Defending NCAA Champs Silence Duke In Move To NCAA Quarterfinals|
May 14, 2015
WACO, TEXAS -- The No. 7 seeded USC men's tennis team showed its NCAA savvy with a power move to victory over No. 10 seed Duke in today's NCAA Round of 16. The defending national champs pinned up a 4-0 sweep of the Blue Devils to punch a ticket to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the ninth consecutive season. Now 25-4 overall, USC will face No. 2 seeded host Baylor in the Quarterfinals at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday (May 16) at Hurd Tennis Center in Waco, Texas.
USC clinched the doubles point by heaping pressure on the Blue Devils. While Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz climbed out in front of Duke's Alvarez/Hemmeler on court one, the other two courts were tighter battles as those Trojans worked to come from behind. Hanfmann/Quiroz would pin up a solid 8-3 win at the No. 1 spot, leaving the remaining matches hanging in the balance. On court three, USC's Nick Crystal and Thibault Forget had fallen behind 6-3, while USC's Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson were battling on serve on court two. Both Trojan duo snagged key breaks at the same time, sparking a momentum shift in USC's favor. Holds from Crystal and Forget wrapped around that break tugged the Trojans to a 6-6 lockup with Duke's Pura/Semenzato at the No. 3 spot. Meanwhile, de Vroome/Johnson had edged out ahead of Duke's Levine/Tahir 5-4 and would stay the course to victory, coming up with the clincher on an 8-5 win at the No. 2 spot. That locked in USC with the 1-0 lead and suspended court three's match with the Trojans leading 7-6.
That pushed the match into singles action, where USC's seniors set the tone with a sprint to steal the first sets down the line. On court one, #15 Yannick Hanfmann was a machine, drilling Duke's #13 Nicolas Alvarez by taking the first court games and then pinning up a 6-1 victory in the first set. Fellow senior #25 Roberto Quiroz followed suit, zipping out to a 6-1 advantage over #41 Jason Tahir on court two. Similarly strong, #45 senior Jonny Wang whipped up a 6-2 first-set win before #85 senior Eric Johnson delivered a 6-2 win from his No. 3 singles slot. Feeding off of that momentum, USC #94 junior Max de Vroome came through next with a first-set victory on court five, and then #61 sophomore Nick Crystal turned the tide on court six in winning four straight games to come from behind and take his first set 7-5.
Hanfmann would stay on cruise control on court one. The senior registered USC's second point of the match with a swift 6-1, 6-1 win over Duke's #13 Alvarez. Later, the Trojans were in position to ice the win, posed for victory on three courts at the same time. At the No. 5 spot, #94 de Vroome finished off Duke's Mengel with one final booming serve to lock in a 3-0 lead for the Trojans on his 6-3, 6-2 victory. Moments later, #25 Quiroz hit the finish line from the serve line as well as he topped #41 Tahir with a 6-1, 7-5 victory that clinched the win and put a stop to the remaining matches. Over at the No. 6 spot, USC's #61 Crystal had won nine consecutive games when his push to victory was interrupted by Quiroz' clincher. He'll have another shot to snag a singles win, however, as will Wang and Johnson, who also had their singles action suspended when the match was finalized at 4-0.
"It's just one more step to our ultimate goal," USC head coach Peter Smith said. "I think that winning is great, but how we won was even more special. We felt very comfortable when we came out and we were dominant.
"I think that [doubles] relaxed us a little. We struggled with doubles this year. We probably lost more doubles points this year than I can ever remember; so when we do win the doubles we feel that much more confident and relaxed. We had a really great day today. To lose just one set, it was the best match we've played this year."
The Trojans now move into the NCAA Quarterfinals, where they will face host Baylor at 2 p.m. CT at Hurd Tennis Center on Saturday (May 16).
2015 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Hurd Tennis Center Waco, Texas)
Round of 16