Farah And Van't Hof Stretch Into NCAA Title Match
May 25, 2008
TULSA, OKLA. - USC's standout doubles team of Robert Farah and Kaes Van't Hof pulled off an outrageously tight victory on Sunday to earn a place in the NCAA Doubles Championship match. The Trojan duo played through three tiebreakers - the third of which went to a marathon 12-10 decision in USC's favor - to emerge with a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (10) win over Ole Miss pair Bram ten Berge/Matthias Willerman in the NCAA semifinals on Sunday at Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla. Farah/Van't Hof will square off against another Ole Miss pair, fourth-seeded Jonas Berg/Erling Tveit, in the NCAA doubles title match at 12 p.m. CT on Monday (May 26).
The No. 2 seed in the doubles competition, Farah/Van't Hof now have racked up a 25-match win streak on the way into tomorrow's NCAA doubles final. No match this year has been as tight and unpredictable as today's semifinal, however. Both the USC and Ole Miss teams boasted powerful service games, broken only twice apiece in the entire match. The ferociously even play pushed the teams into a tiebreaker to decide each set.
The last tiebreak was the most furious of them all. The Trojans were up match point four times, only to see Ole Miss answer back each time. Ole Miss even went up 9-8 to stand within reach of the final, but a second-serve ace from Van't Hof pulled the tiebreak back even at 9-9. Again, USC would take the advantage, leading 10-9 for a fifth match point of the tiebreak, and again Ole Miss closed back in. One final push from the Trojans finally broke the cycle. Farah served out the final point to claim victory for USC, winning the tiebreaker 12-10 and securing the Trojans' ticket to the NCAA championship match.
The third set itself almost bent in Ole Miss' favor early, with ten Berge/Willerman getting up a break at 3-1 and later moving within reach of the match with a 5-2 lead. A clutch break from the Trojans came soon after, breathing new life into USC's game with a break of Ole Miss to make it 5-4. Van't Hof held serve next for the Trojans to even up the set 5-5 and set the Trojans on a path toward their heart-stopping tiebreak victory.
Farah/Van't Hof now hold a 38-3 overall record in doubles together this season as they set their focus on Monday's NCAA finals with their 25-match win streak in tow. The two Trojans are the first USC doubles finalists since 2000 and are making USC's ninth all-time appearance in the NCAA doubles championship match. The last USC pair to win the NCAA doubles championship was Byron Black and current USC volunteer assistant coach Eric Amend, who won the NCAA crown in 1989.
Live scoring of the NCAA Doubles Championship in Tulsa will be available online. CLICK HERE FOR LIVE SCORING
On the match:
USC sophomore Robert Farah
'Unbelievable. It's an amazing match to play and I'm glad I was a part of it. We were going to lose basically in the third set. We were 5-3, 30-love down with the big guy serving. The guys who I think we only had one break point. And to come out there and play the way we did and break that guy, it was unbelievable. In that breaker there were a lot of emotions, but thank god we could stay calm and close that match.'
USC senior Kaes Van't Hof
'Those guys played unbelievable and it's a miracle that we came out with that. We're down in the third, like Rob said, just trying to focus on doing the simplest things off their serve. It makes you feel like you're just starting the game when their serving at you. You feel like an amateur out there. Luckily we stayed solid on our serves most of the time. We played a lot of breakers and a lot of close points. It's a lot of nerve racking shots, especially knowing how big the other guys are serving on the other side. You just get tighter and tighter thinking about it.'
NCAA MEN'S DOUBLES
Michael D. Case Tennis Center (Tulsa, Okla.)
Round of 32 (Thurs., May 22)
(2) Farah/Van't Hof (USC) def. Corrie/Damico (Texas) - 6-4, 6-4
Round of 16 (Fri., May 23)
(2) Farah/Van't Hof (USC) def. Shields/Shields (Boise State) - 7-5, 4-6, 6-3
Quarterfinals (Sat., May 24)
(2) Farah/Van't Hof (USC) def. Connelly/Cunningham (Tulsa) - 6-3, 6-3
Semifinals (Sun., May 25)
(2) Farah/Van't Hof (USC) def. ten Berge/Willerman (Ole Miss) - 3:30 p.m. CT
Championship (Mon., May 26)
(2) Farah/Van't Hof (USC) vs. Berg/Tveit (Ole Miss) - 12 p.m. CT
NCAA MEN'S SINGLES
Michael D. Case Tennis Center (Tulsa, Okla.)
Round of 64 (Wed., May 21)
Kaes Van't Hof (USC) def. (2) Greg Oullette (Florida) - 6-4, 6-2
(6) Robert Farah (USC) def. David Goulet (Duke) - 6-2, 7-6 (4)
Round of 16 (Fri. May 23)
(9-16) Denes Lukacs (Baylor) def. (6) Robert Farah (USC) - 7-5, 6-3
TOMORROW | 5:00pm PTLive