No. 8 USC Stalls Out No. 9 Stanford 4-2 For Quarterfinal Slot
May 14, 2009
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS - The No. 8 seeded USC men's tennis team gutted out a tight match against fellow Pac-10 power Stanford today in the NCAA Round of 16 to push into the Trojans' third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Facing the Cardinal at Texas A&M's George P. Mitchell Tennis Center, the Trojans got ahead early and fended off No. 9 Stanford for a 4-2 victory. USC will face top-seeded Virginia in the quarterfinals on Saturday (May 16) at 12 p.m. CT. PLEASE NOTE: 12 P.M. CT IS EARLIER START THAN ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED
Today's quarterfinal victory for the Trojans pushes them to a 22-5 overall record in USC's third straight 20-win season. On Saturday, USC faces the same team it saw in the 2007 NCAA Quarterfinals, coming up against undefeated No. 1 Virginia. The Cavaliers got a 4-1 win over USC in the 2007 tournament.
In the Round of 15 against the Cardinal, it took a comeback surge from #8 Robert Farah to clinch a wildly competitive match for the Trojans in which all but one singles match raged into three sets. First of all, however, USC snagged a crucial advantage by claiming the doubles point. On court two, the teams traded breaks to stay at 4-4 before Stanford's #40-ranked Muller/Wire held to go up 5-4. USC's #59 tandem of Abdullah Magdas / Daniel Nguyen wrapped holds around a big break of the Cardinal to take the lead, and went on to claim an 8-6 win for the first edge in the doubles stretch. At No. 3, however, Stanford's Bruch/Kelly pulled off an 8-5 win over USC's Matt Kecki / Jaak Poldma to even things up, leaving all eyes on court one. There, #4-ranked Trojans Robet Farah / Steve Johnson had fallen behind 1-4 before the Trojans won the next three games to even things at 4-4. The teams stayed on serve down the stretch to bring up a deciding tiebreak. USC moved ahead early in the breaker and closed out the doubles point in USC's favor with a 9-8 (4) decision that brought up singles action.
Singles competition remained largely unpredictable as the match progressed. Even Jaak Poldma's straight-set win - the only such victory on the day - was a dogfight as the Trojan sophomore got a late break to win the first set and the players stayed on serve throughout the second. Poldma fell behind in the second-set tiebreaker 0-2 and then 3-4, but he regrouped with a final push for a 7-5, 7-6 (4) victory that put USC ahead 2-0. Meanwhile, the rest of the matches had stretched into three-setters. The No. 4 singles match was the first to go to a third, but Stanford caught the late edge in that one. Matt Bruch worked ahead late on USC's Abdullah Magdas and got Stanford its first point of the day with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win.
At his No. 6 position, USC freshman Daniel Nguyen saw his opponent Blake Muller take the second set, but the Trojan rallied hard in the third. Nguyen gave up just a single game in the third and lifted USC to within one win of the quarterfinals with his 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win, which was also the freshman's seventh straight singles victory. While USC held a 3-1 advantage, Stanford fought back to within one when #34 Bradley Klahn edged out USC's #53 freshman Steve Johnson 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (1) at the No. 2 position. That left three-setters still going on courts one and five, where Trojans were taking aim at comeback pushes in both matches.
At No. 1, #8 Robert Farah was the first to finish out his comeback effort, notching the junior's first crucial match-clinching win. Farah had slipped up in the first set against Stanford's #21 Alex Clayton, but responded with a 6-3 win in the second to force the deciding third. There, Farah rode an early break to victory, clinching things by holding serve to the tune of a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win that got the Trojans a 4-2 win over the Cardinal. Farah's win left USC freshman Matt Kecki's No. 5 match suspended, with the freshman gaining steam against Richard Wire with the match stopped at 5-7, 6-3, 3-3.
NCAA ROUND OF 16
NCAA NOTES & QUOTES
USC will take on top-seeded Virginia in the quarterfinals on Saturday, May 16 a 1 p.m. (CT). The Trojans and Cavaliers will meet for the first time this season and haven't met since the 2007 NCAA quarterfinals in Athens, Ga.
USC Head Coach Peter Smith
Stanford Head Coach John Whitlinger