NCAA men's tennis: UCLA's Giron powers into finals
UCLA’s Marcos Giron defeated Texas’ Søren Hess-Olesen 7-5, 6-3 to surge into the finals of the NCAA men’s singles championship. The second-seeded Giron will square off against Pepperdine’s Alex Sarkissian on Monday in Athens, Ga.
Though it was a two-set victory, things did not start out so swimmingly for the Bruin junior from Thousand Oaks, Calif. Danish import and 2014 Big 12 Player of the Year Hess-Olesen broke Giron and took the first three games of the match before Giron kicked it into gear. Giron quickly turned the 3-0 deficit into a 4-4 stalemate and had a chance to break Denmark’s finest in the next game, but Hess-Olesen charged back and held serve with an ace down the middle that appeared impossible to return.
Once the Longhorn took a 5-4 lead, however, Giron would rip off a string of six consecutive games spanning two sets. The second-ranked player in the country would not miss out on his next attempt to break Hess-Olesen, thus taking a 6-5 lead. Serving for the set, Giron did not give up a point on his service and claimed the set with a screaming serve that the 9-16 seed Hess-Olesen couldn’t keep in play.
Giron was starting to put on a clinic. Early in the second set, he landed a beautiful drop shot to end a rally which would help him hold serve and take a 2-0 second-set lead. It looked like the Bruin All-American had a chance to completely run away with the match.
But give credit where credit is due. Falling behind 3-0 in the second set with Giron serving, Hess-Olesen broke the Bruin and then held serve to close the gap to 3-2. The Big 12 rep once again pulled to within one game at 4-3, but that would be the last positive mark for Hess-Olesen. Giron held serve and then broke Hess-Olesen, clinching match point on a double fault by the Longhorn.
This was a bit of a revenge match for Giron, who lost to Hess-Olesen in three sets in the round of 16 in last year’s men’s singles championship.
Looking forward to Monday, Giron defeated Sarkissian 6-2, 6-3 in February. A Giron victory on Memorial Day would give the Pac-12 four of the last five NCAA men’s singles champions, following in the footsteps of Stanford’s Bradley Klahn in 2010 and USC’s Steve Johnson in 2011 and 2012.
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Sarkissian defeated Harvard’s Denis Nguyen 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the other semifinal.