May 22, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO -
In one of the most exciting tennis matches in program history, one that lasted five hours and 37 minutes, Baylor's men's tennis team came from behind and defeated Stanford, 4-3, to advance to the NCAA Championship semifinals.
This marks Baylor's third consecutive semifinal appearance. They will take on top-seeded Georgia, a 4-0 winner over Virginia, at 7 p.m. CDT on Monday at the Taube Tennis Center in Palo Alto. Texas and Pepperdine will face off in the other semifinal at 4 p.m. CDT. The semifinals consists of the top four teams in the Fila/ITA rankings: No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Pepperdine, No. 3 Texas and No. 4 Baylor.
Due to rain all day Sunday in Palo Alto, all the men's matches were moved to the indoor courts at the San Francisco Tennis Club. The Baylor-Stanford match was originally set to begin at 3 p.m. but was delayed until 6 p.m. with the move to the indoor courts. Using three courts for the match, doubles was contested first then the top three singles spots went on the court followed by four, five and six.
Doubles competition gave fans a glimpse of what was to come as all three courts were very close. On court three, Will Ward and David Galic gutted out a 9-7 win over Jon Wong and James Wan to walk off the court first. Stanford would even the doubles with a win at No. 2 when Blake Muller and Matt Bruch defeated Matt Brown and Matija Zgaga in a tie breaker 9-8 (3). Baylor clinched the doubles point when 23rd-ranked Lars Poerschke and Michal Kokta downed the 16th-ranked doubles duo of KC Corkery and James Pade, 8-6. Poerschke and Kokta broke Stanford's serve in the 11th game then held their serves to close out the doubles point.
With the top three singles spots on the courts, Stanford evened the score at 1-1 when the 16th-ranked Bruch downed Zgaga 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2. Despite winning the first sets on both courts one and three, Baylor fell behind when Poerschke and Kokta each lost the next two sets at No. 1 and 3, respectively. The 29th-ranked Kokta won his first set 6-4 but Pade countered with a 6-3 second-set win. Kokta looked to have the match secured in the final set when he held a 4-1 lead but Pade stormed back and evened it at 4-4 then went on to win in a tiebreaker 7-6(4).
Meanwhile on court one, Poerschke, ranked No. 4, won the first set 6-2 but the 25th-ranked Corkery bounced back and downed Poerschke 7-5 and 6-4 to give Stanford a 3-1 lead. The loss halted Poerschke's 15-match win streak.
After Zgaga's match was completed, Ward and Wan, playing at No. 4, began their match which would prove to be a marathon. In fact, their match took so long, Vladimir Portnov and Stanford's Phil Kao started after Ward and Wan but finished before them. Portnov posted a straight-sets win over Kao on court six, 6-4, 6-3, to make the score 3-2 Stanford.
To start their match, Ward posted a 6-2 first set win over Wan but the 66th-ranked Wan countered with a 6-1 second-set victory. With Stanford needing just one point to claim victory, things looked bleak for the Bears as Ward fell behind in the third set 3-1. However, the gutsy rookie won four straight games to take a 5-3 lead. Wan won two straight to even it a 5-5. During the 10th game of the third set, Ward took an injury timeout due to severe leg cramps. After the 10th game, Wan took an injury tiemout for the same reason. After resuming action, each player held serve to knot the score at 6-6. In the tiebreaker, Ward took a 3-0 lead and never let Wan get close, closing out the match with a 7-3 tiebreak score.
With Ward's win, the match was then tied at 3-3 and only one duo still on the court, Baylor freshman Matt Brown and Stanford's Blake Muller on court six. Brown had won the first set 7-6(3) but Muller rebounded with a 6-1 second-set triumph. When the Ward/Wan match ended, Brown was down 2-1. The rookie then reeled off three straight games to take a 4-2 lead. Muller won the next game to close the gap a little but Brown slammed the door on Muller and Stanford by winning the final to games to claim a 6-3 third-set victory. It was Brown's second straight match clinching win.
"This is one of the greatest matches I've ever been a part of," said head coach Matt Knoll. "The guys that hadn't been very consistent for us really stepped it up tonight. Our more experienced guys (top three spots in the lineup) have to produce for us to have a chance tomorrow," he added.
Baylor's record now stands at 25-6 while 13th-ranked Stanford sees its season end at 18-4.
#4 Baylor 4, #13 Stanford 3
Order of finish: 3, 2, 1
1. #23 Kokta/Poerschke (BU) def. #16 Corkery/Pade (S) 8-6
2. Muller/Bruch (S) def. Brown/Zgaga (BU) 9-7(3)
3. David Galic/Ward (BU) def. James Wong/Wan (S) 9-7
Order of finish: 2, 3, 1, 6, 4, 5
1. #25 KC Corkery (S) def. #4 Lars Poerschke (BU) 2-6, 7-5, 6-4
2. #16 Matt Bruch (S) def. #65 Matija Zgaga (BU) 6-2, 6-3
3. James Pade (S) def. #29 Michal Kokta (BU) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4)
4. Will Ward (BU) def. #66 James Wan (S) 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(3)
5. #124 Matt Brown (BU) def. Blake Muller (S) 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-3
6. Vladimir Portnov (BU) def. Phil Kao (S) 6-4, 6-3