by Bobby Knight. Pictured Oklahoma's Guillermo Alcorta
What a great night of college tennis we saw with what many would call 2 upset winners advancing to Tuesday night’s National Championship Match despite the fact that those 2 teams were ranked #1 and #2 in the country going into the NCAA Tournament. #1 USC slayed the defending national champion Virginia Cavaliers by a 5-1 score while #2 Oklahoma defeated last year’s national runner-up UCLA Bruins by a 4-2 score.
So what’s at stake on Tuesday – for USC a chance to win its 5th national title in the last 6 years and 21st overall while for Oklahoma they have the opportunity to win national title #1.
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USC (1) vs. Oklahoma (2) – 5pm EST – Both teams got off to a great start on Monday night by taking the doubles point which boosted USC’s doubles record to 27-5 while Oklahoma’s rose to 22-9. The biggest surprise was that each team was able to sweep the 1 and 2 singles positions despite being underdogs in both matches and for Oklahoma the ability to win at #6 singles, which hadn’t been a strong spot, was the icing on the cake. With a national championship at stake you know that motivation won’t be an issue and out of these 6 singles matches the only one that I see being lopsided will be at #5 singles. All other matches should be tight and very likely could go 3-sets. I like USC at #3 doubles and think the Trojans will be able to pick up #2 doubles as well to claim the doubles point and the 1-0 lead. So who wins it all – let’s see.
1. Yannick Hanfmann vs. Guillermo Alcorta – Hanfmann is 17-4 and Alcorta is 21-6 with both splitting time between 1 and 2. Both are coming off monster wins that clinched their teams semifinal wins with Hanfmann beating Alex Domijan 4-6 7-6(10) 6-4 while Alcorta avenged an earlier loss to Clay Thompson by knocking off the Bruin 0-6 6-2 7-6(5). These two met in the Round of 32 at the National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships back in November with Alcorta winning 6-1 6-4. Hanfmann has won 9 in a row while Alcorta has won 12 of 14. Prediction: DNF with Hanfmann (USC) leading in the 3rd.
2. Ray Sarmiento vs. Axel Alvarez – Sarmiento is 17-7 and Alvarez is 21-4 with both splitting time between 1 and 2. Sarmiento is coming off a 6-4 7-5 win over Mitchell Frank while Alvarez rocked Marcos Giron 6-4 6-2. These two met in the Round of 32 at the ITA All American’s back in October with Sarmiento winning 7-5 6-0. This is a tough one to predict because both are coming off huge wins over top 10 players but I’ll go with the experience of the USC senior to pull him through. Prediction: Sarmiento (USC) in 2.
3. Roberto Quiroz vs. Dane Webb – Quiroz is 24-2 playing primarily at 3 while Webb is 24-3 splitting time between 3 and 4. Quiroz is coming off just his 2nd loss of the season after dropping a 6-1 6-4 decision to Ryan Shane while Webb went down for just the 3rd time this year 6-4 6-4 to Mackenzie McDonald. I think Quiroz will rebound from his loss better than Webb and will win in 3. Prediction: Quiroz (USC) in 3
4. Max De Vroome vs. Andrew Harris – De Vroome is 16-4 playing primarily at 4 while Harris is 20-4 after splitting time between 3 and 4. Neither player was able to finish their match on Monday with De Vroome leading Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 3-1 in the 3rd while Harris was on serve trailing 3-2 in the 3rd to Gage Brymer. Harris defeated De Vroome 7-5 7-5 this past October in the qualifying rounds of the ITA All American’s in Tulsa. Both players are playing extremely well right now and this one should go 3-sets with me leaning towards the OU freshman from Australia. Prediction: Harris (OU) in 3.
5. Eric Johnson vs. Austin Siegel - Johnson is 22-3 playing at 4, 5, and 6 while Siegel is 12-8 splitting time between 5 and 6. Johnson put USC’s 1st singles point on the board against Virginia with a 6-4 7-5 win over Justin Shane while Siegel went down 6-2 6-3 to Adrien Puget. Johnson is the better player by a good bit and I’d be very surprised if this wasn’t a straight set win for the USC junior. Prediction: Johnson (USC) in 2.
6. Michael Grant vs. Alex Ghilea – Grant is 13-2 playing 10 of those matches at 6 while Ghilea is 11-5 splitting time between 5 and 6. Both had huge wins on Monday with Grant coming from a break down in the 3rd set to defeat JC Aragone 7-5 3-6 6-3 while Ghilea came from 5-3 down in the 3rd to defeat Karue Sell 6-3 4-6 7-6(5). Ghilea has really come on strong in this tournament gaining more and more belief with each match and I think that confidence will propel him past Grant. Prediction: Ghilea (OU) in 2.
National Championship Prediction: USC 4-2