UCLA Men's Tennis Team Claims Fifth Straight Pac-10 Title
April 18, 2008
LOS ANGELES - On a day that the UCLA women's tennis team captured its first-ever Pac-10 Championship, the fifth-ranked UCLA men took top honors in the conference for the fifth year in a row, registering a 4-3 victory over No. 4 USC at the Marks Tennis Stadium on Friday. It is the second consecutive year that the Bruins have edged the Trojans in the final match of the regular season to claim the title.
'This team has such great determination and a will to win,' said UCLA head coach Billy Martin, who earned his ninth Pac-10 title as coach on Friday. 'I'm just so proud of them. They fought back when we were down and never gave up.'
Although it marked just the first point of the day, UCLA (21-1; 7-0 Pac-10) just might have won the match with a remarkable comeback in doubles. After USC (19-4; 6-1) took an 8-4 win at court No. 1, the Trojans looked well on their way to claiming the point with leads on the remaing two courts. Mathieu Dehaine and Holden Seguso managed to battle back at court No. 2, eventually taking a 9-7 win to even the play. All eyes then turned to court No. 3, where UCLA's Jeremy Drean and Michael Look were in a tight battle with USC's Andrew Piotrowski/Jaak Poldma. Drean and Look, down 3-7 at one point in the set, fought off several match points during a dramatic comeback that saw the Bruin duo pull out a 9-8(2) victory.
'We were down so bad at court No. 1 and 3 that I absolutely thought we had lost the point,' said Martin. 'I just told the guys to keep fighting in hopes that they would at least begin to play better so it would help us going into singles. But they came back from two breaks down to pull out the win. The crowd was just in shock and really quieted down at that point. I think that win set the tone for the rest of the match.'
Although the Trojans were down, they certainly weren't out, taking two of the first three singles matches to even it up. USC sophomore Jason McNaughton was first off at court No. 6, recording a 6-2, 6-2 win over Drean. Look then gave UCLA a 2-1 advantage following his 7-5, 6-2 victory over Gary Sacks at court No. 4. The Trojans answered right back, however, as Poldma downed Dehaine, 6-4, 6-3 at court No. 3 to tie the match at 2-2.
The Bruins would take a 3-2 advantage when freshman Nick Meister was able to notch a 6-3, 6-3 win over Abdullah Magdas at court No. 5. That win set up Harel Srugo's match-clinching victory at court No. 1, as the Bruin senior upset seventh-ranked Robert Farah, 6-4, 6-3 to give UCLA the Pac-10 Championship.
'They threw everything they could at us but we stayed focused,' added Martin. Everyone from the football team to the song girls to the band was there. It was a vocal crowd and I've seen some really good players buckle in those types of situations. But everyone did a great job at handling the pressure. I couldn't be more proud of this team than I am today.'
With the win, UCLA gained an additional 2.5 points in the race for the Lexus Gauntlet Trophy. USC currently leads the all-sports standings by a score of 47.5 to 37.5.
Next up for UCLA is the Pac-10 Championships, April 24-27 in Ojai, Calif.
|1.||(2) Farah/Van't Hof (USC) def. (45) Meister/Srugo (UCLA)|
|2.||Dehaine/Seguso (UCLA) def. Magdas/Sacks (USC)|
|UCLA WinsDoubles Point -- Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3|
|1.||(23) Harel Srugo (UCLA) def. (7) Robert Farah (USC)|
|2.||(34) Kaes Van't Hof (USC) def. (52) Holden Seguso (UCLA)|
|3.||(97) Jaak Poldma (USC) def. (27) Mathieu Dehaine (UCLA)|
|4.||Michael Look (UCLA) def. (68) Gary Sacks (USC)|
|5.||Nick Meister (UCLA) def. Abdullah Magdas (USC)|
|6.||Jason McNaughton (USC) def. Jeremy Drean (UCLA)|
|* Denotes Clinching Match -- Order of Finish: 6, 4, 3, 5, 1, 2|