Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor
Not only did the USC men's tennis team capture its fifth NCAA title in the last six years by defeating the No. 2 ranked Oklahoma Sooners, but the legendary program will also go down in history as the team that clinched USC's 100th NCAA title. Appropriately, the program which has won 21 percent of Troy's NCAA titles was the one to seal the deal in what is now a century of wins for the university.
Like any legendary match, the Trojans did not earn number 100 easily. USC started slowly in all three doubles matches as the Sooners took the doubles point giving them the early 1-0 lead. Thus, the Trojans would have to rally during singles play and pull out four victories - a feat they have done in two of their last four titles.
However, Oklahoma continued to spoil the Trojans' pursuit of another title by taking the first singles match in dominant fashion (6-1, 6-2) between USC's Roberto Quiroz and Oklahoma's Dane Smith. With the Sooners up an early 2-0 lead, the Trojans relied on experience to get them back into the match with two clutch performances from junior Yannick Hanfmann and senior Ray Sarmiento. Hanfmann never seemed phased by the fifth-ranked Guillermo Alcorta as he handled him in straight sets (7-5, 6-2). While over on court two, Sarmiento magically pulled out a two-set victory [6-4, 7-6 (4)] despite several moments where it looked like this match could be headed for a decisive third set.
With the score now 2-2, the crowd flocked to the lower courts where the match would be decided. Eric Johnson, who has been a rock for the Trojans at the number five position all tournament, cranked out another two-set victory [6-1, 7-6 (2)] to give the Trojans the slight edge. Meanwhile, courts four and six were exhibiting legendary tennis as sophomore Max de Vroome and senior Michael Grant battled to see who was going to clinch the title for the Trojans. De Vroome, appearing in his first NCAA final, was up a break 4-3 in the third set and had managed a 40-love lead in his service game before Andrew Harris rallied to break de Vroome and tie things up at four apiece. De Vroome swiftly broke Harris allowing him the chance to serve for the championship which he did with an emphatic volley to clinch the 100th NCAA title for the university and the nation-best 21st title for the men's tennis program.
USC men's tennis now has 21 national titles under its belt which is second only to USC men's track and field which has racked up 26 NCAA titles since 1926. Though the Trojans have finally clinched number 100, the USC men and women's golf teams along with women's rowing and men and women's track and field are still competing for NCAA titles hoping to add the first title on the road to 200.
Here is the post-match presser from the 2014 NCAA Men's Tennis Championship...