Trojans Take Down Top Seed In NCAA Quarters

May 17, 2009

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS - The USC men's tennis team refused to allow delays, rains, wind and an undefeated Virginia team shake its focus on an NCAA Quarterfinal upset, as the No. 8 Trojans shocked the top-seeded Cavaliers with a 4-0 sweep at Texas A&M's. George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. USC's winning effort began on Saturday, but the finishing touches came on Sunday thanks to a singles surge by the Trojans capped by a three-set clincher from senior Abdullah Magdas. USC now takes a 23-5 overall record into the NCAA Semifinals against No. 12 Texas at 1 p.m. CT on Monday (May 18) in College Station, Texas.

USC's last match against the Cavaliers had been a 4-1 loss in the 2007 NCAA Quarterfinals. This year, Virginia was rolling along on an undefeated run through the 2009 season until coming up against the Trojans. Today, USC followed up Saturday's doubles point with straight-set wins at the top two slots by Robert Farah and Steve Johnson before Abdullah Magdas third-set heroics sealed the deal on the Trojans' upset win and subsequent ticket to tomorrow's semifinals. USC's last appearance in the NCAA semis was in 2004 with a loss to Baylor in Tulsa, Okla., and its last NCAA Championship win was in 2002 in College Station.

The USC-Virginia NCAA Quarterfinal match had initially begun on Saturday (May 17), with the Trojans snagging the doubles point before rains interrupted competition. In the tense doubles point, USC prevailed with a tiebreaker win on court two to secure the early advantage before lightning warnings cleared the stadium in the early stages of singles play. Heavy rain has followed, putting the continuation of competition up in the air for the day.Still, USC has in its hands a big early boost with the doubles point on the board for the Trojans. At the No. 3 slot, USC's Matt Kecki / Jaak Poldma moved ahead with a break that gave the Trojans a 5-4 lead, and the pair pushed on with some strong service games and one last break of the Cavaliers for an 8-5 win. At the No. 1 and No. 2 position, the Trojans and the Cavaliers were battling. Just moments apart, both USC teams were able to get a break on their respective UVA opponents. For #59 Abdullah Magdas / Daniel Nguyen at No. 2, the break breathed new life into their match, pulling things even at 4-4. On court one, the break had similar effect for Robert Farah / Steve Johnson, tying things at 5-5. Johnson would hold on his next serve, but Virginia answered with a powerful run that lifted the Cavaliers past the Trojans, as #12 Inglot/Shabaz managed an 8-6 win over USC's #4 Farah/Johnson to leave the deciding match at No. 2.The No. 2 doubles match see-sawed, with the Trojans getting a 6-4 lead before the Cavaliers broke USC back twice to eventually pull ahead 8-7 for a chance to serve out the match. But Magdas/Nguyen persevered and snapped UVA's Courtney/Singer's momentum with a break to force a tiebreaker. There, the Trojans marched to a 5-0 lead. And although the Cavaliers closed in from 6-3 to 6-5, Nguyen went to the service line and anchored USC through match point to claim a 9-8 (5) win and a big doubles point for the Trojans.

Singles play resumed in a morning start today, with most matches on serve and no more than three games in. Amidst swirling winds, USC's #8 Robert Farah got up an early break against Virginia's high-powered #14 Dominic Inglot in both sets and remained in control on the way to a 6-3, 6-1 victory that put the Trojans up 2-0 in the match. Freshman #53 Steve Johnson was the first Trojan to get through his first set, topping #26 Sanam Singh 6-3 with a four-game run. Johnson got a 4-0 lead in the second and managed to push through a late Singh comeback attempt to boost USC up 3-0 with a 6-3, 6-4 decision.

The clinching match for USC was up in the air between Magdas' third-set push at No. 4 and a second-set tiebreaker that USC freshman Matt Kecki was rallying through. Kecki had taken the first set 6-3 and had come back from a 2-5 deficit to get into the deciding tiebreaker against Drew Courtney at the No. 5 position. Magdas would interrupt all that, however, as the senior shook off his loss in the first set with a strong second set to go to a third. There, #106 Magdas went up 5-1 and sidestepped UVA's #70 Houston Barrick's break and hold to serve out the match for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 decision that iced the upset win for the Trojans.

Magdas' clincher suspended singles play for Kecki in the second-set tiebreaker, along with Jaak Poldma's lead in the third set on court three and a Virginia advantage over Daniel Nguyen at No. 6.

NCAA QUARTERFINALSMay 16, 2009 - College Station, Texas
#8 USC 4, #1 Virginia 0
(1) #12 Inglot/Shabaz (UVA) def. #4 Farah/Johnson (USC) - 8-6
(2) #59 Magdas/Nguyen (USC) def. Barrick/Singh (UVA) - 9-8 (5)*
(3) Kecki/Poldma (USC) def. Courtney/Singer (UVA) - 8-5
Order of finish: 3, 1, 2
USC wins doubles point.
(1) #8 Robert Farah (USC) def. #14 Dominic Inglot (UVA) - 6-3, 6-1
(2) #53 Steve Johnson (USC) def. #26 Sanam Singh (UVA) - 6-3, 6-4
(3) #81 Jaak Poldma (USC) vs. #27 Michael Shabaz (UVA) - 7-5, 4-6, 4-1 susp.
(4) #106 Abdullah Magdas (USC) def. #70 Houston Barrack (UVA) - 4-6, 6-2, 6-3*
(5) Matt Kecki (USC) vs. Drew Courtney (UVA) - 6-3, 6-6 (2-0 susp.)
(6) Daniel Nguyen (USC) vs. #90 Lee Singer (UVA) - 6-7 (4), 2-5 susp.
Order of finish: 1, 2, 4

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