NCAA men's tennis: Marcos Giron sends UCLA to national championship match


The push for title No. 17 is still alive for UCLA men's tennis, even if it took a little longer than originally thought. Marcos Giron eked out a 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over No. 8 singles player Peter Kobelt on court 2, and No.1 UCLA squeezed past No. 5 Ohio State 4-3 to advance to the finals of the NCAA Championships.

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Things had been going swimmingly for UCLA all tournament long, as the top-seeded Bruins had yet to give up a match all NCAA tourney (in the famous words of Moses Malone, it had been "fo', fo', fo' (and another fo')". The bout with the Buckeyes started much in the same way, as the Bruins cruised to the doubles point with 8-3 and 8-4 victories. It was an especially big day for Giron and especially disappointing one for Kobelt, as the team of Giron and Pac-12 Player of the Year Dennis Novikov took down Kobelt and Connor Smith to clinch the doubles point.

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Despite giving up the first point of any kind this postseason when Ohio State's Devin McCarthy handled UCLA's Dennis Mkrtchian 6-1, 6-3 to cut UCLA's lead to 2-1, UCLA still appeared to be in cruise control after Karue Sell finished off Constantin Christ in No. 6 singles 6-4, 7-6(5).

[Related: UCLA claims Pac-12 Championship with win over rival USC]

That's when the tide started to turn: Connor Smith evened things up for himself by besting Adrien Puget on court 3, Blaz Rola defeated Novikov in No. 1 singles in three sets, and all of a sudden it came down to the second Giron-Kobelt tussle of the day. By the time court 2 became Game 7, Giron and Kobelt were already well into their third set. Giron grabbed a 5-4 lead and broke Kobelt's serve with match point coming on a double fault that was surely the result of pure exhaustion on Kobelt's part. Jubilation ensued:

UCLA's triumph over the Buckeyes sets up the ultimate clash of the titans: No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 2 and undefeated Virginia for the NCAA title. Can the Cavaliers finally break through after finishing as the NCAA runners-up in 2011 and 2012, or will the Bru Cru be able to snag their first natty since 2005? Find out Tuesday at 11 a.m. PT.

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