May 22, 2012
By Matthew Pearce
ATHENS, Ga. --- Despite a rainstorm that forced the two men's semifinals indoors the NCAA tournament saw the top seeds in both men's and women's competition advance to Tuesday's championship matches.
The men's top seed Southern California advanced to the championship match with a 4-1 win over fourth seed UCLA.
Before the rain came the Trojans took the doubles point thanks to wins from the teams of Steve Johnson and Roberto Quiroz and Daniel Nguyen and Ray Sarmiento.
Johnson and Quiroz gave USC the early advantage as they won the first doubles match over Alex Brigham and Adrien Puget by a score of 8-6. UCLA leveled the point after the Bruin pair of Marcos Giron and Warren Hardie recorded an 8-4 win over Emilio Gomez and Yannick Hanfmann.
Nguyen would then be involved in his first clinching match of the evening as he and Sarmiento defeated Nick Meister and Dennis Novikov 9-8 on a tiebreaker.
Shortly after the beginning of the singles points the match was halted due to lightening in the area. That lightening turned to rain and the match was moved indoors.
After moving to the indoor courts Johnson and Sarmiento quickly but the Trojans up 3-0, Johnson defeating UCLA's Clay Thompson 6-1, 6-1 and Sarmiento beating Meister by the same score.
After Giron pulled a point back for UCLA as he defeated Gomez 6-3, 6-4, Nguyen clinched the match winning the contests only three set match on a tiebreaker as he beat Novikov 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).
"The people got their money's worth. That was a long evening and an amazing match," USC head coach Peter Smith said. "UCLA showed a lot of heart. We had two guys come out and play incredible tennis (Johnson and Sarmiento). And we had one guy play incredibly clutch in (Daniel Nguyen). It was pretty special."
USC will play the third seed Virginia Cavaliers in the championship match after it defeated seventh seed Pepperdine 4-1. The match was also completed indoors.
Virginia claimed the doubles point still on the McWhorter Courts winning the first two matches to complete by scores of 8-4. Justin Shane and Ian Uriguen were the first pair to clinch victory defeating the Pepperdine duo of Sebastian Fanselow and Jenson Turner. This was followed by Alex Domijan and Mitchell Frank clinching the point with a win over Hugh Clarke and David Sofaer.
After the move inside Domijan started the singles point for Virginia with a victory beating Finn Tearney 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 before Fanselow pulled a point back for Pepperdine with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Jarmere Jenkins.
Mitchell Frank put the Cavaliers on the brink of the championship match with a 7-6(3), 6-2 win over Alex Llompart before Drew Courtney clinched Virginia's place in Tuesdays final with a 7-6(3), 6-2 victory against Pepperdine's Mousheg Hovhannisyan.
"It was a great match. Certainly, we were well tested," Virginia head coach Brian Boland said. "Pepperdine has a great team and I was pleased with how the guys fought from start to finish."
In the women's semi-finals top seed UCLA advanced to its first NCAA championship match since 2008 defeating fifth seed Southern California 4-3 inside Henry Field stadium. The Bruins took an early lead in the match, comfortably winning the doubles point with decisive wins on courts one and two.
The Bruins duo of Robin Anderson and Skylar Morton won the first doubles game for UCLA defeating Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamarina 8-3. UCLA wrapped up the point with a victory from Courtney Dolehide and Pamela Montez as they beat the Trojan's Valeria Pulido and Zoe Scandalis 8-4.
Southern California took a 3-2 lead in singles play taking three of the first four singles matches. The Trojans got victories from Pulido, Santamarina and Gabriella DeSimone while Morton picked up UCLA's first singles victory.
The match was decided on courts one and two where UCLA's Robin Anderson tied the match 3-3 on court one with a 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 win over the Trojans Scandalis. The Bruins clinched their place in the championship match after McCall Jones defeated USC's Danielle Lao 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
"We did a great job in doubles coming out strong and having good starts and getting that doubles point which was really important to us," UCLA head coach Sally Sampras Webster said. "Going into singles, we knew we had to play three more matches. I'm really proud of my team. They stayed within themselves and were able to battle through this."
Second seed Florida ensured the championship match will be a meeting of the top two seeds after it defeated third seed Duke 4-3 in Monday's other semi-final.
Like the Bruins, Florida also took the doubles point thanks to a tiebreaker winner from the duo of Lauren Embree and Joanna Mather who defeated the team of Beatrice Capra and Rachel Kahan 9-8(1). The victory came after the teams split the first two doubles matches.
Florida's other doubles win came from Sofie Oyen and Allie Will who defeated Duke's Mary Clayton and Ester Goldfield 8-3, while the Blue Devils picked up a victory courtesy of Hanna Mar and Monica Gorny's 8-4 win over Alex Cercone and Caroline Hitimana.
As with the singles matches in the first semi-final Florida and Duke played all six matches with five of them going to three sets. The deciding victory came from Alex Cercone who, after losing the first set to Duke's Mary Clayton, came back to clinch the match 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
The Gators received their other singles victories from Embree, who defeated Duke's Ester Goldfield 6-4, 6-1 and Mather who beat Mar 2-6, 6-2, 6-0. The Blue Devils singles victories came from Beatrice Capra, Rachel Kahan and Monica Turewicz.
Capra beat Will 6-4, 6-4, Kahan defeated Oyen 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 and Turewicz recorded her victory over Olivia Janowicz 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
"I don't know how we won that match. We found a way on doubles. I like the way we have played at the end of doubles matches so far," Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist said. "Starting at the SEC tournament and through this tournament, we've been very good at the end of doubles making the right decisions. Today was no different. That was the difference. In retrospect, we needed it."
The official attendance for the fifth day of the NCAA championships was 1,432.