Matej Vocel knew what he needed to do to inspire his teammates to keep fighting against the top-ranked Longhorns Friday night.
Vocel, a sophomore on the Oklahoma State men's tennis team, faced a tall task on Court 1 against ITA No. 8 Christian Sigsgaard, an opponent the Cowboys are extremely used to seeing from past matches with the Longhorns.
Vocel, who is ranked ITA No. 76 in singles play, knew that the match would be tough to win, but was prepared for the challenge.
“The match was up and down,” Vocel said. “Almost every game was a deciding point deuce. I just played the better balls on deciding points and that was the key to why I won the match."
Pushing top-ranked Texas to its limit, OSU could not finish off the reeling Longhorns, losing the match 4-3. OSU coach Jay Udwadia recognized a missed opportunity the Cowboys had at the end of the match.
“I thought Texas did a good job of taking that match from us at the end,” Udwadia said. “That last match on, at number three, he did a good job of really winning that match. We didn’t give him anything, they had to earn it.”
The Cowboys started the night with a competitive doubles point, with Cowboy pairings Luke Hammond/Brady Draheim and Emile Hudd/Vocel winning on their respective courts to secure OSU's first point of the match.
Senior Artur Dubinski was unable to play in his match, resulting in Cowboys Maxim Tybar, Scaglia, Hudd and Hammond to move up a court to begin singles.
The night would mark the first conference action that Brady Draheim has had this season. The Overland Park native would not disappoint, helping secure the doubles point for the Cowboys before winning a three-set thriller against Rodrigo Banzer 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 to force a decisive finish between Cowboy Mathieu Scaglia and ITA No. 73 Leonardo Telles on Court 3, where the Longhorns would clinch the match.
Draheim was happy to get the chance to play in such an important match for the Cowboys, even though the end result was not what the team hoped.
“Obviously it’s exciting,” Draheim said. “I haven’t played in a few matches and Dubinski was injured so I kind of had a role to play with the team and just gave it everything that I had. We were just a little short.”
Udwadia was confident that Draheim could do the job even after he became aware Dubinski wouldn't be able to play.
“It’s an easy decision when someone is not feeling well,” Udwadia said. “Artur is one of the better players in the country, so if he can play, he’s going to play. But we also have confidence in all seven players. And as you see, Brady went out there and did his part for the team. He has won some big matches for us in the past, and it’s no surprise that he comes up big today. He’s been playing great in practice and I was comfortable putting him in there whether Artur was healthy or not.”
OSU will get a chance to bounce back this weekend. The Cowboys host No. 10 TCU at Greenwood Tennis Center Sunday at 1 p.m.