NCAA men's tennis: UCLA's Marcos Giron wins singles title

UCLA Athletics

No. 2 seed Marcos Giron of UCLA defeated Pepperdine’s Alex Sarkissian 6-4, 6-1 to claim the NCAA men’s singles tennis championship Monday in Athens, Ga. Giron becomes the 11th Bruin to win the NCAA men’s singles title and is the first to do so in eight years.

[Related: 2014 NCAA men's tennis singles final scores (NCAA.com)]

Things were pretty ho-hum for a good chunk of the first set until Giron drew first blood by breaking Sarkissian to take a 3-2 lead. Giron started to show the finesse he had in the semifinal victory over Søren Hess-Olesen of Texas, laying down a beautiful drop shot to help him take a 5-3 lead. Then the Bruin junior displayed his strength by ripping a shot past an at-the-net Sarkissian to nab the first point off the Wave’s serve. But Sarkissian would eventually hold serve to cut the lead to 5-4 after smashing an ace wide. Sarkissian, a junior college transfer, was able to fight off one set point with a backhand winner, but Giron was able to secure the 6-4 tally thanks to a big second serve.

Giron’s tactfully-sound performance kept Sarkissian on his heels in the second set, breaking the Pepperdine product right off the bat and eventually taking a 4-0 lead. Sarkissian was not quite done yet, however, as his stab volley at the net was perhaps the best shot of the day. That shot, which went just inches over the net, helped set up game point for Sarkissian and allowed the redshirt senior to take his first game of the second set.

And, with Giron having his back worked on during the changeover up 4-1, it looked like the door might have been cracked open for Sarkissian to make his move. Not so, though, because Giron battled back with some big serves to hold and take a 5-1 lead. Sarkissian fought off two match points on his serve, one with a cross-court backhand winner and another with a big forehand. Yet Giron hit a huge return on Sarkissian’s next service that the Wave could not return, thus ending the match.

[Related: UCLA's Marcos Giron powers into finals]

The Southern California natives were familiar with each other before Monday’s final, as Sarkissian beat Giron 6-4, 7-5 in the 2012-13 season before Giron returned the favor 6-2, 6-3 in February.

Giron is the first Bruin to win the NCAA men’s singles title since Benjamin Kohlloeffel in 2006. Other past Bruin champions include Arthur Ashe (1965) and Billy Martin (1975), the current head coach of UCLA men’s tennis.

For his efforts, Giron now gets a wild card spot in the U.S. Open. As the Pepperdine release notes, Sarkissian is the first Pepperdine player to advance to the NCAA men’s singles final since Robbie Weiss won it all in 1988. The 2014 WCC Player of the Year, Sarkissian will take a spot in the qualifying draw for the U.S. Open as the runner-up.

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