Ducks tennis defeats Memphis, advance to regional final
For the second time in as many seasons, the Ducks earned an NCAA Tournament win, topping Memphis 4-2. Oregon will face Texas A&M on Saturday in the College Station Regional final, with the winner advancing to Georgia for the Sweet 16.
No. 24 Oregon (19-6) started off its tournament run on a strong note, taking the doubles point to grab the early 1-0 lead.
Simon Stevens and Akihiro Tanaka lost their match 6-3 to put the Ducks in an early hole. Needing both remaining matches to go their way to earn the lone doubles point, the Ducks top two pairs delivered. Jayson Amos and Armando Soemarno evened the score with a 6-3 win of their own, before Thomas Laurent and Cormac Clissold clinched the doubles point with a 6-4 win on court 2.
No. 34 Memphis (15-9) came flying out of the gates in singles, claiming first-set wins in four of the six matches. The Tigers tied the match 1-1 when the Ducks Ethan Young-Smith – who replaced Ty Gentry in the No. 6 spot before the start of singles – fell to Matt Story, 6-4, 6-3.
After nearly getting swept in the first set, Cormac Clissold earned a 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Jan Pallares to put the Ducks up 2-1, a lead they would not give up the rest of the match.
No. 27-ranked singles player Thomas Laurent, as he has done all season, came through for the Ducks with a 7-5, 6-4 win over the Tigers No. 82-ranked Ryan Peniston. With the win, Laurent becomes the first player in program history to win 30 matches in a season.
Needing one more win on singles to clinch the match, the Ducks’ Simon Stevens topped No. 98-ranked Andrew Watson, winning in three sets, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
With the win, the Ducks match their mark from last season, in which they earned their first ever NCAA Tournament win over Tulane before being eliminated by Oklahoma the following day.
A win on Saturday against No. 12 Texas A&M in the College Station Regional final would advance the Ducks to the Round of 16 for the first time in program history. It will be a tall task for Oregon. The Aggies — who swept Buffalo 4-0 following the Ducks win — are the regional’s host and will have their home crowd behind them at the George P Mitchell Tennis Center.
The Ducks know what’s at stake — a win on Saturday would be the biggest in program history and punctuate their record-filled 2017 season.
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich
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