No. 7 USC Men Earn A Rivalry Rematch With UCLA To Decide Pac-12 Tourney Title

    April 28, 2017

    OJAI, CALIF. — The No. 7 USC men’s tennis team cleaned up another strong win out in Ojai with a 4-1 victory over No. 10 California today in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. The No. 3 seeded Trojans picked up the first three points of the match before the No. 2 seeded Golden Bears got a point on the board, but then senior Nick Crystal stepped in for the USC cause and claimed the clincher from court two. Now 24-3 overall, USC turns to vie for the tournament title tomorrow. The Trojans will face top-seeded rival UCLA for the Pac-12 Championship at 6 p.m. on Saturday (April 29) at Libbey Park in Ojai, Calif. The title match will be televised live on Pac-12 Network with J.B. Long and Justin Gimelstob on the call.

    The Trojans had to scrape out a tight doubles point to get the early advantage in this one. Cal put the pressure on USC by snagging the opening win on a 6-2 decision in favor of #74 Goransson/Griffith over USC’s #80 Nick Crystal and Laurens Verboven on court two. Jumping into action next was USC’s top guns, #11-ranked freshmen Brandon Holt and Riley Smith on court one. The Trojan tandem topped Cal’s #4 Bergevi/Lakat with a 6-3 victory that put the doubles point decider on court three. There, USC’s Rob Bellamy and Jack Jaede stayed in winning form, punching up their 11th consecutive win and securing a 1-0 lead for the Trojans with a 7-5 victory over Cal’s Hoffman/Nishimura. 

    In doubles, another Trojan win streak was extended as freshman Riley Smith drummed up his 14th straight singles win on a swift 6-3, 6-1 victory over Cal’s Bjorn Hoffman on court six. Up 2-0 on Smith’s win, USC’s Jack Jaede jumped on the opportunity to move his Trojans farther ahead. The Aussie would tally a 6-4, 6-1 win over Cal’s #88 Billy Griffith at the No. 4 slot, and USC held a 3-0 lead on the Bears. Cal would fire back with a 6-4, 6-2 win from Filip Bergevi over USC’s #82 Logan Smith on court three to make it a 3-1 margin, but that wasn’t near enough to deter senior Nick Crystal from coming through with the clincher for his Trojans. On court two, Crystal served up a 7-6, 6-2 upset of Cal’s #60 Andre Goransson to lock in the 4-1 lead and the win for USC.

    USC now gets a rematch against rival UCLA in tomorrow’s Pac-12 title match. The Trojans and the Bruins have faced three times already this season, with UCLA claiming two wins and USC one. The Bruins won the last encounter in a 4-1 decision in Westwood last week. USC will be looking to claim a third Pac-12 Tournament Championship for the program, which also claimed the tourney title in 2012 and 2015. 

    2017 PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS (Libbey Park | Ojai, Calif.)

    SEMIFINALS
    #7 USC 4, #10 California 1
    April 28, 2017 | Libbey Park (Ojai, Calif.)
    DOUBLES
    (1) #11 Holt/R. Smith (USC) def. #4 Bergevi/Lakat (CAL) - 6-3
    (2) #74 Goransson/Griffith (CAL) def. #80 Crystal/Verboven (USC) - 6-2
    (3) Bellamy/Jaede (USC) def. Hoffman/Nishimura (CAL) - 7-5
    USC wins doubles point.
    Order of finish: 2, 1, 3
    SINGLES
    (1) #23 Brandon Holt (USC) vs. #12 Florian Lakat (CAL) - susp.
    (2) Nick Crystal (USC) def. #60 Andre Goransson (CAL) - 7-6, 6-2*
    (3) Filip Bergevi (CAL) def. #82 Logan Smith (USC) - 6-4, 6-2
    (4) Jack Jaede (USC) def. #88 Billy Griffith (CAL) - 6-4, 6-1
    (5) Thibault Forget (USC) vs. J.T. Nishimura (CAL) - susp.
    (6) Riley Smith (USC) def. Bjorn Hoffman (CAL) - 6-3, 6-1
    Order of finish: 6, 4, 3, 2*