It’ll be an SEC versus Big 12 kind of day on Friday after a pair of schools from those two conferences advanced to the NCAA Semifinals.
By far and away the thriller of the day was the showdown between defending national champion No. 4 Texas and Pac-12 Tournament Champion No. 12 USC.
Going into Thursday’s matches, Texas was the only team that had managed to come back after dropping the doubles point but the Horns knew they didn’t want to attempt that feat again against a deep USC’s singles lineup.
USC got off to a good start in doubles and went up early breaks on 1 and 2 while the match at 3 stayed on serve.
USC’s Bradley Frye and Stefan Dostanic broke Cleeve Harper’s serve on the deciding point to go up 1-0 and the Trojans duo would maintain the break lead the rest of the way and would go on to win 6-2.
In the match at No 3 doubles, Texas’s Micah Braswell and Peyton Holden fought off a pair of break points on Braswell’s 2-3 service game and then they’d have three break points of their own when Ryder Jackson was serving at 4-4 (15/40). Jackson and his doubles partner Jake Sands fought off the first two to bring up a deciding point but a bad Jackson double fault gifted the break to the Horns. Braswell served it out from 40/15 to give Texas the 6-4 win.
The deciding match at No. 1 would come down to a tiebreak after Texas’s Siem Woldeab and Eliot Spizzirri erased an early 4-2 deficit. Woldeab and Spizzirii jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak and would go on to win it 7-4.
Each team took three opening sets in singles but only two would finish in straight sets.
Micah Braswell extended Texas’s lead to 2-0 after a 6-4, 6-3 win over Riley Smith at No. 2. Braswell jumped out to an early double-break 4-1 lead in the opening set but Smith would break on the deciding point and then come back from 0/40 down to hold on the deciding point for 4-3. Braswell fought off a pair of break points to hold for 5-3 and then two games later he served out the set at love to take it 6-4. Braswell earned the first break of the second set to go up 3-2 and he’d add one more in the final game of the match to close it out.
The score wouldn’t stay 2-0 for long because less than two minutes later Jake Sands would put USC on the board with a straight set win over Evin McDonald at No. 6. After an exchange of breaks in the the 2-2 and 3-2 service games, Sands would break McDonald from 30/40 to go up 5-4 and then he served out the opening set from 40/15 to take it 6-4. In the second set, McDonald opened up a 3-0 lead but Sands held, broke, and held to even it at 3-3. After an exchange of holds, Sands broke McDonald on the deciding point and then served it out from 40/30 to win 6-4, 6-4.
The other four matches all split sets but the third set would go quickly in the match at No. 1 between USC’s Daniel Cukierman and Texas’s Eliot Spizzirri. Cukierman took the opening set 6-4 before Spizzirri rallied to take the second 6-2. Spizzirri held serve to start the third set but then Cukierman took the next six games, including the two that reached the deciding point, to close it out 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.
Chih Chi Huang put Texas back in the lead with a 6-2, 0-6, 6-3 win over Lodewijk Weststrate at No. 5. After Weststrate won all four deciding points in the second set, it’d be Huang that would win all the big ones in the final set. Huang broke Weststrate from 30/40 to start the third set and then he’d fight off two break points to hold for 3-1. After Weststrate held for 2-3, Huang fought off another break point to hold for 4-2. Huang would add one break, from 15/40 in the final game of the match, with Weststrate double faulting at both 0/30 and on the final point of the match. In the regular season meeting on February 13th, Weststrate had defeated Huang 6-0, 6-1 so this was a court USC was counting on.
Texas had the momentum but it quickly shifted back to USC and it seemed like the Trojans were possibly just minutes away from closing it out.
Five minutes after Huang’s win at No. 5, USC’s Stefan Dostanic would close out Siem Woldeab at No. 3. After a pair of 6-4 sets, Woldeab went in front 3-1 in the final set and was then serving at 3-2 40/0 when the wheels came off. Dostanic won the next eight points to break and then hold for 4-3. Dostanic broke Woldeab from 30/40 to go up 5-3 and then he served it out with a deciding point hold to win 6-2, 0-6, 6-3.
The deciding match at No. 4 between Texas’s Cleeve Harper and USC’s Bradley Frye was early in the third set and Frye had a golden opportunity to take a lead. Frye had four break points with Harper serving at 1-2 (0/40) but the UT sophomore from Calgary would come back to hold for 2-2. Frye went up 40/30 in the next game but Harper won the next two points to break for 3-2. Frye broke back from 15/40 and then held from 40/30 to take a 4-3 lead. Harper fought off a break point with crucial hold on the deciding point for 4-4 and then Frye fought off two break points to hold for 5-4. Harper was serving to stay in the match but he didn’t show any sign of nerves and held at love for 5-5. After Frye went up 30/15 in the next game, Harper won the next three points to break for 6-5 and then he served it out from 40/15 to start the celebration.
