LOS ANGELES – A little more than a week after suffering its first loss of the season at the hands of USC in the semifinals of the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors, the fourth-ranked UCLA men’s tennis team returned the favor on Tuesday afternoon, downing the No. 2 Trojans, 5-2 in a non-conference match at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
UCLA (9-1) dropped the doubles point to USC (9-2) at the Indoors and Tuesday was no different, with the Trojans taking wins at court Nos. 1 and 3 to claim the one point awarded for doubles play. Fortunately, the Bruins area of strength this season has been singles play, and UCLA knew that it had the firepower to bounce back.
Most of the attention early on in singles play came from court Nos. 1 and 2, which featured four of the top 10 players in America. Fifth-ranked Marcos Giron was first to finish his match at court No. 1, taking a 6-3, 6-4 win over 10th-ranked Yannick Hanfmann of USC. It was a sweet win for Giron, who lost the deciding match to Hanfmann in UCLA’s 4-3 loss at the Indoors.
Another battle of top 10 players was taking place next door at court No. 2, where top-ranked Clay Thompson was cruising over sixth-ranked Ray Sarmiento of USC. At the time of Giron’s victory, Thompson had won the first set 6-1 and was on serve with Sarmiento in the second set.
The next point to finish, however, would come from court No. 5, where 98th-ranked Karue Sell put on an impressive display against Max de Vroome, winning 6-1, 6-1. Sell has now lost a total of just three games in his last two matches, as he was also a 6-1, 6-0 winner against Pepperdine last Saturday.
Freshman Mackenzie McDonald, who is ranked 35th nationally, would then give UCLA a 3-1 lead, as he downed 80th-ranked Roberto Quiroz, 6-4, 6-2 at court No. 3. Although McDonald’s win meant that the Bruins only needed one more victory to take the dual match, USC was starting to show signs of life. Sarmiento battled back to take the second set in a tiebreaker at court No. 2, and Eric Johnson, who lost the first set 6-1 to Joseph Di Giulio at court No. 6, stormed back to take the second set 6-3.
Fortunately for UCLA, freshman Gage Brymer put to rest any thoughts of a USC comeback when he downed Connor Farren, 7-5, 6-3 at court No. 4 to give UCLA an insurmountable 4-1 lead. Brymer is listed at No. 74 in this week’s ITA Singles Rankings.
With the match already decided, Johnson battled back to down Di Giulio, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 6 spot, and Thompson beat Sarmiento, 6-1, 6-7(1), 6-2 at court No. 2.
UCLA rounds out the week in La Jolla, Calif. at the Pacific Coast Doubles Championships. The Bruins then host defending NCAA Champion Virginia on March 6 at the Los Angeles Tennis Center (12:00 p.m.).
#4 UCLA 5, #2 USC 2
Feb 25, 2014 at Los Angeles, CA (Los Angeles Tennis Center)
|1. #12 Hanfmann/Sarmiento (USC) def. #25 Giron/McDonald (UCLA) 8-6|
|2. Di Giulio/Thompson (UCLA) vs. Farren/Quiroz (USC) 6-5, unfinished|
|3. de Vroome/Johnson (USC) def. Brymer/Sell (UCLA) 8-3|
USC Wins Doubles Point
|1. #5 Marcos Giron (UCLA) def. #10 Yannick Hanfmann (USC) 6-3, 6-4|
|2. #1 Clay Thompson (UCLA) def. #6 Ray Sarmiento (USC) 6-1, 6-7(1), 6-2|
|3. #35 Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) def. #80 Roberto Quiroz (USC) 6-4, 6-2|
|4. #74 Gage Brymer (UCLA) def. Connor Farren (USC) 7-5, 6-3|
|5. #98 Karue Sell (UCLA) def. Max de Vroome (USC) 6-1, 6-1|
|6. Eric Johnson (USC) def. Joseph Di Giulio (UCLA) 1-6, 6-3, 6-4|
|USC 9-2; National ranking #2|
|UCLA 9-1; National ranking #4|
|Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (1,5,3,4,6,2)|