From alternates to All-American, Wichita State juniors Murkel Dellien and Marius Frosa completed that improbable transformation Wednesday at the NCAA Doubles Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.
One week ago, the WSU pair were alternates for the championship field. It took a team to drop out just for Dellien and Frosa to receive an invitation. They have since made the most of the opportunity.
After an upset first-round win on Monday, Dellien and Frosa followed it up with a victory in a tiebreaker over Princeton’s duo of Ryan Seggerman and Payton Holden, 4-6, 6-3, 11-9, to advance to the quarterfinals and earn All-American status. The only other doubles team to do so were Roberto Saad and Paul Smith, who reached the semifinals in 1983.
“It’s pretty crazy that they are doing this as alternates,” WSU coach Danny Bryan said. “Honestly, I think they truly believed they could come here and do some damage if they played well. I don’t think there’s a feeling of we’re playing with house money. They believe they belong and they believe on any given day they can beat anybody.”
It was the second victory for the WSU duo over the same Princeton team, as Dellien and Frosa improved to 11-1 this season. They will now play the winner of Alabama’s Patrick Kaukovalta-Mazen Osama and North Carolina’s Bo Boyden-William Blumberg at 3 p.m. Friday.
After losing the first set, 6-4, Dellien and Frosa bounced back to take the first three games in the second set and cruised to a 6-3 second-set victory to set up the tiebreaker.
The WSU duo faced some adversity, falling behind 4-1 to Princeton. But Dellien and Frosa rallied back to take a 9-7 lead. Princeton fought off two match points to tie the game, 9-9, but WSU won the final two points to win the match.
“I’m super happy for them and it’s great for the program because now this can be an example for other guys who maybe aren’t at this level yet,” Bryan said. “They see these guys work and they now know these results are possible with hard work. There’s been a lot of great tennis players here at Wichita State since 1983, so this is quite an accomplishment for these guys. Hopefully we can keep it going.”