No. 5 UCLA Men's Tennis Stuns Top-Ranked USC, 4-3
LOS ANGELES - The No. 5 UCLA men's tennis team pulled off a dramatic victory across town on Friday afternoon, snapping top-ranked USC's 45-match winning streak with a 4-3 win at the Marks Tennis Stadium. With the victory, the Bruins (21-2) finish the conference season undefeated at 7-0, locking up the No. 1 seed in next week's Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, Calif. The Trojans, who will be seeded No. 2 at the Pac-12 Championships, see their record fall to 25-1 overall and 6-1 in conference action.
"It's Unbelievable," said UCLA head coach Billy Martin on the win. "I'm just really proud of these guys. I felt that we had a chance and when we had the opportunity we grabbed it. But to be honest, this is a different team than the last time we played them. I think not only having Dennis (Novikov) makes a difference, but we're also in better shape both physically and mentally. I think this shows that we can compete with the top teams, and if we can battle with at team like USC, we can battle with anyone."
Similar to its 6-1 loss to USC earlier in the year, UCLA dropped the doubles point on Friday after suffering losses at court Nos. 1 and 2. The Bruins did, however, manage to pick up a victory at the No. 3 spot, where Marcos Giron and Warren Hardie downed Emilio Gomez and Yannick Hanfmann, 9-8(1).
USC then picked up another point shortly after singles play began, as second-ranked Steve Johnson was a 6-2, 6-1 winner over Clay Thompson at court No. 1. UCLA senior Nick Meister, who lost to Johnson at the No. 1 position in the earlier showdown between the two teams, was at the No. 2 spot on Friday and he gave the Bruins their first point of the day when he downed Ray Sarmiento, 6-3, 6-4.
The Trojans, however, took a 3-1 lead in the match when Daniel Nguyen downed Novikov, 7-5, 6-4 at court No. 3.
Three matches remained on court at the time of Nguyen's victory and UCLA needed to claim all three to pull off the upset. Bruin freshman Dennis Mkrtchian made it 3-2 USC when he battled back to take a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Roberto Quiroz at court No. 6. Giron, who already owned a win in doubles, then tied things up at the No. 4 spot when he downed Emilio Gomez, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Things began to look good for the Bruins at the time of Giron's victory, as Adrien Puget owned a sizeable lead in the third set over Hanfmann at court No. 5. Puget would hold on for the win, downing Hanfmann, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-2 to clinch the 4-3 upset for UCLA.
"On any given day, if the stars are aligned, we can compete with anyone," added Martin. "This was such a great win for us. I'm hoping we can keep up the momentum heading into next week's conference tournament and then into NCAAs."
#5 UCLA 4, #1 USC 3
Apr 20, 2012 at Los Angeles, CA (Marks Tennis Stadium)
1. #3 Johnson/Quiroz (USC) def. #41 Alex Brigham/Puget (UCLA) 8-5
2. #25 Nguyen/Sarmiento (USC) def. #76 Meister/Novikov (UCLA) 8-3
3. Giron/Warren Hardie (UCLA) def. Gomez/Hanfmann (USC) 9-8 (7-1)
USC Wins Doubles Point
1. #2 Steve Johnson (USC) def. #78 Clay Thompson (UCLA) 6-2, 6-1
2. #21 Nick Meister (UCLA) def. #23 Ray Sarmiento (USC) 6-3, 6-4
3. #17 Daniel Nguyen (USC) def. Dennis Novikov (UCLA) 7-5, 6-4
4. #86 Marcos Giron (UCLA) def. #50 Emilio Gomez (USC) 4-6, 7-5, 6-1
5. #61 Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. #43 Yannick Hanfmann (USC) 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-2
6. Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) def. #123 Roberto Quiroz (USC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
UCLA 21-2; 7-0 Pac-12; National ranking #5
USC 25-1; 6-1 Pac-12; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (1,2,3,4,6,5)