straight sets.

After his four-match losing streak, Stalder has gotten back into form, going 2-1 in his last three. Fomba was down 1-4 and 2-5 in the first set before a comeback to take the first set 7-5. He went onto win 7-5, 6-3.

“Fomba, he’s hard to play,” Roditi said. “He’s a big, huge, athletic guy and he’s very chill, but he’s a lot more competitive than people would think.”

Luc Fomba (left) and Sander Jong celebrate after Fomba’s clinching win over Arizona State on May 4, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace.

In a highly-anticipated rematch, the Frogs once again got the best of the Sun Devils.

Luc Fomba (left) and Sander Jong embrace after their doubles victory over Arizona State on May 4, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace.

Fomba and Jong brought the Frogs three of their four points today, a huge contribution for the bottom two spots in the lineup.

“The freshmen were MVP’s today,” Roditi said. “They won a huge doubles point at No. 3 doubles, it’s a hell of a doubles team. Then they both go and back it up in singles.”

Stalder finished first, falling 3-6, 3-6. He had lost in three sets in the Sun Devils’ last visit to Fort Worth. After kicking off the season on a 9-0 run, the loss sets his final home singles record this season at 10-5.

Not long after, Jong once again came through with a huge win at the No. 6 spot, taking revenge on Makey Rakotomalala for a loss earlier this season. The 6-4, 6-3 win gives Jong a team-best five-match winning streak.

Alex Rybakov lets loose after a tight victory over Arizona State on May 4, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace.

Rybakov came in for a clutch victory down the stretch to put TCU at just one win away from victory with a 6-3, 6-4 win.

“Rybakov, he’s, he’s just… We’re gonna miss him,” Roditi said. “Just liked we missed Norrie, we’re gonna miss Rybakov.”

Luc Fomba yells in triumph after his singles win over Arizona State on May 4, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace.

Fomba repeated history, clinching the Arizona State match just like he did back in March. His 6-3, 6-4 win gives him a team-best 11-1 home record.

“It’s so hard to beat teams like Arizona State back-to-back,” Roditi said. “We learned our lesson against Oklahoma State; we beat them twice and then we lost. It’s just hard. If you’re going to make a run, you have to win these matches.”

Up Next:

The Frogs take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs on the road in the super regionals, with the winner advancing to Orlando, Florida, for the remainder of the tournament.

The match will take place Saturday, May 11.