Trojans Upset Notre Dame 4-3, Advance To NCAA Quarterfinals
May 17, 2007
ATHENS, GA. - The 12th seeded USC men's tennis team took No. 5 seed Notre Dame right down to the wire, and delivered the final winning stroke when freshman Gary Sacks pounded out three straight aces to finalize a third-set comeback and clinch a 4-3 win for the Trojans. The Round of 16 win by USC pushes the Trojans into the quarterfinals of the 2007 NCAA Division I Championships in Athens, Ga., where they square off against fourth-seeded Virginia in a 6 p.m. ET match on May 19. USC's overall record this seasom improves to 23-2 with Thursday's win.
In a match of true momentum swings, the Trojans rode out the waves and wound up with the last word. After dropping the doubles point, USC went on to go up 3-1 in the match on three consecutive singles wins. The Fighting Irish would come back, however, leveling the match to leave the No. 5 singles match between USC freshman Gary Sacks and Notre Dame senior Ryan Keckley going strong. Keckley had taken the upper hand after Sacks won the first set in a tiebreaker. Sacks was up 5-3 in the second, but Keckley answered to rob Sacks of the second and push the match into the third. There, it was Keckley who worked into an advantage, leading 4-2 until Sacks worked the set even 4-4. Sacks then broke Keckley for a 5-4 lead and went on to serve up three straight aces to lock away a huge win for the Trojans and clinch the match with his 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4 decision.
The doubles point hung in the balance thanks to a service-game battle at the No. 1 slot. After Dejan Cvetkovic / Gary Sacks blew by Notre Dame pair Parbhu/Helgeson to pick up a win for the Trojans at No. 2 with an 8-2 decision, Fighting Irish King/Roth caught a break at No. 3 and worked out to an 8-6 win over USC's Jamil Al-Agba / Garrett Snyder to level the doubles action 1-1. That left all eyes on the No. 1 doubles match, where Robert Farah and Kaes Van't Hof were powering out a strong service game to hold serve throughout and force a deciding tiebreaker. In that tiebreaker, however, the Fighting Irish's #28 Bass/Keckley pulled ahead and clinched the doubles point for Notre Dame with a 9-8 (3) decision that brought up the singles action for the Round of 16 match.
The early winning rush for the Trojans was sparked by freshman Jason McNaughton's overpowering effort at the No. 6 slot, as he dispatched Andrew Roth 6-4, 6-1 to even the match at 1-1. Robert Farah secured USC's second point, outlasting his opponent at No. 4 with a second-set tiebreaker that got Farah the win 6-3, 7-6 (4) over Barry King. At No. 1, #36 Jamil Al-Agba got his tense tiebreaker out of the way in the first, hanging on and passing up #8 Stephen Bass with an 11-9 win in the first-set tiebreaker on the way to a 7-6 (9), 6-2 victory that pushed USC ahead 3-1 in the match.
#63 Kaes Van't Hof was tripped up in his third set against Notre Dame's Brett Helgeson, as the Fighting Irish tightened up the match to 3-2 USC while Dejan Cvetkovic and Gary Sacks kept up their battles at No. 2 and No. 5, respectively.
After claiming the first set at No. 5, Sacks was passed up in the second by Ryan Keckley to force a third set. Meanwhile, #52 Cvetkovic was embedded in a tough match at No. 2, with each player trading 7-5 decisions to bring up a third. In that one, Notre Dame's #59 Sheeva Parbhu had the last word, grabbing the advantage up a break and then claiming a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 comeback to make the match 3-3 with the No. 5 singles match between Sacks and Keckley still underway as the clincher. There, Sacks' heroics saved the day for the Trojans and earned them a ticket to the quarterfinals against Virginia.
#12 USC 4, #5 Notre Dame 3
NCAA Round of 16
May 17, 2007 - Athens, Ga.
(1) #28 Bass/Keckley (ND) def. #43 Farah/Van't Hof (USC) - 9-8 (3)
(2) Cvetkovic/Sacks (USC) def. Parbhu/Helgeson (ND) - 8-2
(3) King/Roth (ND) def. Al-Agba/Snyder (USC) - 8-6
Notre Dame wins doubles point.
Order of finish: 2, 3, 1
(1) #36 Jamil Al-Agba (USC) def. #8 Stephen Bass (ND) - 7-6 (9), 6-2
(2) #59 Sheeva Parbhu (ND) def. #52 Dejan Cvetkovic (USC) - 5-7, 7-5, 6-3
(3) Brett Helgeson (ND) def. #63 Kaes Van't Hof (USC) - 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
(4) Robert Farah (USC) def. Barry King (ND) - 6-3, 7-6 (4)
(5) Gary Sacks (USC) def. Ryan Keckley (ND) - 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4*
(6) Jason McNaughton (USC) def. Andrew Roth (ND) - 6-4, 6-1
Order of finish: 6, 4, 1, 3, 2, 5*