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Jake Sands Claims Comeback Clincher In No. 9 USC Men’s Tennis’ 4-3 Victory Over No. 17 UCLA

Feb 28, 2021

WESTWOOD, CALIF. — In position for his first match-clinching victory of the year, junior Jake Sands showed no fear. Rather, he calmly claimed his crown as the hero of the day as he turned the tide for the No. 9 USC men's tennis team from court six, closing out a three-set comeback to notch a 4-3 victory for the Trojans over crosstown rival No. 17 UCLA today at Los Angeles Tennis Center. USC had led it 2-0 before the Bruins stole into the lead, leaving it up to Sands and freshman Lodewijk Weststrate to pull off three-set battles if the Trojans were to pull out the rivalry win. Both Trojans came through, lifting USC to victory and getting the Trojans to 10-3 overall on the year.

Thirty-five minutes deep into doubles action, USC boasted 5-4 advantages on all three courts. Soon after, the Trojans had pocketed the doubles point thanks to a 6-4 win from #1 Daniel Cukierman and Riley Smith over UCLA's Smith/Zahraj on court one followed by Sean Holt and Colter Smith's matching score on court three over Pereira/Rapp.

In singles, however, the Bruins dug in their heels. UCLA captured the first sets on all but one court. At the No. 4 spot, USC's Bradley Frye sizzled his way to a 6-2, 6-3 win over UCLA's #109 Sam Feit to pin a  2-0 lead on the board for the Trojans. But USC still had a good amount of singles ground to make up in order to bring home a win with first-set deficits to overcome on the other five courts. That pressure cranked up further when UCLA captured straight-set wins on the top two courts to tie things up 2-2. At the No. 2 spot, Drew Baird beat USC's #19 Riley Smith 6-3, 6-4 just before #10 Keegan Smith topped USC's #1 Daniel Cukierman 6-2, 7-5 at the top spot. 

UCLA would capture a third straight singles win to go ahead 3-2 when Ben Goldberg pushed past USC's #26 Mor Bulis for a 7-6 (5), 6-2 decision on court three.That left two Trojans aiming for third sets to get USC a shot at victory. On court five, USC freshman Lodewijk Weststrate battled back against Roscoe Bellamy to force a third set there. And while Weststrate was charging through his third set, teammate Jake Sands forced a third of his own on court six to keep USC alive. Weststrate's full-court press in the third drew the Trojans back even with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 comeback effort to beat Bellamy. That left Sands starting up his third set against Patrick Zahraj in the No. 6 slot to decide things. With all eyes on his court, Sands didn't flinch. The junior rallied out ahead of Zahraj 5-2 in the third, surrendered one more game and then closed things down in Westwood with his 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 clincher for the Trojan cause. 

The win was USC's second over UCLA this season, following a 4-1 win over the Bruins during ITA Kickoff Weekend action last month.

Next week, the Trojans are back at Marks Stadium to set up for a Friday (March 5) match against Pepperdine at 3 p.m.

#9 USC 4, #17 UCLA 3
Feb. 26, 2021 | Los Angeles Tennis Center (Westwood, Calif.)
(1) #1 Cukierman/R. Smith (USC) def. Smith/Zahraj (UCLA) -  6-4
(2) Bulis/Frye (USC) vs. Baird/Feit (UCLA) - 5-5 susp.
(3) Holt/C. Smith (USC) def. Pereiera/Rapp (UCLA) - 6-4
Order of finish: 3, 1
USC wins doubles points.
(1)  #10 Keegan Smith (UCLA) def. #1 Daniel Cukierman (USC) - 6-2, 7-5
(2) Drew Baird (UCLA) def. #19 Riley Smith (USC) - 6-3, 6-4
(3) Ben Goldberg (UCLA) def. #26 Mor Bulis (USC) - 7-6 (5), 6-2
(4) Bradley Frye (USC) def. #109 Sam Feit (UCLA) - 6-2, 6-3
(5) Lodewijk Weststrate (USC) def. Roscoe Bellamy (UCLA) - 5-7, 6-4, 6-0
(6) Jake Sands (USC) def. Patrick Zahraj (UCLA) - 5-7, 7-5, 6-3*
Order of finish: 4, 2, 1, 3, 5, 6*