#4 Texas 4, #12 USC 3
5/20/2021 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
1. #49 Daniel Cukierman (USC) def. #23 Eliot Spizzirri (UT) 6-4, 2-6, 6-1
2. #38 Micah Braswell (UT) def. #52 Riley Smith (USC) 6-4, 6-3
3. #116 Stefan Dostanic (USC) def. #75 Siem Woldeab (UT) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
4. #108 Cleeve Harper (UT) def. Bradley Frye (USC) 6-4, 3-6, 7-5
5. Chih Chi Huang (UT) def. Lodewijk Weststrate (USC) 6-2, 0-6, 6-3
6. Jake Sands (USC) def. Evin McDonald (UT) 6-4, 6-4
1. #11 Siem Woldeab/Eliot Spizzirri (UT) def. #10 Daniel Cukierman/Colter Smith (USC) 7-6 (7-4)
2. Bradley Frye/Stefan Dostanic (USC) def. #78 Cleeve Harper/Chih Chi Huang (UT) 6-2
3. Micah Braswell/Payton Holden (UT) def. Jake Sands/Ryder Jackson (USC) 6-4
USC 23-7; National ranking #12
Texas 24-5; National ranking #4
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (2,6,1,5,3,4)
In the opening match of the day No. 3 Tennessee came back from an early 1-0 deficit to defeat No. 11 Georgia 4-1.
Georgia got off to a great start in doubles and went up early leads at 2 and 3 while Tennessee sprinted out to a lead on 1. All three doubles courts would finish within a minute of each with Tennessee winning 6-3 on 1 while Georgia would win 6-3 on 2 and 6-2 on 3.
Georgia got off to a fast start in singles as well and had break leads on 4 courts, with possibly a chance to take 5 opening sets, but Tennessee was able to get back in a few and the teams ended up each claiming three opening sets.
Tennessee’s Adam Walton put the first point on the board for the Vols with a straight set win over Trent Bryde at No. 1 singles. The pivotal sequence in the opening set came when Walton was serving at 3-4 (15/40). Walton fought off all three break points to hold for 4-4 and then after Bryde went up 30/0 on his 4-4 service game Walton came back to break on the deciding point to go up 5-4. Walton served out the set at love to take it 6-4. The second set stayed on serve until Walton broke Bryde at love to go ahead 4-3. Walton held serve two more times to close it out 6-4, 6-4.
About 5 minutes later Johannus Monday would give Tennessee the lead with a straight set win over Tyler Zink at No. 2. Zink broke Monday to start the match and maintained the break lead until Monday broke on the deciding point to even it at 4-4. The opening set would end up in a tiebreak and after falling behind 2-1, Monday would rattle off 5 straight points before closing it out 7-3. In the second set Monday broke Zink’s 2-2 service game from 15/40 and then he only dropped two points on his serve the rest of the way to win it 7-6, 6-4.
It looked like the match at No. 6 singles was going to be headed to a third set because after Tennessee’s Andrew Rogers took the first set 6-3 he fell behind Erik Grevelius 5-1 in the second set. However Rogers would storm back to win 24 of the next 32 points en route to winning the next six games to close it out 6-3, 7-5.
Tennessee had the finish line in sights because Luca Wiedenmann was up a break late in the third set against Blake Croyder at No. 4 singles. Croyder took the opening set 6-4 before Wiedenmann rolled 6-2 in the second. Croyder broke Wiedenmann from 30/40 to start the third set but Wiedenmann broke back on the deciding point to even it at 1-1. It stayed on serve until Wiedenmann broke Croyder from 15/40 to go in front 5-3 and then Wiedenmann calmly served it out at love to send the Vols back the semifinals for the first time since 2010.
Georgia was leading on the other two courts which both went unfinished.
