No. 4 USC Men Edged By No. 12 UCLA

April 16, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The No. 4 USC men's tennis team took another frustrating Pac-10 loss to crosstown rival UCLA on Friday at Marks Stadium, edged out 4-3 by the No. 12 Bruins for the Trojans' first loss in conference play this year. UCLA has managed to snag the Pac-10 win over USC for six straight seasons now, and it took another nailbiting battle between the Trojans and the Bruins to decide this year's conference clash. The loss may have marred USC's Pac-10 record, but the Trojans still hold the rights to the Pac-10 championship, which they would end up sharing with Stanford if the Cardinal can beat Cal tomorrow to close out conference competition. A Stanford loss tomorrow would leave the Trojans as the outright Pac-10 champions. USC finishes the regular season with a 19-3 overall record and a 5-1 Pac-10 record. UCLA moves to 14-6, 4-2.

The doubles point became a cliffhanger after USC's #5 Farah/Johnson captured an 8-5 win on court one over UCLA's #19 Inbar/Meister. While the Trojans battled from down break point to claim the opening win at No. 1, both the remaining doubles clashes pushed into tiebreakers. On court two, #61 Nguyen/Sundling fought out of a 2-5 hole by rattling off four straight games to take a 6-5 lead, but UCLA's Abid/Brooklyn forced things back even as the teams stayed on serve to bring up the tiebreak. No one would lead by more than a point until two USC shots were called long by the Bruins and Abid/Brooklyn got up 6-4. USC cut back to tie it up on strong net play, but the Bruins pulled out an 8-6 win in the tiebreaker to level things with a 9-8 (6) decision on court two. That brought the decider to court three, where an even match again went to a tiebreaker. USC played catchup almost throughout, with Jaak Poldma pulling it even 5-5 from the service line. Once again, UCLA caught the late advantage and worked ahead for the win, as Brigham/Seguso won it 9-8 (5) to clinch the first point of the match for the Bruins.

Staring at a 1-0 hole for just the third time this year, the Trojans had their work cut out for them in singles. Neither team looked secure in any advantage in the match, and USC was consistently in comeback mode as the Trojans never led throughout. A powerful 6-1, 6-0 win from #7 Robert Farah over #56 Nick Meister on court one lifted USC even with UCLA 1-1 early. But at the No. 5 position, UCLA's #72 Amit Inbar posted a 6-2, 6-1 win over USC's #125 Peter Lucassen, and the Bruins were again in the lead. On court two, #2 Steve Johnson shoved off #55 Matt Brooklyn's attempts to close in and locked up the match 2-2 with the Trojan sophomore's 6-2, 6-3 victory.

The match continued to hang perilously in the balance from there, with three-set matches extending on three courts. A heroic effort from USC's #100 Jaak Poldma pushed his match into a third set after the Trojan junior had trailed 5-2 in the second set. All Poldma's efforts to ring up a second-set win and take a 3-0 lead in the third took a toll on his legs, and although Poldma admirably finished out his match, it was UCLA's #52 Haythem Abid who was able to pull ahead and get the win 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. That score lifted the Bruins up 3-2, but the Trojans were not done. On court four, USC's #88 Daniel Nguyen shrugged off a second-set slip and peeled out to a 5-1 lead in the third set. UCLA's Holden Seguso dug in and fought back to cut the lead to 5-4, but Nguyen held strong and closed down the win to tie it up again with his 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 decision. That pushed all eyes to court six, where senior Jason McNaughton had pulled out a late break in the second set and went on to rally in a tiebreaker to bring up the deciding third set. McNaughton got up a break early on UCLA's Maxime Tabatruong, but McNaughton's 4-1 lead dissipated when Tabatruong toughened up and cut down on mistakes. Tabatruong's efforts carried him past McNaughton and on to victory, as UCLA claimed the victory on Tabaruong's 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4 win that shut things down at Marks Stadium.

Next up for the Trojans is individual singles and doubles action at the Pac-10 Championships in Ojai, Calif. The tournament kicks off on Thursday (April 22) and runs until Sunday (April 25).

#12 UCLA 4, #4 USC 3
April 16, 2010 - Marks Stadium
(1) #5 Farah/Johnson (USC) def. #19 Inbar/Meister (UCLA) - 8-5
(2) Abid/Brooklyn (UCLA) def. #61 Nguyen/Sundling (USC) - 9-8 (6)
(3) Brigham/Seguso (UCLA) def. Lucassen/Poldma (USC) - 9-8 (5)
UCLA wins doubles point.
Order of finish: 1, 2, 3
(1) #7 Robert Farah (USC) def. #56 Nick Meister (UCLA) - 6-1, 6-0
(2) #2 Steve Johnson (USC) def. #55 Matt Brooklyn (UCLA) - 6-2, 6-3
(3) #52 Haythem Abid (UCLA) def. #100 Jaak Poldma (USC) - 6-3, 5-7, 6-3
(4) #88 Daniel Nguyen (USC) def. Holden Seguso (UCLA) - 6-3, 1-6, 6-4
(5) #97 Amit Inbar (UCLA) def. #125 Peter Lucassen (USC) - 6-2, 6-1
(6) Maxime Tabatruong (UCLA) def. Jason McNaughton (USC) - 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4*
Order of finish: 1, 5, 2, 3, 4, 6*

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