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USC won its third Pac-12 Tournament Championship with a thrilling 4-3 win over crosstown rival UCLA. The Trojans jumped out to the early 1-0 lead after winning the deciding doubles match in a tiebreak and then they tacked on four first sets in singles. UCLA junior Martin Redlicki tied the match at 1-1 with a straight set win at No. 2 but USC retook the lead after Logan Smith won 7-5, 6-1 at No. 3. Thibault Forget made it 3-1 after a 6-2, 7-5 win at No. 3 but UCLA wasn't ready to go away. Maxime Cressy pulled out a 7-6, 6-4 win at No. 6 and Logan Staggs came back from a set down to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 at No. 4. The match came down to a deciding third set at No. 1 between USC freshman Brandon Holt and UCLA senior Gage Brymer. While Holt was holding comfortably, everyone of Brymer's service games was a battle. Brymer held on the no-ad point in three consecutive service game including when he fell behind 15/40 while serving at 3-4. Holt held for 5-4 and then after going up 0/40 he'd break Brymer from 30/40 to clinch the championship.
Top seed Vanderbilt knocked off top ranked Florida 4-3 to win the SEC Championship in match that was played indoors at Vanderbilt. Florida played without Josie Kuhlman (#2 singles/#3 doubles) who was sick with a stomach illness but the Gators still rolled through the doubles point to take the early lead. Vandy's Astra Sharma tied the match with a win at No. 1 but Florida's Kourtney Keegan made it 2-1 with a win at No. 5. Vandy's Sydney Campbell pulled out a three set win at No. 2 to even the match at 2-2 but Florida's Anna Danilina put the Gators back in front with a three set win at No. 4. Vandy's Christina Rosca tied the match at 3-3 with a three set win at No. 3 so the final match to go on court in the five-court facility would decide the championship.
Vanderbilt sophomore Fernanda Contreras won the first nine games of the match to go in front of Florida senior Spencer Liang 6-0, 3-0 but Liang came back to take the next five to go up 5-3. Contreras broke Liang from 15/40 with a lob winner to make it 5-4 and then she hit a service winner on the no-ad point to hold for 5-5. Contreras would go on to win the next eight points to close it out 6-0, 7-5 to give Vanderbilt its second SEC Tournament Championship in school history.
Sunday was as wild a day as it gets in the SEC with four lower ranked women's teams picking up wins with two of those wins coming over No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Georgia. The SEC is the only Power 5 Women's Conference to have its conference tournament this coming week so many of these same teams will see each other much sooner than they had probably hoped. Sunday was a day of redemption for some teams on the men's side with both Oregon and Michigan overcoming tough losses to pick up a top 25 win.
Cal came into Friday evenings match against No. 23 Oregon with a perfect 33-0 record all-time against the Ducks but the streak nearly came to an end. Cal picked up the all-important doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 but Oregon came back in singles and picked up three quick straight set wins from Akihiro Tanaka, Cormac Clissold, and Ty Gentry to go in front 3-1. Cal came back to tie it up with Andre Goransson and Filip Bergevi each winning in straight sets so the match would be decided in a third set at No. 1 between a pair of Frenchmen.
Cal senior Florian Lakat (Paris) took the first set 6-4 but Oregon sophomore Thomas Laurent (Montpellier) snagged the second 7-5 after breaking Lakat's 6-5 service game. After an exchange of holds, Laurent went up 30/40 on Lakat's 1-2 service game but Lakat hit back-to-back forehand winners to hold for 2-2. Laurent held for 3-2 and then he went up 30/40 on Lakat's serve but Lakat hit back-to-back service winners to hold for 3-3. Laurent held for 4-3 and then once again he'd go up 30/40 on Lakat's serve but Lakat hit an ace out wide and then on the deciding point he hit a service winner to hold for 4-4. Laurent had been cruising on his serve all set but Lakat would break him on the no-ad point after hitting a forehand winner that just clipped the sideline right in front of the chair. Laurent actually called the shot out but the chair quickly overruled it so now Lakat was serving for the match up 5-4. Lakat would serve it out from 40/15 to give Cal a tough 4-3 win.
It may have been wet on the east side of the San Francisco Bay (UCLA/Cal rained out) but on the south side it stayed dry long enough for Stanford to upset No. 5 USC 4-1. Stanford came into the match having lost its last four to USC and after dropping the doubles point it may have thought No. 5 wasn't too far off. Stanford refocused in singles and took all six first sets and then one-by-one it managed to close them out in straight sets. Sameer Kumar tied the match at 1-1 with a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 2 and then David Wilczynski made it 2-1 with a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 3. Tom Fawcett put the Cardinal within a point of the clinch after winning 6-4, 6-2 at No. 1 and then senior Brandon Sutter closed it out with a 7-6, 6-1 win at No. 5.
