USC Men, California Women Play For NCAA Tennis Title Tuesday
May 18, 2009
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS - The USC men's tennis team and the California women's team take aim at NCAA titles tomorrow at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the campus of Texas A&M. The Trojans eliminated Texas, 4-1, while the Bears downed Notre Dame, 4-1, on Monday. Now holding a 24-5 overall record, No. 8 seed USC plays for its 17th NCAA Championhship - and first since 2002 - in a 2 p.m. CT match against No. 3 Ohio State on Tuesday, May 19. Also the No. 8 seed, California will face third-seeded Duke in the finals at 5 p.m. CT.
Back in the semis for the first time since 2004, the Trojans snatched the doubles point from the Longhorns to take the early 1-0 lead. Texas got the first singles win of the day, but the Trojans rallied ahead with straight-set wins from their top two singles players, Robert Farah and Steve Johnson, before getting the clincher in a three-setter from freshman Matt Kecki at the No. 5 slot.
Somewhat passed over in the excited shuffle of USC's quarterfinal upset of Virginia on Sunday was a benchmark win for USC head coach Peter Smith. USC's 4-0 win over the Cavaliers was Smith's 400th career victory. Today's semifinal win over Texas puts Smith at a 401-191 career record as he rounds out his 22nd season as a head coach.
Winning their 11th consecutive match, the Golden Bears will be making back-to-back appearances in the championship final as they draw No. 3 Duke. Needing just one more point to seal the deal, No. 41-ranked sophomore Mari Andersson put a shot so deep into the far corner of Cosmina Ciobanu's court that the Fighting Irish junior barely got her racquet on the ball. The error ended the match with Andersson winning 7-5, 6-3 at the second court. It was her fifth straight singles win and her 20th overall in dual matches.
The Bears have faced Duke eight times with the Blue Devils holding a 6-2 lead in the all-time series, but the last time the two teams met, Cal dismissed Duke from the 2008 NCAA championship with a 4-3 win in the Round of 16 in Tulsa, Okla. The Bears are perfect against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference this season with a 3-0 record and hold a 16-2 mark against teams outside the Pac-10 Conference. Last year, Cal made school history by advancing to the national championship match where it fell to UCLA, 4-0.