USC Men Edged Out By Ohio State In NCAA Quarterfinal|
May 18, 2013
Urbana, Ill. -- The No. 4 seeded USC men's tennis team had its hopes of a fifth consecutive national championship upended by No. 5 seed Ohio State in a gut-wrenching quarterfinal bout that saw the Buckeyes pull out a 4-3 win today in Urbana, Ill. In a rematch of the 2009 NCAA title match -- which sparked the Trojans' run to four in a row -- USC faced a hard-hitting Ohio State squad that was able to fend off match point in the doubles point decider and win the tiebreaker to take the first advantage of the match. USC had come back from losing the doubles point in the Round of 16, but the Buckeyes dug in and were able to net the three necessary singles wins, snagging the victory in the last match on at court two. The 4-3 loss snapped a streak of 27 consecutive NCAA tournament match wins by the Trojans, who finish 2013 with a 26-5 overall record.
"Congratulations to Ty Tucker and his team," USC head coach Peter Smith said. "They played a great match and deserved this win."
It was a high-intensity finish in the doubles point decider as the last two matches both stretched into tiebreakers. USC's #37 Hanfmann/Sarmiento had fallen on court one with an 8-3 decision that went the way of #12 Buckeyes Kobelt/Smith. That was a relatively early exit considering the remaining matches were stretching into tight finishes. On court three, USC's de Vroome/Johnson were locked up down the stretch against Callahan/Rola. Still even at 8-8, the match went to a breaker, where the Trojans took control early with a 4-0 start that gave them momentum for the win on a 9-8 (3) victory that locked things up in the doubles realm. At the No. 2 spot, meanwhile, USC's undefeated Gomez/Quiroz pushed the limits against Ohio State's #90 McCarthy/Van Engelen. The Trojan duo forced the tiebreaker with a break of the Buckeyes to bring it to 8-8. In an incredibly tight tiebreaker, USC took its first lead on an ace from Emilio Gomez to catch a 5-4 advantage. The Buckeyes would answer back, but USC got in position with match point, up 6-5 in the tiebreaker. Again, the Buckeyes fired back, getting to match point themselves, up 7-6. USC evened the score at 7-7 only to see Ohio State get the next point and hold on for the win with a 9-7 decision in the tiebreaker to win the match and the first point of the afternoon for Ohio State.
USC got on the board with a power move by #90 Eric Johnson on court five. Johnson put himself in a winning position early and kept his focus throughout his match with #104 Chris Diaz before putting away his Buckeye opponent with one last break for a 6-3, 6-3 win that got USC even 1-1. On court one, though, USC's #7 Emilio Gomez came up against a sharp-shooting #12 Blaz Rola, who was hitting winners left and right and got Ohio State back the lead with a 6-1, 6-0 decision that made it 2-1 Ohio State.
USC would fire right back. More outside smoke came for the Trojans on court six, where USC freshman Max de Vroome hammered home a 6-3, 6-1 win over Constantin Christ. At the No. 4 spot, however, USC came up short. #36 Roberto Quiroz fell in a first-set tiebreaker with #73 Devin McCarthy and was unable to recover. McCarthy took the Buckeyes ahead 3-2 with his 7-6 (1), 6-1 win over Quiroz. Over on court three, USC's #45 Yannick Hanfmann was finding his winning form late in his second set. Pushing it to a tiebreaker with #71 Connor Smith, Hanfmann locked in and reigned in the equalizer on a 7-5, 7-6 (4) finish that put the decider on court two. There, USC's #16 junior Ray Sarmiento was putting everything on the line against Ohio State's #8 giant Peter Kobelt. Sarmiento held serve throughout the match, while the heavy-hitting Kobelt did the same. That forced tiebreakers in both sets, but Kobelt was able to catch the edge. Sarmiento's gutsy work on the court was just barely overmatched by Kobelt's power, as the Buckeye managed to pull off the clincher on a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3) win that wrapped the match as a 4-3 win for Ohio State.
This was the third time in the past five NCAA Tournaments between USC and Ohio State. The Trojans upset the Buckeyes 4-1 in the 2009 NCAA Championship match and then again in the 2010 Quarterfinals.
2013 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex Urbana, Ill.)
Quarterfinals - Saturday, May 18
 Ohio State 4,  USC 3