NCAA men's tennis: USC, UCLA advance to Elite Eight
Three Pac-12 teams played in the NCAA men's tennis round of 16 in Athens, Ga., on Friday. Two of them prevailed. Here's a rundown of how the conference fared:
The Trojans are the top seed in the entire NCAA tournament, and they played like it in the round of 16, making quick work of No. 16 seed Columbia. USC won all but one set on the afternoon, and they ended up sweeping the Lions 4-0.
Eight is the number of the day, as the win punched the Trojans' ticket to the Elite Eight for eighth year in a row. Before the day began, it appeared that a Pac-12 rematch in that round might be possible, but California lost to No. 9 seed Texas, so USC will take on the Longhorns instead at 9 a.m. PT Sunday.
Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento got the Trojans rolling by controlling the doubles point before the clincher came from Eric Johnson's racket on court No. 5. This deep, talented USC squad will have a chance to punch its Final Four ticket on Sunday.
The Bears had rolled through the Lone Star State to reach the Sweet 16, defeating Texas Tech and Texas A&M along the way, but the Texas Longhorns successfully defended the Alamo at long last against California. The 'Horns defeated the Bears 4-1. Filip Bergevi won at No. 3 singles to score Cal's only point.
The Bears fought valiantly throughout the singles portion of the contest, but they simply could not dig out of the hole created after they lost Friday's doubles point. That spelled the end of the season for Peter Wright's club, which finished with a record of 17-8. The squad had reached the Sweet 16 after upsetting No. 8 seed Aggies.
Like their Los Angeles counterparts, the Bruins swept their way into the Elite Eight. Sixth-seeded UCLA dispatched of Tennessee 4-0 to earn a date with Ohio State on Sunday. The Baby Blue continues its stellar season; they're now 25-3 on the year. On Friday, they grabbed control from the get-go, securing the doubles point before sweeping their way through singles, securing the easy victory that punched their Elite Eight ticket. The Pac-12 will feature two teams in this next round.
The Bruins, by the way, are the only team in the country to compete in the NCAA championships every season since the team format was adopted in 1977 (that's 38 straight appearances). They've won 16 NCAA titles, so this victory puts them three away from adding number 17.