by Bobby Knight. Pictured UCLA's Dennis Mkrtchian
Day 1 of the Inaugural Pac-12/SEC Showdown brought us a dominating performance by USC against Georgia and a solid performance by UCLA against Florida. Surprisingly of the 2 matches the Florida/UCLA match was the closer one with Florida coming out strong and taking the doubles point then grabbing 1st sets at 2 and 5 before UCLA was able to pull away with wins from Clay Thompson at 1, Mackenzie McDonald at 3, Gage Brymer at 4, and Dennis Mkrtchian at 6. In the second match of the day USC jumped on Georgia early and never let up riding the momentum from the doubles point to pick up 3 straight set wins at 1, 2, and 5 from Ray Sarmiento, Yannick Hanfmann, and Jonny Wang.
So will the SEC rise up on Sunday and turn it around or will the Pac-12 drop the hammer and complete the sweep? I'm going to go with the latter and look for both UCLA and USC to get wins. Both matches will be shown Live on the Pac-12 Network and on Pac12.com though you can only watch online if your cable subscriber carries the Pac-12 Network.
#3 Georgia at #2 UCLA - 1pm est/10am pst – Georgia started off slow in doubles and it bled over into singles while UCLA started off slow in doubles but turned it around in singles. Georgia must take the doubles point to have any shot in this one but I just don't see that happening. Prediction: UCLA 4-0
Projected Singles Lineup
#1. Clay Thompson (UCLA) vs. Austin Smith (Georgia) – Thompson picked a quick win on Saturday when his opponent retired due to a rolled ankle in the first set while Smith came up short falling 6-4 6-4 to Ray Sarmiento. Smith and Thompson should both be familiar with each others game after spending a week together in December at the USTA National Collegiate Team winter training camp. Prediction: DNF with Smith up a set.
#2. Marcos Giron (UCLA) vs. Nathan Pasha (Georgia) – Giron trailed in his match against Diego Hidalgo 6-5 2-2 when play was halted while Pasha fell to Yannick Hanfmann 6-5 6-1. Giron will right the ship on Sunday and pick up a straight set win. Prediction: Giron in 2
#3. Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) vs. Ben Wagland (Georgia) – McDonald got off to a fast start against Gordon Watson and cruised to a 6-4 6-1 win while Wagland dropped his opening set against Roberto Quiroz but was up a break in the second set when the match was halted. I look for Wagland to have the edge in this match and be in a winning position but the match likely won't make it to a finish. Prediction: DNF with Wagland up a set
#4. Gage Brymer (UCLA) vs. Garrett Brasseaux (Georgia) – Brasseaux was one of the few bright spots for Georgia on Saturday with Garrett leading Connor Farren 6-4 5-2 when the match was halted while Brymer rolled to a 6-1 6-1 win over fellow freshman Elliott Orkin. Prediction: DNF with Brymer up a set.
#5. Karue Sell (UCLA) vs. Hernus Pieters (Georgia) – Sell got outplayed on Saturday by Maxx Lipman and trailed 6-4 5-4 when the Bruins clinched while Pieters was blown off the court by Jonny Wang 6-3 6-1. Both players will look to rebound and I think Sell will play better and come out on top. Prediction: Sell in 2
#6. Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) vs. Nick Wood (Georgia) – Mkrtchian clinched the victory over Florida with a straight set win over Florent Diep while Wood was a game away from defeat trailing Eric Johnson 6-5 5-2. Dennis has been a roll lately and will provide the clincher again on Sunday. Prediction: Mkrtchian in 2
#11 Florida at #4 USC - 4pm est/1pm pst – Florida put in a solid effort against a tough UCLA team but lost its #1 , Spencer Newman, to a sprained ankle so more than likely he'll not play on Sunday meaning the rest of the team will have to step it up. If Stephane Piro is able to play singles on Sunday, after sitting out on Saturday, then the ripple effect of not having Newman won't be as bad but if Piro can't go Florida is going to be in trouble at the top of the lineup. Prediction: USC 4-0
Projected Singles Lineups:
#1. Diego Hidalgo (Florida) vs. Ray Sarmiento (USC) – Hidalgo put in a very solid performance against Marcos Giron leading the Bruin by a set while Sarmiento clinched the Trojan victory with a 6-4 6-4 win over Austin Smith. Prediction: DNF with Sarmiento up a set.
#2. Gordon Watson (Florida) vs. Yannick Hanfmann (USC) – Hanfmann rolled Nathan Pasha 6-5 6-1 on Saturday while Watson came up short against Mackenzie McDonald losing 6-4 6-1. Hanfmann shouldn't have too much trouble in this one. Prediction: Hanfmann in 2
#3. Elliott Orkin (Florida) vs. Roberto Quiroz (USC) – Quiroz didn't get to finish his match on Saturday though he led Ben Wagland 6-3 1-3 while Orkin took it on the chin and fell to Gage Brymer 6-1 6-1. The skilled Trojan lefty will win going away. Prediction: Quiroz in 2
#4. Maxx Lipman (Florida) vs. Connor Farren (USC) – Lipman was a game away from knocking off Karue Sell while Farren was a game away from falling to Garrett Brasseaux. Prediction: DNF with Lipman up a set.
#5. Florent Diep (Florida) vs. Jonny Wang (USC) – Diep had a disappointing loss on Saturday falling 6-3 6-5 to Dennis Mkrtchian while Wang rolled to a 6-3 6-1 win over Hernus Pieters. Diep should play a little better on Sunday though I don't see this one finishing up. Prediction: DNF with Diep up a set.
#6. Michael Alford (Florida) vs. Eric Johnson (USC) – Johnson was a game away from knocking off Nick Wood on Saturday while Alford didn't see action in singles though did help secure the doubles point with a win at 1. Prediction: Johnson in 2