NCAA Championships Day 4 Recap



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May 20, 2012

By Matthew Pearce

Tournament Central

ATHENS, Ga. --- Seventh seeded Pepperdine stunned hosts and the second seeded Georgia Bulldogs with a 4-3 victory that saw them advance to their first NCAA semi-final since 2006.

Pepperdine took what proved to be a decisive advantage early as they clinched the doubles point after Hugh Clarke and David Sofaer defeated the Georgia pairing of Wil Spencer and KU Singh 9-7.

Spencer would also suffer a crucial singles defeat to Sebastian Faneslow 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 after the Bulldogs player had taken a medical time out.

Faneslow’s victory tied the match 3-3 with only Alex Llompart and Sadio Doumbia left playing. After splitting the first two sets that were both decided by tiebreakers Llompert was able to win the point and the match with a 7-6(2), 6-7(2), 6-4 victory.

“Incredible. What a great college match. If you know me I’m not usually lost for words, but I’m a little bit,” Pepperdine head coach Adam Steinberg said. “I’m so proud of the guys. We’ve never really been in this situation with this team in front of a crowd like that and how they handled that. Coming out and winning the doubles point, I was so proud of them for that.”

The other singles victory for Pepperdine came from Jenson Turner while Georgia recorded wins by Ignacio Taboada, Singh and Nathan Pasha

“Pepperdine just played a great match. They really owned the big moments,” Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz said. “They brought the best tennis at the most important times.”

Fourth seeded UCLA used a second set tie breaker win from Adrien Puget to advance to the semi-finals of the NCAA Championships with a 4-2 victory over fifth seeded Ohio State.

Puget was involved in the Bruins winning doubles point as he and partner Alex Brigham defeated Ohio State’s Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola 8-6. The teams split the first two doubles matches with UCLA’s other win coming from Nick Meister and Dennis Novikov, Ohio State’s victory was courtesy of Connor Smith and Peter Kobelt.

“I feel like winning the doubles point was a huge motivator for our team, and it gave everyone a lot of confidence,” UCLA’s Alex Brigham said. “I feel it made everyone believe that we can achieve anything and overcome any hurdle that the occasion called for.”

Smith got the Buckeyes off to the perfect start in the singles as he recorded the first victory of the point with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Dennis Mkrtchian of UCLA. In the second singles match to finish Buchanan gave the Buckeyes a 2-1 lead as he defeated Clay Thompson 6-3, 6-3. After Ohio State gained the upper hand early UCLA booked their place in the semi-finals with wins by Dennis Novikov, Marcos Giron and Puget’s final winner.

“I thought after the doubles match, that he might be low on energy if his singles match went long,” UCLA head coach Billy Martin said. “He played someone who didn’t compete in the doubles match, and to me it can sometimes be a plus to not compete in the doubles match, with the heat, the intensity and the competitiveness of the NCAA tournament. I was a little worried about that but Adrien was able to keep his composure and shorten the points a little bit.”

Monday’s semi-final will be an all Los Angeles affair after top seeded Southern California defeated eighth seed Duke 4-1 inside Henry Field Stadium.

The Trojan’s Steve Johnson clinched both doubles and singles points to see southern California through to the final four.

Johnson and partner Roberto Quiroz defeated the Blue Devils duo of Henrique Cunha and Chris Mengel 8-4 to clinch the doubles point after Daniel Nguyen and Ray Sarmiento’s victory over David Holland and Fred Saba put the Trojans in position to clinch the point.

“I’m just extremely happy with how well we played,” Southern California head coach Peter Smith said. Duke is a good team, they’ve beaten us in the last two years and they have great coaching. I thought our guys really rose to the occasion.”

Nguyen recorded the first singles victory for the Trojans with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Duke’s Torsten Wietoska. Emilio Gomez then put USC on the brink of qualification with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Saba. Despite Duke’s Raphael Hemmeler beating Yannick Hanfmann 6-3, 6-4, Johnson clinched the match and USC’s place in the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Cunha.

On Monday Southern California will be playing for a place in their fourth consecutive NCAA final.

“I think there’s a certain mindset that you have to have. I was telling the team to not get caught up thinking ‘this is something’ or ‘this is nothing’. I think if you get caught up thinking about other things, it’s a mistake,” Smith said. “You have to just go out there and play tennis, and that’s what these guys are going to do the rest of their lives.”

The third seeded Virginia Cavaliers advanced to the semi-finals with a comfortable 4-0 win over the 11 seed Stanford Cardinal.

Having clinched the doubles point on a 9-8(2) tiebreaker by the team of Drew Courtney and Jarmere Jenkins the Cavaliers stormed through the singles match-ups winning five of the six first sets.

“I was pleased with the way the team played. We came out with a lot of energy and it was something that stayed with us throughout the entire match,” Virginia head coach Brian Boland said. “I thought we played an excellent match from start to finish and they played with great purpose, so I was pleased.”

The singles victories for the Cavaliers came from Mitchell Frank, Courtney and Justin Shane.

The Cavaliers semi-final appearance on Monday will be their fifth in six years.       

The official attendance for the men’s quarterfinals was 3,167.

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