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OU women's tennis: Sooners defeat Arizona State in NCAA Regional championship, advance to round of 16

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Emma Staker

Freshman Emma Staker during the match against Bryant University in the first round of NCAA women's tennis regionals on May 6.

No. 2 Oklahoma (29-2) narrowly defeated No. 17 Arizona State (17-8) 4-3 in an NCAA Regional championship on Saturday in Norman, advancing to the round of 16 in the national tournament.

The Sun Devils started with the advantage, securing the doubles point when ASU’s Sedona Gallagher and Giulia Morlet took down Sooners junior Layne Sleeth and senior Alexandra Pisareva 6-3. This was followed by a dominating 6-4 win by ASU’s Marianna Argyrokastriti and Cali Jankowski over OU sophomore Dana Guzman and freshman Emma Staker.

Oklahoma’s No. 10-ranked sister duo of Ivana and Carmen Corley saw their match left unfinished against Arizona State’s No. 28-ranked doubles tandem of Patricija Spaka and Domenika Turkovic but were leading 6-5 at the conclusion of the doubles.

ASU’s Jankowski also toppled OU’s Guzman, with a pair of 6-3 scores to open the singles portion of the match with a 2-0 Sun Devil lead.

“We needed to step up and bring more energy and competence and get to work,” head coach Audra Cohen said about the early deficit. “The message I was trying to send is to keep working and stop focusing on the things that are wrong, but rather on what you can do to get better here.”

Oklahoma responded, as three Sooners jumped ahead to suddenly flip the script on the entire match. No. 97-ranked Carmen ended a tiebreaker to put OU on the board with a 6-3 and 7-5 win over No. 102-ranked Turkovic. This was followed by Staker, who tied the match with a 6-4 and 6-2 victory over ASU’s Argyrokrastriti.

The Sooners were still not finished, as Ivana also ended a tiebreaker with a 6-4 and a 7-6 (2) win over the Sun Devils’ Gallagher, pushing the Sooners ahead by one.

“I just feel like our team keeps on doing it over and over again,” Ivana said. “So it’s really special.”

The Sun Devils did manage to tie the match again as Arizona State’s Spaka defeated Pisareva, 6-4 and 7-6.

That meant the contest came down to court one, with OU’s No. 10-ranked Sleeth pitted against ASU’s No. 79-ranked Morlet. After a timeout for Sleeth to get new shoes and a word from Cohen, she took down Morlet, 6-4 and 6-3, to secure the regional championship. 

Now, after making program history, the Sooners will look to achieve more when they host the round of 16 next week.

“This team has a big goal of theirs to create history and to leave their legacy and develop a new standard for Oklahoma tennis,” Cohen said. “They’ve done that from the start of the season in January to right now and it’s pretty cool to be a part of that process.”

Cohen also just received the Big 12 Coach of the Year award on April 28 after leading OU to becoming ITA Indoors runners-up and Big 12 runners-up. Next, the Sooners will host the NCAA Super Regionals against No. 15 Stanford from May 13-14 in Norman.

“We made it this far and we aren’t done yet,” Sleeth said.

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