Ducks look to make some noise in upcoming Pac-12 Championships
With the Pac-12 Championships right around the corner, the Ducks still had one match left in their record-setting regular season — Washington.
Because Oregon State doesn’t sponsor a tennis program, the Huskies are Oregon’s top rival in the Pacific Northwest.
After waiting through an 80-minute rain delay to begin action, the Ducks went to work, defeating Washington 4-2 in a thriller. After grabbing the early doubles point, Thomas Laurent and Jayson Amos put the Ducks within one point of the win, but then Washington began to rally. Simon Stevens and Akihiro Tanaka each dropped their respective matches to cut the lead to 3-2, and Ty Gentry lost his commanding lead in the No. 6 spot to put his match in jeopardy.
However, Cormac Clissold pulled out the win on court five in three sets to solidify a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Championships.
Although the team finished just 4-3 in conference play, the No. 4-seeded Ducks head to Ojai, California, looking to compete.
“We’ve showed all season that we can play with anyone in the conference and anyone in the country,” head coach Nils Schyllander said following the match.
What lies ahead in the Pac-12 Championship?
— Oregon Men's Tennis (@OregonMTennis) April 24, 2017
Saturday’s win over Washington was necessary for the Ducks in clinching a first round bye. Rather than beginning play on Wednesday, the Ducks will get an extra day of rest before opening action on Thursday.
They’ll play the winner of Stanford-Arizona — two teams Oregon saw in last season’s Pac-12 Championships.
The Ducks should feel confident either way after beating both programs in conference play in 2017. On paper, Arizona is the better matchup — the Ducks took care of the Wildcats earlier this season in Tucson, winning 4-1.
And Oregon took Stanford to the wire and won, 4-3, on April 16.
NCAA Tournament implications
No matter the outcome in the Pac-12 Championships, the Ducks (18-5, 4-3 Pac-12) have easily clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament in May.
However, a strong performance in Ojai would undoubtedly vault Oregon up the ITA rankings and into a more favorable seed for a deep run in the tournament.
If the Ducks finish the tournament ranked in the top 16 teams nationally, they will have the opportunity to host their first round match up.
What they’re saying before heading to Ojai
“We’re going down there with high hopes. … We just have to keep playing hard and great things will happen for us.” — head coach Nils Schyllander
“We know we’re good. We know [our competition] is good. It’s going to come down to a couple of shots. … We’re going to be ready to go.” — Schyllander.
“There’s [no team] that I would say we need to stay away from in playoff competition. Our confidence is very high. We know what we have to do as a group.” – Jayson Amos
“UCLA won the Pac-12 regular season conference. We lost 4-3 at their home courts. … I would love to play them again. We know the potential we have.” — Amos.
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich
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