No. 7 Trojans Break The Bruins To Win Pac-12 Tournament Championship|
April 29, 2017
OJAI, CALIF. -- The No. 7 USC men's tennis team won its third Pac-12 Tournament Championship in epic fashion tonight in Ojai, getting one final break right when it mattered as freshman Brandon Holt emerged with a match-clinching three-set victory on court one to claim the conference crown for the Trojans over rival UCLA. The intense rivalry win improves USC to 25-5 overall and avenges last week's regular-season loss to the No. 5 Bruins. The Trojans now await the unveiling of the 2017 NCAA Championship bracket on Tuesday (May 2) to see their seeding for the tourney.
"It was a very special environment that the Ojai tournament and our rival UCLA provided, and the match did not disappoint," USC head coach Peter Smith said. "We fought like Trojans. The scoreline doesn't say it but today was a complete and total team victory - each and every one of the guys provided a platform for their teammates to shine. I'm very proud of the environment we created. Each day throughout the tournament a different Trojan stepped up and today was no different. Brandon didn't act like a freshman today - he was as cool as the other side of the pillow. He came through when it mattered the most, which is a very difficult thing to do. He won a "real barnburner" for us to win this conference title. It's a really special night for the team."
The doubles point offered a taste of what was to come. Competition went down to the wire to decide the first point of the match, and it was the Trojans who came away with the clutch finish to grab the crucial 1-0 advantage. USC's power couple on court three did what they do best, securing yet another win -- the 12th in a row for senior Rob Bellamy and sophomore Jack Jaede -- to get the Trojans some early momentum. Bellamy and Jaede ripped through to a 6-2 win over UCLA's Cressy/Goldberg for a key boost. At the top spot, the Bruins fired back when #7 Redlicki/Zhu managed a 7-5 win over USC's #11 Brandon Holt and Riley Smith. That left it up to court two to decide, and USC's Nick Crystal and Laurens Verboven proved up to the task. Crystal/Verboven dug in during the deciding tiebreaker, creating some space and finishing it off with a 7-6 (2) win over UCLA's Rapp/Di Giulio, and USC had an all-important 1-0 lead on the board in Ojai.
In singles, the Bruins got an early point on the board for themselves when #56 Martin Redlicki posted a 6-2, 6-3 win over USC senior Nick Crystal on court two. On court three, though, USC's #82 Logan Smith was ready to pounce, as the sophomore drummed up a 7-5, 6-1 win over Evan Zhu to push the Trojans back ahead 2-1. At the No. 5 spot, junior Thibault Forget got the Trojans a little padding to work with, maneuvering USC into striking distance with a 3-1 lead on Forget's 6-2, 7-5 win over Joseph Di Giulio. The Bruins would not back down, however. On court six, Maxine Cressy was able to snap USC freshman Riley Smith's 14-match win streak with a 7-6 (2), 6-4 decision that cut the Trojan lead down to 3-2. Then, UCLA leveled things with a three-set comeback on court four. There, Logan Staggs fought out of a first-set hole against USC's Jack Jaede and went on to deliver a 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 win that snarled up the match at 3-3. At that point, both teams' top guns were in a shootout on court one. USC's #23 freshman Brandon Holt and UCLA's #22 Gage Brymer were tangled up and holding serve in the third set to decide the match. Holt's fifth hold of the set got him up 5-4 to face Brymer's serve next. That's where the USC freshman made his move and came through with a huge and deciding break of Brymer to lock in the win for the Trojans. Holt's 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 win over Brymer was the championship clincher, and the Trojan celebration ensued immediately on the courts of Libbey Park in Ojai.
2017 PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS (Libbey Park | Ojai, Calif.)