May 20, 2014
Historic Programs Complete Championship Runs at Cathedral of Tennis
ATHENS, Ga.---Finals day was an exhibition of all that is good about college tennis, especially for the UCLA women's and Southern California men's teams as they clinched national championships Tuesday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The seventh-seeded Bruins were the first champions of the day as they managed to battle past a North Carolina team that almost scored an improbable comeback. The No.7 Tar Heels were on the back foot early as the Bruins grabbed the doubles point with wins at number two and one doubles to complete a perfect season in doubles for UCLA. Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips took the first match to end with a dominating 8-2 win. No.1 seeded doubles team Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady gave the Bruins the early 1-0 advantage with a 8-7(3) win over No.3 team Jamie Loeb and Hayley Carter.
Second-seeded Anderson defeated top seed Loeb 6-2, 6-2 at number one to extend the Bruins lead before Hayley Carter and Kate Vialle pulled the Tar Heels level with wins at numbers two (6-2, 6-2) and five (6-4, 6-4). Channelle Van Nguyen would then put UCLA in pole position with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 comeback victory at four before the match was levelled at 3-3 by UNC's Tessa Lyon's at number six.
From there the drama switched to number three as McPhillips battled Caroline Price in a three set decider. The Bruins McPhillips was able to put herself and her team on the brink of a national title but wasn't able to finish Price easily as they contested the final point for several minutes. Eventually, however, McPhillips was able to score the victory and ensure the national championship would head back west.
The seconded-seeded Sooners were able to capitalize early to score an early advantage as they clinched the doubles point against the No.1 Trojans. Alex Ghilea and Nick Papac put the Sooners in pole position before the number two duo of Guillermo Alcorta and Andrew Harris sealed Oklahoma's early advantage.
Despite entering the singles portion of the match down 1-0, USC quickly started making headway into the advantage and towards the school's 100th total national championship. After Dane Webb put the Sooners on top 2-0 it was all Trojans. Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento quickly struck back at numbers one and two by scores of 7-5, 6-2 and 6-4, 7-6(4) respectively.
As the action moved to `the pit Southern California began asserting their dominance as Eric Johnson put the Trojans within touching distance of their second national championship in three years. With both numbers four and six indicating a Trojan victory, the honor of clinching the championship fell to Max de Vroome at number four as he outlasted Andrew Harris 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to ensure the national championship trophies will reside in the city of Los Angeles.
Tuesday's Drop Shots
>>>Lucky No. 100
Southern California just won its 21st tennis national title, but it also becomes just the third school with 100 NCAA team titles. It trails cross-town rival UCLA (111) and Stanford (105). The Trojans 21 men's tennis titles are most by any school leading Stanford (17), UCLA (16) and Georgia (6).
"To do it with these guys is always special. You start with a group that I don't think anyone would have said would win the NCAAs back in September," said USC head coach Peter Smith. "It's a credit to them and how hard they worked. We've had so many great players, and it's amazing to now see a new group step up. They all stepped up. Winning one of these is so hard."
>>>A band in the stands
Smith said in the postgame press conference that Southern California sends the band to the sites when teams make the semifinals of national championship events.
But, when Smith looked into the stands Monday night, the band was nowhere in sight.
"I don't arrange it, but they weren't here yesterday. I was downplaying it with the team, but I was pissed," Smith said laughing. "When you win a national title, and the band plays the fight song, it's a pretty special feeling."
Smith said the band was late to Athens because it had a prior engagement. The band also played at the 2011 and 2012 championships.
>>>"This is the best site"
In the postgame awards ceremony, Oklahoma head coach John Roddick said that in his "unbiased opinion", the tennis championships should be held in Athens every year. Roddick both played and coached in Athens, however he wasn't the only one who had favorable opinions about Athens serving as the host.
"I think it's important to mix it up, but I certainly think every two or three years it should be here. This is the best site. It has the best town, it has the best fans and it has the best facility," Smith said. "It's a wonderful place to play, and the atmosphere the last two nights...I keep on saying special, but it's just different. They know what they're doing here, also."
Southern California has now won five national titles in Athens.
Georgia will host the NCAA Division-I Tennis Championships again in 2017.
Oklahoma entered the 2014 NCAA Tournament with just seven NCAA wins to its name in program history. It leaves the tournament with 12 after notching five wins en route to its runner-up performance.
"If you look back on our season, at the beginning, we were very top heavy, with four guys playing really well," said Roddick. "Our five and six were really not very good in February. We were able to win a lot of matches anyway, but I think those guys really pulling together, our top guys leading those guys in getting better, and all of the sudden you have a complete team. This is the first time we had a very complete team."