Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor
The Trojans pulled out another hard-fought victory Monday against the defending champions, the No. 4 ranked Virginia Cavaliers, which they have faced in five of the last six NCAA tournaments. The USC men's tennis team will now seek its fifth title in the last six years and the university's 100th NCAA title as the Trojans take on No. 2 Oklahoma for the first time ever in the title match at 5:00pm ET on Tuesday in Athens, Georgia.
In order to return to the familiar title match, the Trojans had to first overcome a tough battle against the Cavaliers that literally came down to a simultaneous finish. Junior Yannick Hanfmann clinched the victory for the Trojans in a dramatic three-setter seconds before senior Michael Grant rallied to secure the 5-1 victory for USC. In fact, Hanfmann won two points during Grant's extended match-point rally to clinch the victory.
The Trojans started things off on a high note by winning the doubles point as Connor Farren and Roberto Quiroz held strong with an 8-5 victory, while the other two pairs battled through tough tiebreakers with Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson edging out a victory giving USC the early 1-0 lead.
During singles action, Hanfmann ground out another exhausting victory from the No. 1 position bouncing back after losing the first set to No. 6 ranked Alex Domijan and fighting to stay alive during the epic second set tiebreak before clinching the victory for the Trojans in the third (4-6, 7-6 (10), 6-4).
Hanfmann's doubles partner Ray Sarmiento may not have had the most dramatic match since he won in straight sets (6-1, 6-4), but the senior defeated the No. 4 ranked player in the country in Mitchell Frank. At one point in the second set, Sarmiento was down 3-5 facing set point before he rallied to secure a victory, drastically shifting the momentum in the Trojans' favor.
The Trojans will now seek their nation-best 21st national championship on Tuesday at 5:00pm ET against the No. 2 ranked Oklahoma Sooners at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Georgia.
Here is head coach Peter Smith and clincher Yannick Hanfmann after the match...