Farah And Van't Hof Win NCAA Doubles Championship

May 26, 2008

TULSA, OKLA. - USC's Robert Farah and Kaes Van't Hof made it an especially memorable Memorial Day today, capturing the 2008 NCAA Doubles Championship to become the first Trojans team since 1989 to win the national title. It was far from easy, as USC was up against Mississippi's top team of Jonas Berg/Erling Tveit in the title match on Monday at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla. The Trojans had pulled out a three-set battle against another Ole Miss pair in Sunday's semifinals, fighting through three tiebreaks to earn their place in today's final. The championship match presented a similar down-to-the-wire challenge, but this time USC's Farah/Van't Hof grabbed victory in two sets, winning 7-6 (10), 7-6 (6) to put the Trojans on record as the nation's best.

The powerful sophomore-senior combination of Farah and left-handed Van't Hof presented an overwhelming tandem for all comers, as the Trojans entered the NCAA doubles tournament as the No. 2 seed and took a 25-match winning streak into the championship match against fourth-seeded Berg/Tveit of Ole Miss. With the championship win, Farah and Van't Hof will go down in USC history as the 21st Trojan team to win a national doubles championship and fifth NCAA doubles champions. The last USC team to win an NCAA doubles title was Byron Black and current USC volunteer assistant coach Eric Amend in 1989. Amend was on-hand in Tulsa along with head coach Peter Smith and USC's West Region Assistant Coach of the Year Brett Smith to witness Farah and Van't Hof's rise to the 2008 NCAA title.

USC started the match right where it left off in yesterday's semifinal. It took an extended and hard-fought tiebreak for the Trojans to capture the first set. Several set points escaped USC early in the tiebreaker and swung to Mississippi's advantage twice at 6-7 and 8-9. Van't Hof's service got USC back up 10-9, and although Ole Miss tied it 10-10, the Trojans moved back on top and finally eked out the tiebreaker 12-10 to bring up the second set.

The first break of the match came at USC's expense as the Trojans got down a break 0-2 in the second set. But Farah/Van't Hof dished out a break to answer and lock the set back up 2-2 and the teams stayed on serve the rest of the way for another tiebreaker - USC's fifth straight tiebreaker of the tournament. All that tiebreak experience served the Trojans well. It wasn't easy, as USC went down set point a 5-6, but with Van't Hof at the service line USC pulled back even 6-6. The serve went back to Ole Miss, but the Trojans stayed focused and stormed to victory with an 8-6 decision in the tiebreaker to lock away the NCAA title with a 7-6 (10), 7-6 (6) win.

Farah/Van't Hof close out their stellar season both as NCAA and Pac-10 champions. The Trojans' 26-match winning streak carried them to the two titles, and leaves the pair with a 39-3 overall record on the year.


On the match...
Kaes Van't Hof
'I hate to beat a dead horse, but we got lucky to come out with some good points there. These guys serve so big, everybody we've played the last couple days have served well and covered the court well. It takes away our returns, which is normally our strength. Those guys served us smart and we came up with a couple big returns at the right times in the breakers and made sure we closed the middle at the right time on the breaker. Ended up serving it out, actually breaking it out in the second set. It's one of those doubles matches at a high level where one or two points here or there, you just got to keep doing the right thing and eventually it pays off.'

On coming into the second set...
Robert Farah
'They hit two lucky shots during the game, one hit the net and the other one was sleepy and we just came out from a good breaker. We never lost hope. It was 1-0 and they still had to hold five times and our returns are pretty good, they are our strength. Tveit didn't hold his serve, he couldn't make his first serves and we took advantage of that and we got the break back, we were back in the game.'

Kaes Van't Hof
'I think the second set was a lot better doubles than the first set. The second set had a lot more points. You had to come up with shots more often. Whereas the first set we were both kind of still feeling out the match. It's tough when you see guys serve once every four games. You don't get a read on it. You think he's going to do something, you think he has a tendency and he ends up not having it. The second set we started making more balls and better tennis, so we had a better chance to break.'

On playing two breakers after playing three in their previous match...
Kaes Van't Hof
'I was a lot more calm in breakers today. If those were the first breakers of the tournament today, I would have been a little tighter than I was after playing three gutwrenching, almost heartbreaking breakers yesterday.'

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) - 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (10)

Championship (Mon., May 26)
(2) Farah/Van't Hof (USC) def. Berg/Tveit (Ole Miss) - 7-6 (10), 7-6 (6)

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 32 (Thurs., May 22)
J.P. Smith (Tennessee) def. Kaes Van't Hof (USC) - 6-3, 6-1
(6) Robert Farah (USC) def. Ryan Rowe (Illinois) - 2-6, 6-0, 7-6 (5)

Round of 16 (Fri. May 23)
(9-16) Denes Lukacs (Baylor) def. (6) Robert Farah (USC) - 7-5, 6-3