May 23, 2006
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Freshman Andre Begemann hit a winner, then sank to his knees in front of the net as his Pepperdine teammates mobbed him.
Begemann's victory at the fourth position in singles clinched the Waves' 4-2 upset victory over previously undefeated Georgia on Tuesday night for its first ever NCAA men's tennis title.
"At match point I felt this tingling in my back," Begemann said. "I was thinking I could make history but I had to focus. I knew I wanted to make my serve and then come in for a shot. After that I was overwhelmed. It didn't really hit me. I still can't believe it."
Pepperdine (36-2) won after reaching the finals for the first time since 1986.
Begemann dropped the first set, 6-2, and rallied from a 2-4 deficit to win the second set in a tiebreaker. Begemann and Georgia's Matic Omerzel each held serve until Begemann broke to go up 5-4 in the third.
"I was down 6-2, 4-2 and I asked my assistant coach (Per Nilsson) what can I do," Begemann said. "This guy is serving unreal. I can't do anything. He told me to keep fighting and come in. So I stayed with it and kept believing in myself."
Georgia (30-1) was making its 11th trip to the finals. The Bulldogs, who had their longest winning streak since 1971 snapped, have won four titles.
The Waves avenged their only two losses during the regular season in the final two matches of the tournament. Pepperdine beat Texas in the semifinals after losing to the Longhorns last month. Georgia beat the Waves 4-0 on Feb. 20 and had been ranked first in the country ever since.
Pepperdine's Omar Altmann, at No. 6 singles, was the first to finish, winning in straight sets to give the Waves a 2-0 edge and Waves senior Ivor Lovrak followed with a clutch 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory at No. 3 singles, ending Antonio Ruiz's 16-match winning streak. Lovrak, named the Most Outstanding Performer of the tournament, lost once at the No. 3 position all year.
"I was really nervous and thought it would go away," Lovrak said. "It took me the whole set to get back. After I broke him in the second set I just kept the momentum the rest of the way."
Georgia got its first point when junior John Isner got a 7-6, 6-4 victory over Scott Doerner at No. 1 singles. Isner, the second seed in the individual tournament, extending his winning streak to 28 matches and upped his overall record to 44-2.
Bulldogs senior Colin Purcell made it 3-2 when he won a tiebreaker in the second set for a 7-5, 7-6 win at No. 5. Purcell ran his winning streak to 20 matches.
Pepperdine coach Adam Steinberg earned a Gatorade shower from his jubilant team during the awards ceremony.
"They could throw me in the Pacific Ocean right now and I wouldn't care," Steinberg said. "This is a dream come true to finally come here and win it. It means the world to us and the university."
Georgia senior Strahinja Bobusic sustained a wrist injury in a first-round win over Notre Dame and was unable to compete the rest of the tournament.
"In many ways I felt this team overachieved during the tournament," Georgia coach Manuel Diaz said. "When Strahy got hurt I thought we'd have a hard time winning another match. I don't have any regrets and the players don't. They left everything on the court. We didn't lose because we played poorly. Pepperdine are deserving champions."