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No. 2 UCLA Edges No. 13 USC in Thriller
Saturday, 04/07/2018
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UCLA Team Page

LOS ANGELES – The No. 2 UCLA men's tennis team edged No. 13 USC Friday in a match fit for the storied rivalry. Neither team led by more than one point in the Pac-12 showdown, with three tiebreakers needed to decide it. Ultimately, it was Bruin junior Maxime Cressy who secured the 4-3 win with a three-set victory in front of a raucous crowd at Marks Tennis Stadium.

"To win these last couple [singles] matches, especially No. 5 singles [in front of] a real rabid SC crowd was pretty exciting for us," said UCLA head coach Billy Martin. "Great win. These are two great teams, great traditions."

The Bruins jumped out to clear advantages on Courts 1 and 3 in doubles play, with an eye on taking an early lead on the road. Maxime Cressy-Bryce Pereira of UCLA took three of the first four games on Court 3, while Martin Redlicki-Evan Zhu captured four of the first five on the top court.

Seeing their Trojan teammates trailing, Jack Jaede and Laurens Verboven knew they needed to capture their ranked matchup on Court 2. The No. 24 pair did just that, taking down No. 11 Austin Rapp-Keegan Smith of the Bruins, 6-2, for the day's first win.

Cressy-Pereira would be next off the doubles courts, dispatching the USC duo of Tanner Smith-Daniel Cukierman, 6-2, on Court 3. The Court 1 duel, meanwhile, became a whole new match when ninth-ranked Brandon Holt-Riley Smith of the Trojans took five of the last seven games to force a decisive tiebreaking set. There, the Bruins grabbed five of the first seven points before the Trojans staged another comeback. The pair ran off an improbable five straight points to deal the Bruins a blow heading into singles action.

UCLA took four of six first sets in singles play, giving them life after the tough doubles loss. No. 46 Smith was first off the singles courts with a straight-set win on Court 3, 6-3, 6-2, improving the freshman's dual-match mark to 16-2 and pulling the Bruins even. That lead was short-lived, however, as Laurens Verboven next dealt No. 69 Bruin Logan Staggs a loss on Court 4, 6-3, 6-0, to put the Trojans back into the lead at 2-1.

A fired-up No. 84 Zhu would not let the doubles loss bring him down, quickly jumping out to a 6-2 advantage over No. 75 Daniel Cukierman. The Trojan freshman proved his mettle in the second set, though, going shot for shot with the defending Pac-12 Player of the Week on the way to a 12th game. Zhu would ultimately prove too much, taking his fifth-straight singles decision in as many matches.

The marquee match of the day took place on Court 1, where No. 1 Martin Redlicki of the Bruins did battle with Trojan counterpart and 13th-ranked Brandon Holt. Redlicki doubled up Holt in the first set, 6-3, but drama would abound in the second. With the doubles loss in the back of his mind, the Bruin senior entered another tiebreaker with the sophomore standout. This one would go the way of the Bruins, though, 10-8.

"I was just thinking to myself, I would not be denied today," said Redlicki. "It's my last SC match, playing against another captain of SC's team. I just knew I needed to step up for my team and my teammates stepped up for me as well and, like Coach (Martin) said, it's going to be a huge group effort and that's exactly what it was."

Thibault Forget handed Connor Hance a three-set loss on Court 6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, to ensure the match would go the distance. All eyes then turned to the opposite end of the stadium, as Riley Smith was taking Cressy into a deciding third set.

For the second time in as many matches with the Trojans, though, Cressy played the part of hero. His 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2 win marked the difference, giving the Bruins their ninth straight win and keeping them undefeated in conference play.

"I was very nervous, but at the same time very excited to win that match," said Cressy. "It's very hard to keep myself centered in the here and now, but that's something I did very well in the third set and the whole match."

UCLA will now turn its focus to a desert trip and dates with Arizona State and Arizona. The Bruins will take on the Sun Devils Friday, April 13 at 5 p.m., before concluding their trip Sunday in Tucson with the Wildcats (noon).

Tennis Match Results
UCLA vs USC
April 6, 2018 at Los Angeles, CA
(Marks Tennis Stadium)

#2 UCLA 4, #13 USC 3

Singles competition
1. #1 Martin Redlicki (UCLA) def. #13 Brandon Holt (USC), 6-3, 7-6 (8)
2. #84 Evan Zhu (UCLA) def. #75 Daniel Cukierman (USC), 6-2, 7-5
3. #46 Keegan Smith (UCLA) def. Jack Jaede (USC), 6-3, 6-2
4. Laurens Verboven (USC) def. #69 Logan Staggs (UCLA), 6-3, 6-0
5. Maxime Cressy (UCLA) def. Riley Smith (USC), 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2
6. Thibault Forget (USC) def. Connor Hance (UCLA), 6-2, 4-6, 6-3

Doubles competition
1. #9 Brandon Holt/Riley Smith (USC) def. #36 Martin Redlicki/Evan Zhu (UCLA), 7-6 (5)
2. #24 Jack Jaede/Laurens Verboven (USC) def. #11 Austin Rapp/Keegan Smith (UCLA), 6-2
3. Bryce Pereira/Maxime Cressy (UCLA) def. Tanner Smith/Daniel Cukierman (USC), 6-3

Match Notes:
USC 12-7; National ranking #13
UCLA 20-2; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (3,4,2,1,6,5)