CHAMPIONSHIP BOUND! MTennis Tops #1 Stanford!
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - They're going to the 'ship!!
Five-seed Arizona State topped one-seed and four-time tournament champion Stanford, 4-3, Sunday afternoon in a wild Pac-12 Men's Tennis Championship semifinal matchup that came down to freshman Max McKennon on court five. McKennon took his match down to the wire, winning in a 10-8 three-set tiebreak to hand No. 27 ASU its first win over the No. 23 Cardinal since the program's reinstatement ahead of the 2018 season, thus putting the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 Championship final for the first time in program history.
CHOP 'EM DOWN! ASU TAKES DOWN STANFORD AND IS CHAMPIONSHIP BOUND!!! pic.twitter.com/WoJDT9jXlR
— Sun Devil M. Tennis (@SunDevilMTennis) April 26, 2021
What's most remarkable about today's victory is that McKennon's only been back in the lineup for a little over two weeks. After kicking off the year 4-1 in doubles and 2-2 in singles, he injured his ankles in a freak accident and was in a wheelchair/recovering for the heart of the season.
"Super proud of Max for how he handled the moment there today," head coach Matt Hill said. "Timothy Sah has clinched a ton of those matches this year for Stanford. He's tough in those moments and he showed that again today and I thought Max managed it really well and stuck to what he knew would give him the best chance to win."
The Sun Devils are in the midst of a Cinderella run. Yesterday they took down four-seed No. 28 UCLA, an opponent they also haven't beaten since the program was brought back, and now the freshman from Newport Beach, Calif. forced another upset.
"Our guys have been doing a lot of good things throughout this season," Hill said. "We had a few small details that either didn't go our way, we or had a few details that we controlled but didn't manage that well, but there's so many good things we have been doing so it was just a matter of tweaking a few small details that helped swing things a different direction toward the end of the year. We were in these positions all year against some really great teams and some of those matches didn't fall our way but now they are and we're controlling matches better now."
ASU now turns its eyes to third-seeded No. 15 USC for the championship match Monday at 3 p.m. The match will be shown live on the Pac-12 Network and on the Pac-12 Now app. ASU and USC last met on March 28 in Tempe where the Trojans claimed a 6-1 victory. Tim Ruehl claimed the lone point for the Maroon and Gold with a 7-6, 6-4 victory at No. 3.
1) Geller/Kopczynski (STAN) d. Rakotomalala/Ruehl (ASU), 6-3
2) McKennon/Ponwith (ASU) led Boyer/Sah (STAN), 5-4 susp.
3) Fery/Rotsaert (STAN) d. Lerby/Stoupe (ASU), 6-2
Order of Finish: 3, 1
1) No. 95 Nathan Ponwith (ASU) d. No. 93 Axel Geller (STAN), 7-5, 6-4
2) No. 52 Arthur Fery (STAN) v. Makey Rakotomalala (ASU), 6-3, 7-5
3) Tim Ruehl (ASU) d. Alexandre Rotsaert (STAN), 7-5, 6-4
4) Tristan Boyer (STAN) d. George Stoupe (ASU), 6-1, 6-1
5) Max McKennon (ASU) d. Timothy Sah (STAN), 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (8)
6) Christian Lerby (ASU) d. Neel Rajesh (STAN), 6-0, 7-5
Order of Finish: 4, 6, 2, 3, 1, 5