#3 Tennessee 4, #11 Georgia 1
5/20/2021 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
1. #10 Adam Walton (TENN) def. #15 Trent Bryde (GA) 6-4, 6-4
2. #8 Johannus Monday (TENN) def. #27 Tyler Zink (GA) 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
3. #41 Martim Prata (TENN) vs. #19 Philip Henning (GA) 3-6, 6-6 (3-3), unfinished
4. Luca Wiedenmann (TENN) def. Blake Croyder (GA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
5. Billy Rowe (GA) vs. #92 Giles Hussey (TENN) 6-2, 2-6, *2-0, unfinished
6. Andrew Rogers (TENN) def. Erik Grevelius (GA) 6-3, 7-5
1. #4 Adam Walton/Pat Harper (TENN) def. #7 Trent Bryde/Tyler Zink (GA) 6-3
2. #54 Billy Rowe/Blake Croyder (GA) def. Johannus Monday/Martim Prata (TENN) 6-3
3. Philip Henning/Erik Grevelius (GA) def. Giles Hussey/Mark Wallner (TENN) 6-2
Georgia 17-7; National ranking #11
Tennessee 28-3; National ranking #3
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (1,2,6,4)
Second-seeded Baylor advanced to its first semifinal since 2015 with a 4-1 win over Big 12 rival No. 7 TCU. This was the fourth meeting of the season between these two and for the third time Baylor came away with the doubles point. TCU won 6-2 at No. 1 but Baylor won 6-3 at No. 2 and then secured the point with a 7-6(5) win at No. 3. Baylor’s No. 3 team of Finn Bass and Charlie Broom fought off a match point when Bass was serving at 5-6 (40/40).
Despite having Sander Jong available to play in doubles, TCU wouldn’t have him in singles which meant for the second match in a row everyone from 4 down was forced to play up a spot in the lineup.
Baylor took four opening sets in singles despite TCU at one point having a lead on all but two courts.
BU’s Sven Lah was the first off the court with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Jake Fearnley at No. 3. Lah’s return game was on fire with the junior from Slovenia breaking Fearnley’s serve five times.
Tadeas Paroulek gave TCU it’s only point and narrowed the Baylor lead to 2-1 after a 6-2, 6-4 win over Charlie Broom at No. 5. Paroulek and Broom had split regular season meetings but this one was all Paroulek.
Matias Soto put the Bears within a point of the clinch after a solid 6-4, 6-4 win over Luc Fomba at No. 2. The only break of serve in the first set came when Soto broke Fomba on the deciding point, via a double fault. In the second set, after dropping the first two games Fomba won the next four to take a 4-2 lead. Soto came back with a hold from 40/15, a love break, a deciding point hold, and a break from 15/40 to close it out.
Baylor had the finish line in its sights and it’d be Spencer Furman, the graduate transfer from Duke, who’d close the door on TCU’s season with a straight set win at No. 6. Furman trailed Bertus Kruger 5-2 in the first set but would fight off three set points and win the next five games to take the set 7-5. Furman’s hot hand continued in the second set and after racing out to a 4-0 lead he’d close it out 7-5, 6-1.
In the other two matches that went unfinished Baylor had the lead on 4 and was serving for the set on 1.
 #1 Baylor 4, #7 TCU 1
5/20/2021 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
1. #21 Adrian Boitan (BU) vs. #12 Alastair Gray (TCU) 4-6, *6-5, unfinished
2. #11 Matias Soto (BU) def. #17 Luc Fomba (TCU) 6-4, 6-4
3. Sven Lah (BU) def. #110 Jake Fearnley (TCU) 6-3, 6-1
4. Nick Stachowiak (BU) vs. #94 Tomas Jirousek (TCU) 7-5, *2-3 (30/15), unfinished
5. Tadeas Paroulek (TCU) def. Charlie Broom (BU) 6-2, 6-4
6. Spencer Furman (BU) def. Bertus Kruger (TCU) 7-5, 6-1
1. #2 Luc Fomba/Alastair Gray (TCU) def. #9 Constantin Frantzen/Sven Lah (BU) 6-2
2. #75 Matias Soto/Nick Stachowiak (BU) def. Tadeas Paroulek/Sander Jong (TCU) 6-3
3. Charlie Broom/Finn Bass (BU) def. Bertus Kruger/Jake Fearnley (TCU) 7-6 (7-5)
TCU 19-8; National ranking #7
Baylor 33-4; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,5,2,6)
In the final match of the day, the top overall seed Florida came back from dropping the doubles point to defeat No. 8 Texas A&M 4-1. In the two regular season meetings, both won by Florida, each team had taken the doubles point once so it was fitting that this doubles point would be decided by a tiebreak.
Texas A&M went up early breaks at both No. 1 and No. 3 while No. 2 stayed on serve for a bit. Florida’s Will Grant and Brian Berducso dropped the opening two games at No. 3 but then reeled off six straight to win 6-2. Texas A&M’s Valentin Vacherot and Pierce Rollins won the only break point of the match at No. 2 doubles to take a 5-3 lead and then Vacherot served it out from 40/30 to take it 6-3.
