NCAA Men's Tennis Championships: USC, UCLA set up quarterfinals showdown
Two teams left, two teams still standing from the Pac-12 in the 2018 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. With both USC and UCLA locking up victories in the round of 16, the two Los Angeles rivals will face each other Sunday morning at 9 a.m. PT. Here's how each squad advanced to the national quarterfinals.
USC 4, North Carolina 2
Despite playing indoors in front of a partisan crowd from nearby Chapel Hill, the Trojans upset No. 7 seed North Carolina to help lock up the 12th 20-win season under coach Peter Smith. USC started off fast, taking the doubles point with victories by Jack Jaede/Laurens Verboven over Bo Boyden/Benjamin Sigouin (6-4) and Daniel Cukierman/Tanner Smith over Mac Kiger/Anu Kodali (7-6 (3)).
The Tar Heels bounced back once single play commenced, evening things up overall at 1-1 as William Blumberg downed USC's Brandon Holt 6-3, 6-0 on court 1. But the Trojan junior Verboven immediately redirected momentum back to the squad from Los Angeles, fighting through a tough first set to defeat Robert Kelly 7-5, 6-4 on court 4. UNC responded yet again with Kiger's 6-4, 6-4 win over Riley Smith.
With things all knotted up at two, the match would be decided by a pair of seesaw battles. The Trojans' Cukierman pulled out a win on court 2 over Sigouin with a pair of tiebreaks, 7-5, 7-6 (2). Senior Thibault Forget then closed things out, surviving a three-set thriller with Boyden 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
— USC Men's Tennis (@USCMensTennis) May 18, 2018
UCLA 4, Michigan 2
The Bruins are headed to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the 23rd time in the last 25 seasons with a 4-2 win over the Wolverines. The match was delayed due to rain and moved indoors onto the North Carolina campus, but that didn't faze Billy Martin's crew. They took the doubles point with wins on court 1 (Martin Redlicki/Evan Zhu over Myles Schalet/Connor Johnston 6-4) and court 3 (Maxime Cressy/Bryce Pereira over Alex Knight/Harrison Brown 6-4).
UCLA's momentum continued into singles play with two consecutive victories. Redlicki got the best of Knight 6-4, 6-2 on court 1, while the Bruins' Cressy downed Carter Lin 6-3, 6-4.
On the brink of elimination, Michigan made a stand as Mattias Slimar's 6-2, 6-4 victory over Logan Staggs was followed up by Runhao Hua's 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 win over Zhu. With the Bruins still clinging to a 3-2 overall lead, Keegan Smith clinched the match with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 over Schalet.
Bruins are elite!
— UCLA Men's Tennis (@uclatennis) May 18, 2018