NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships: UCLA, USC advance to Round of 16

USC Athletics / @uclatennis

The field for the 2018 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships has been whittled down to 16 teams, and UCLA and USC are among those still in the hunt for a national championship.

[Related: 2018 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships bracket (NCAA.com)]

UCLA

UCLA, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, put together a 4-0 sweep of San Diego on Sunday in Los Angeles, advancing the Bruins to their 42nd consecutive Round of 16. Not bad, fellas!

The Bruins got off to a slow start against the Toreros, allowing USD’s top doubles pair on court 1 to take down UCLA’s duo of Martin Redlicki and Evan Zhu, 6-0. With the doubles point on the line, the Bruins ground out wins on courts 2 and 3. Austin Rapp and Keegan Smith beat their opponents on court 2, 6-2, and Maxime Cressy and Bryce Pereira finished off their match on court 3, 6-3.

With the doubles point in hand, UCLA then went to work in singles play. Martin Redlicki made up for his doubles loss by securing the team’s second point of the day on court 1 with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over USD’s August Holmgren. Keegan Smith, who had already tallied a doubles win, got it done in singles, too. The freshman took down Nico Borter, 6-4, 6-0, bringing the Bruins to a 3-0 lead. They just needed one more point to move to the next round, and Maxime Cressy made it happen. Here’s how his 6-3, 6-3 match came to a close:

UCLA faces the 15th-seeded Michigan Wolverines in the Round of 16 on Friday at 6 a.m. PT at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

USC

USC had a sweep of its own on Sunday, knocking out Harvard in Los Angeles to advance to the Round of 16.

Courts 1 and 2 did the heavy lifting for the Trojans in doubles play, with Jack Jaede and Laurens Verboven posting a 6-2 win on court 1 followed by a 7-6 (2) tiebreak victory by Brandon Holt and Riley Smith on court 2.

Verboven continued his winning ways in singles play as the first Trojan to take down his Harvard opponent on court 4. Just minutes after Verboven’s 6-1, 6-1 win, his doubles teammate Jaede followed suit with a 6-0, 6-2 win on court 3.

USC just needed one more point to secure the sweep but had the other four singles matches in three sets. Daniel Cukierman ended up being the clincher on court 2.

The 10th-seeded Trojans face the seventh-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels in the Round of 16. That match takes place Friday at 6 a.m. PT at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Oregon

Oregon’s season came to a close Sunday with a 4-0 loss to No. 9 seed Texas Christian on the Horned Frogs’ home court.

TCU took the doubles point with relative ease, downing the Ducks on court 1 (6-1) and court 2 (6-2). It didn’t get any easier for Oregon in singles play. Thomas Laurent went down first on court 1 (6-1, 6-0) to 21st-ranked Alex Rybakov. Courts 3 and 4 did the rest for the Horned Frogs, topping Akihiro Tanaka (6-4, 6-2) and Ty Gentry (6-4, 6-3) to advance to the Round of 16.

The Ducks conclude their season with an 18-10 record, marking three consecutive campaigns with 18 or more wins. Up next, they turn their attention to Thomas Laurent, who will be competing in the NCAA singles tournament starting May 23.

Stanford

Stanford is also going home (rather, staying at home) after falling to Ole Miss at Stanford’s Taube Family Tennis Center on Sunday.

The 4-3 heartbreaker started on the doubles courts, where Stanford’s Eric Fomba and Sameer Kumar beat out their Rebel opposition on court 2 to claim the first match of the day. But they would not get any more help in doubles play as Ole Miss won courts 1 and 3, marking just the sixth time in 26 matches that the Cardinal gave up the doubles point.

Ole Miss and Stanford traded wins on the singles courts throughout the rest of the match. Filip Kraljevic gave the Rebels a 2-0 team lead after defeating Kumar on court 3, but Fomba followed shortly thereafter with a point for Stanford on court 4. Tom Fawcett, the country’s No. 9 player and Stanford’s top singles competitor, locked up a 6-4, 6-2 victory on court 1 to tie up the team score at two points apiece.

Things looked good for the Cardinal when David Wilczynski put Stanford up, 3-2, courtesy of his 6-2, 6-3 win on court 5. But Ole Miss’ Tim Sandkaulen defeated Axel Geller on court 2, tying up the team score once again at 3-3.

It all went down to court 6, where Stanford’s William Genesen battled Finn Reynolds through three sets to clinch the match. Reynolds put up a strong and decisive final set (6-3, 6-8, 6-2) to end the Cardinal’s season and move on to the Round of 16.

Tom Fawcett and Axel Geller will both play in the NCAA singles tournament and pair up for the NCAA doubles championship in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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