No. 1 USC Men Battle Back To NCAA Semifinals, Top Texas 4-1|
May 18, 2014
ATHENS, GA. -- The No. 1 USC men's tennis team kept its eyes on the prize in today's NCAA Quarterfinal bout against No. 9 seed Texas, letting a lost doubles point roll off its back and regrouping for a singles rally to victory. Playing indoors in Athens, Ga., at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex -- on the same courts where they had won the 2012 NCAA Championship -- the Trojans got down to business on limited court space in singles. The first four courts to see action were also the first four wins for USC, which captured a trip to the NCAA Semifinals with a 4-1 comeback win over the Longhorns today. Now 30-3 overall, USC will now square off against No. 4 seed Virginia in the NCAA Semifinals at 6 p.m. ET tomorrow (May 19).
Doubles action was a dogfight that saw the Trojans trailing on all three courts, working to reel in the Longhorns down the line. On court two, USC's Connor Farren and Roberto Quiroz were plugging away in stride with Texas' Berkowicz/Goldhoff. Their see-saw battle was cut short, however, when Texas made late moves on the other two courts. At the No. 3 spot, USC's Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson were locked up with Holiner/Lewis until the two Longhorns managed a break to win it 8-6. On court one, USC's #1 team of Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento had their hands full with #16 Glasspool/Hess-Olesen. The Trojans were down a break but battled back into it to force a 7-7 draw and bring up a tiebreaker. There, Glasspool/Hess-Olesen grabbed an early advantage and were able to fend off the Trojan duo, who got close but were edged out to fall 8-7 (5) as Texas snagged the doubles point.
Singles play began with just the top four matches, as the indoor facility only holds four courts. After being suspended in doubles play, #91 Max de Vroome was intent on getting to the finish line in singles, and he did so with authority. The heavy-hitting sophomore was near unstoppable from the service line, where he'd top off his strong performance and tack up a 6-3, 6-2 win over #102 George Goldhoff to level the score at 1-1 overall. His fellow Trojans on court had already picked up the first sets in their respective matches, and de Vroome's win cleared the way for his doubles partner Eric Johnson to get going in his No. 5 singles match.
On court two, #9 Ray Sarmiento had posted a decisive first set, but was in more of a snarl in the second. After being broken to fall in a 4-4 draw there, Sarmiento broke #40 Lloyd Glasspool right back to head to the service line for a shot at wrapping up the win to get USC a lead. The hold would elude the Trojan senior at that stage, but he'd take full advantage of the tiebreaker soon after. Sarmiento punched up a 2-1 lead with his 6-1, 7-6 (3) victory on court two, while #10 Yannick Hanfmann and #42 Roberto Quiroz both found themselves stretched to third sets. Quiroz had stumbled in a second-set tiebreaker to move into a third. Hanfmann, meanwhile, got up a break in the third to make some room against #16 Søren Hess-Olesen. For good measure, Hanfmann dealt out one final break to net the win, taking out Hess-Olesen 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 to put USC in position, up 3-1 in the match with leads on the remaining three courts.
In his third set on court three, Quiroz got an early break on Adrien Berkowicz. At the No. 5 spot, though, Eric Johnson was charged up and on pace to possibly beat Quiroz to the finish line. Johnson took a 4-0 lead over Nick Naumann, while Quiroz was up 4-2 on court three. Quiroz would come through in the clutch. The junior clocked in with his 20th consecutive singles win and eighth clincher of the year on his 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-3 finish.
That wrapped the match as a 4-1 USC comeback, leaving Johnson's match suspended with him in reach of a win at 6-4, 5-3 against Naumann, while Michael Grant was even at 5-5 in the first set against Clement Homs at the No. 6 position.
Now up against No. 4 seed Virginia in tomorrow's semifinals, the Trojans are going up against the Cavaliers for the fifth time in the past six trips to the NCAA Tourney. USC beat Virginia in both the 2012 and 2011 NCAA Championships matches, in the 2010 NCAA Semifinals, and in the 2009 NCAA Quarterfinals. The teams did not face off in last year's NCAA Tournament, but they did clash during the regular season last year, where USC fell to Virginia in the final of the 2013 ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
2014 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Athens, Ga.)