USC Men Edged In NCAA Quarterfinals
May 18, 2008
TULSA, OKLA. - The USC men's tennis team was entrenched in another all-out battle in NCAA competition on Sunday, coming up short of a bid to the NCAA Semifinals with a 4-2 loss to crosstown rival UCLA in the semifinals in Tulsa, Okla. The rivals clashed for the third time this season -- this time meeting up halfway across the country at Tulsa's Michael D. Case Tennis Center for round three of the 2008 season. In an unpredictable match down to the wire, the Bruins came away with the win, leaving USC with a 22-5 overall record for the year.
It was USC's second consecutive trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals in the Trojans' 30th overall NCAA appearance, giving USC a 62-29 all-time record in NCAA Tournament play. Three Trojans will remain in Tulsa awaiting their spots in the NCAA Individual Championships, running May 21-26. Senior Kaes Van't Hof is joined by sixth-seeded sophomore Robert Farah and freshman Jaak Poldma for the NCAA Singles action. Farah and Van't Hof -- owners of a 21-match doubles win streak, are the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Doubles competition.
Against the Bruins in Sunday's NCAA Quarterfinals, USC fell behind with a loss in doubles play and worked back to tie things 1-1 and 2-2 in singles with straight-set wins from Abdullah Magdas at the No. 5 position and Jaak Poldma at the No. 3 spot. But the Bruins were able to get important wins at the top two singles slots to clinch the UCLA win. With his victory at No. 5, Magdas completes a perfect run through NCAA dual match play, going 4-0 during NCAA action to finish his first year of competition at USC with a 24-8 overall record. Poldma closes out his first season at Troy with a formidable record in dual match play, going 22-1 in dual match singles to take a 34-6 overall record into the upcoming NCAA Singles Championships.
"The doubles I really thought decided it again," USC head coach Peter Smith said. "Hats off to them, they handled the doubles situation better than us. You've got to believe in the end, that was the difference once again. Frustrating to lose to them three times, but maybe more frustrating to lose the doubles point to them three times.
"We fought so hard. I really challenged them after doubles and they responded. We were playing from behind the whole way, but we gave ourselves a chance, but, in the end they were too good."
Doubles play went the Bruins' way despite a strong effort from No. 2-ranked Trojans Robert Farah and Kaes Van't Hof. The USC pair came back from a 1-4 hole, breaking the Bruins twice while wielding a solid service game en route to an 8-6 win for the Trojan pair's 21st straight doubles victory. At No. 3, the Trojans and the Bruins were on serve until UCLA got up a break at 5-4 and held that advantage for an 8-6 UCLA win that evened things 1-1 in doubles play. That brought the deciding factor to the No. 2 match, where UCLA managed to pull out of a 1-4 deficit and go up 4-5 after breaking USC twice. One last break by the Bruins captured the doubles point for UCLA with an 8-5 win to bring up singles play.
Abdullah Magdas opened up singles play with a decisive win at his No. 5 spot, taking down Jeremy Drean 6-4, 6-3 to lock things up 1-1. At No. 6, however, UCLA's Nick Meister beat USC's Andrew Piotrowski -- who had served up match-clinching wins for the Trojans in the previous two NCAA matches -- with a 6-4, 6-4 decision to lift UCLA up 2-1. USC freshman Jaak Poldma edged out Mathieu Dehaine in a tiebreaker to win the first set and went on to break Dehaine three times in the second set on the way to a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win to get the match score to 2-2.
At the No. 4 match, USC's Gary Sacks was working his way toward a comeback after falling in the first set to UCLA's Michael Look, but there was a momentum shift taking place across the way on the No. 1 and No. 2 courts. At the No. 2 position, a late break left USC senior Kaes Van't Hof down in the first set. A battle ensued in the second, coming down to a tiebreaker between the Trojan senior and UCLA's Holden Seguso. In a see-saw battle during the tiebreak, the Bruin moved ahead and was able to snap Van't Hof's 19-match singles win streak with a final score of 7-5, 7-6 (5) to put UCLA ahead 3-2 in the match. While Sacks moved within reach of tallying a third point for the Trojans, UCLA's Harel Srugo went up a late break on Robert Farah and captured victory for the Bruins with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 decision that pushes UCLA into the semifinals against Texas.