No. 1 Seeded Kudrnac Avoids Upset
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) _ Oklahoma State’s Pavel Kudrnac is good. He’s also fortunate.
Kudrnac, the No. 1 seed, came within two points of becoming only the third top seed to lose in the opening round of the NCAA men’s tennis tournament.
The native of the Czech Republic barely escaped with a victory Wednesday, holding off Texas Churistian’s Esteban Carril 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.
``I was lucky today,″ said Kudrnac, a senior. ``I thought this might be the end.″
He came the closest of the top eight seeds who advanced to the second round in the 64-player, single-elimination tournament. It was the first time since 1993 all of the top eight seeds advanced.
After Kudrnac lost the first set, he fell behind 4-0 in the second set and trailed 5-4 and was two points from being upset when he rallied to tie the second set and win the tiebreaker 7-5.
Michigan’s Malavai Washington in 1989 and UCLA’s Justin Gimelstob in 1996 were the only No. 1 seeds to lose in the first round.
Players grouped in seeds 9-16 weren’t as fortunate. Auburn’s Lee Pearson lost to Southern Cal’s George Bastl, 6-2, 6-2. Bastl, ranked No. 28 coming into the tournament, advanced to the 1997 final and finished as runnerup to UNLV’s Luke Smith.
Mississippi State’s Simon Larose, also seeded 9-16, was upset by Yale’s Jonathon Beardsley, 6-1, 6-4.
The 32-team doubles tournament opens today with Kudrnac and Martin Dvorcek as the top seed. The singles tournament continues with second round play. A player must win six matches in four days to claim the national championship.