WACO, Texas (AP) — Virginia's Mitchell Frank has played the deciding match for a national championship before, and with much more urgency than the Cavaliers faced in pursuit of their second NCAA men's team tennis title.
The senior came through again, finishing off a 4-1 victory Tuesday that wrapped up a second crown in three years and denied top-seeded Oklahoma its first championship.
"I can't tell you how much I'm going to miss this guy," Virginia coach Brian Boland said after Frank beat Oklahoma's Andrew Harris 7-5, 7-5. "I said the last time we won the national championship. If there's one player that I'd love to have on the court at the end clinching the match, it's Mitchell Frank."
Two years ago, Frank was in the final match with the team score against UCLA tied 3-3 and faced a match point before coming back to win. This time, he needed four match points to finish off Harris, falling to his knees after the sophomore from Australia hit a shot into the net to give Virginia the crown.
There was a big difference, though. The Cavaliers, who beat host Baylor in the semifinals Monday, still had two other chances to clinch playing on other courts.
"I was actually pretty relaxed given I was in that situation in a more intense situation a couple of years ago," said Frank, who ended up at the bottom of a dog pile with celebrating teammates. "It definitely forces you to zone in. I didn't feel that up and down emotionally."
The Sooners lost in the title match for the second straight year under John Roddick, the older brother of 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick.
The younger Roddick was in the stands as Oklahoma never led after losing the doubles point and dropping two of the first three singles matches.
"It's probably more disappointing this year maybe than last year," said Roddick, whose team lost to 21-time champion Southern California in 2014. "I think last year we were still trying to figure out if we were a team capable of doing this. I think it hurts more because we know we are."
The Sooners pulled even with the first point of the singles session on Spencer Papa's 6-3, 6-2 victory over Alexander Ritschard, but Virginia freshman Collin Altamirano had a straight-sets win over Oklahoma senior Dane Webb to help turn the momentum back to the Cavaliers.
Virginia won the school's first title by beating UCLA in 2013 after several top-seeded teams lost in previous years. And now Oklahoma is waiting for the breakthrough.
"The first one is always the toughest," Boland said. "And it's true in tournaments and everything else, just kind of getting over the hump. I think we were a little bit more free this time."