No. 1 USC Shoves Through To ITA National Team Indoor Title Match|
Feb. 15, 2015
CHICAGO, ILL. -- The No. 1 USC men's tennis team are lined up for another championship bout against Oklahoma after snagged a 4-1 comeback win over Georgia today in the semifinals at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago. The No. 4 Bulldogs grabbed the doubles point, only to see the Trojans fire off four straight-set singles wins to steal away a 4-1 win and punch a title to the title match for the fourth straight year. Now 9-0 on the year, USC will do battle with Oklahoma in tomorrow's final at 11 a.m. CT. Last year in the NCAA Championship, USC won it all for the fifth time in six years with a 4-2 win over the Sooners in Athens, Ga.
"You're talking about two of the premier programs in the country," USC head coach Peter Smith said of the day's matchup between USC and Georgia. "The tradition and history of both Georgia and USC is pretty high. They bring it. Georgia has a great program and we've been lucky to have a great program for the last few years and it's a pleasure."
Up against Georgia for the second time in two weeks -- having won 4-0 in a trip to Athens to start the month -- the Trojans stumbled out of the gates in this rematch. The Bulldogs kicked out to a quick win on court three and then managed an upset on court one of USC's #1 Hanfmann/Quiroz to jump out to a 1-0 lead on the Trojans.
Righting the ship for the Trojans once again was senior Eric Johnson, who ripped his way through to a smooth 6-1, 6-1 win over Nick Wood on court four to pull USC even at 1-1. And after having their previous singles matches suspended in USC's victorious first few rounds of the tournament, sophomores Nick Crystal and Max de Vroome were eager to pounce. From his No. 6 spot, #49 Nick Crystal hauled the Trojans into the lead with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Paul Oosterbaan. From court five, Max de Vroome struck next. He'd whip up a 7-6, 6-1 win over Ben Wagland, and the Trojans were gripping a 3-1 lead on the Bulldogs. The clincher on this day was senior Roberto Quiroz. The #24 Quiroz jammed up UGA's #21 Austin Smith on court two with a 7-6 (2), 6-3 victory that clamped down on a 4-1 USC victory and suspended play on the remaining courts.
"I think why coaches coach is to see growth. To see the growth in Roberto from a freshman to a senior is so big. Now he's such a leader for us. We're just really fortunate that he's there in that situation. He's been there before. He's very confident and we're very confident in him," Smith said. "I'm so proud of four, five and six. They played as good of tennis as I've seen all year. We got up and kept the leads. Nick is a sophomore and it's really his first time in these type of matches. Max is another guy, when you've served out an NCAA Championship... he's comfortable in that situation and we're comfortable with him.
"This early in the season, we're just excited to play the best programs. I hope it's a great match tomorrow. I hope they play great and I hope we play great."
ITA NATIONAL TEAM INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS (Chicago, Ill.)