In the decider at No. 1, Texas A&M served for the match up 5-4 but Florida’s Duarte Vale and Johannes Ingildsen broke Bjorn Thomson from 15/40 to even it at 5-5. Vale fought off a pair break points to hold for 6-5 and then Thomson’s partner Juan Carlos Aguilar held from 40/15 to force a tiebreak. Vale and Ingildsen jumped out to a 6-3 lead in the tiebreak but Aguilar and Thomson won the next five points to steal it 8-6.
Florida rebounded in singles and took four opening sets while Texas A&M won opening set tiebreaks at 1 and 6.
Florida freshman Ben Shelton gave the Gators its first point with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Pierce Rollins at No. 5. Rollins broke Shelton to start the match but Shelton broke back on the deciding point to even it at 1-1. Shelton broke Rollins at love to go up 4-2 and then he broke him from 30/40 to close out the opening set. The only break of serve in the second set came when Rollins was serving to stay in the match at 5-6. Shelton managed to break on the deciding point to close it out
Blaise Bicknell ran his dual-match record to 22-0 after defeating Noah Schachter for the third time in the last three months with a 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 4. In the first set, Bicknell broke Schachter’s 1-2 service game on the deciding point to go up 3-1 and it was all holds the rest of the set. Bicknell earned the only break of the second set in the opening game after winning the deciding point.
Sam Riffice made it 3-1 Gators with a 7-6, 6-4 win over Hady Habib at No. 2. There were no breaks of serve in the first set (no break point opportunities either) but Riffice would get a few mini-breaks in the tiebreak and after going up 6-3 he’d take it 7-5. In the second set there was an exchange of breaks with Riffice breaking from 15/40 for 2-1 but Habib broke back from 30/40 to make it 2-2. It stayed on serve until Riffice broke Habib from 15/40 to go up 5-4 and then he’d serve it out from 40/15 to win it 6-4.
It’d be another 45 minutes until the next match would go final but that next one was the one to put Florida over the line.
Texas A&M’s Valentin Vacherot won a hard fought first set 7-6(5) over Duarte Vale at No. 1 but the Florida senior would take the second set 6-1. In the final frame, Vacherot had a break point on Vale’s 1-2 service game but he’d be unable to convert and wouldn’t see another break opportunity the rest of the match. Vale broke Vacherot on the deciding point to go in front 3-2 and then he’d break him again from 30/40 to go up 5-2. Vale served it out from 40/30 to set up a showdown with Texas on Friday night.
In the two matches that went unfinished, Florida’s Andy Andrade was serving up 4-3 in the third at No.3 after trailing 0-3 and Florida’s Josh Goodger was serving at 2-3 in the third at No. 6.
 #2 Florida 4, #8 Texas A&M 1
5/20/2021 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
1. #4 Duarte Vale (UF) def. #5 Valentin Vacherot (TAMU) 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-2
2. #6 Sam Riffice (UF) def. #3 Hady Habib (TAMU) 7-6 (7-5), 6-4
3. #18 Andy Andrade (UF) vs. #30 Carlos Aguilar (TAMU) 6-3, 4-6, *4-3 (40/30), unfinished
4. #51 Blaise Bicknell (UF) def. #100 Noah Schachter (TAMU) 6-3, 6-4
5. Ben Shelton (UF) def. #122 Pierce Rollins (TAMU) 6-2, 7-5
6. #79 Josh Goodger (UF) vs. Guido Marson (TAMU) 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, *2-3 (15/30), unfinished
1. #8 Bjorn Thomson/Carlos Aguilar (TAMU) def. Duarte Vale/Johannes Ingildsen (UF) 7-6 (8-6)
2. #65 Valentin Vacherot/Pierce Rollins (TAMU) def. Sam Riffice/Ben Shelton (UF) 6-3
3. Will Grant/Brian Berdusco (UF) def. #86 Hady Habib/Noah Schachter (TAMU) 6-2
Texas A&M 19-9; National ranking #8
Florida Gators 24-2; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (5,4,2,1)
Friday’s Men’s Semifinal Schedule
 Baylor vs.  Tennessee (2:00 pm ET) – Video via TennisOne
 Florida vs.  Texas (NB 7:30 pm ET) – Video via TennisChannel
Give it up to Florida for making it this far with actual real life American players. Tennessee a bit too. The rest of these teams look like a Futures draw in Antarctica.