Thursday was a busy day in the SEC with eight teams in action however the highest profile match of the day didn't quite live up to expectations. Georgia, ranked No. 14, strolled into Starkville and took out the host No. 17 Mississippi State 4-0 in just under two and a half hours. The doubles point itself took just under an hour with two of the three matches going to tiebreaks. Mississippi State's No. 2 team of Mate Cutura and Vaughn Hunter won the only match that didn't go to a tiebreak. Cutura and Hunter broke from 30/40 to go up 3-2 and then they came back from 15/40 down to hold for 4-2. After an exchange of holds, Cutura and Hunter broke at love to take it 6-3.
The other two matches looked like they'd be blowouts after the way each started. Mississippi State's Niclas Braun and Trevor Foshey jumped out to a 4-1 lead at No. 1 but Georgia's Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski came back to tie it at 4-4. Mississippi State held on the no-ad point for 5-4 and after three more holds it'd go to a tiebreak. Georgia jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak and they wouldn't drop a point on serve and would win it 7-3.
Georgia's Walker Duncan and Wayne Montgomery jumped out to a 4-0 lead at No. 2 doubles however Mississippi State's Nuno Borges and Giovanni Oradini would come all the way back to tie it at 5-5 after breaking Georgia on the no-ad point. Each team had an easy hold to push it to a tiebreak and then Georgia went up a mini-break at 2-1 and pulled away to win it 7-5.
It was almost a great day to be a Georgia Bulldog but it ended up being just a good day after the Georgia women rocked No. 1 Florida while the Georgia men fell just short against No. 1 Wake Forest. In the men's match, Wake Forest jumped out to the early break lead at No. 2 doubles when Borna Gojo and Alan Gadjiev broke Georgia's Nathan Ponwith and Emil Reinberg to go up 1-0 but Georgia broke back on the no-ad point for 1-1. Georgia won the next three games to go up 4-1 but Wake came back and took the next three to even it at 4-4.
The match at No. 3 stayed on serve through the first eight games but then Georgia got the break when Walker Duncan and Wayne Montgomery broke from 30/40 to go up 5-4. Duncan would serve it out at love to give Georgia the 6-4 win. Both No. 1 and No. 2 doubles would go to tiebreaks and Wake's Christian Seraphim and Skander Mansouri would jump out to a 5-1 lead at No. 1 on Georgia's Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb. Georgia won the next five to go up 6-5 before Mansouri hit a second serve service winner to even it at 6-6. Mansouri would double fault after the changeover and then Zielinski served it out with an overhead smash from the service line to give Georgia the 7-6 (6) win and early 1-0 lead. The match at No. 2 went unfinished with Georgia leading 6-4* in the tiebreak.
Thursday was a busy day in the SEC with eight teams in action since the conference is playing on Thursday and Saturday this week. Three of the four matches saw the road team pick up a win while No. 17 Kentucky was the only team to win at home. TCU finished off its West Coast trip with another win while just down the road UCLA knocked off Duke.
The College MatchDay series wrapped up its Lake Nona schedule on Tuesday evening with a top two showdown between No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Ohio State. Florida's No. 3 doubles team of Josie Kuhlman and Belinda Woolcock went down an early break at 2-1 but they broke back from 30/40 and held for 3-2. They'd break for 4-2 but Ohio State's Miho Kowase and Ferny Angeles Paz would break from 30/40 to put it back on serve at 4-3. It didn't stay on serve for long because Florida broke back at love and then served it out from 40/30 to win 6-3.
Florida's Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan jumped out to a 2-0 lead at No. 1 doubles but Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenzo and Anna Sanford would hold, break, and hold to go in front 3-2. After three more holds, Florida would break on the no-ad point for 5-4 but Ohio State would break back from 30/40 to even it at 5-5. Florida broke back on the no-ad point for 6-5 and then Keegan served it out from 40/30 to give Florida the 1-0 lead. The match at No. 2 went unfinished with the score tied at 5-5.
WOW - what a tremendous day of college tennis action! The day got started early with No. 2 Wake Forest hosting No. 5 North Carolina and it finished 10 hours later with No. 31 TCU pulling off an upset win over No. 6 Cal. Both of the matches in Orlando were tremendous with No. 36 Florida State and No. 15 Florida playing in front of a College MatchDay record-crowd and then at the same time on the other six courts you had Tulsa and Central Florida go down to the wire.
I'll start off with the biggest upset of the day, in terms of ranking, which took place in Palo Alto between a resurgent No. 41 Stanford and No. 8 Texas. The Cardinal was coming off a huge win on Tuesday night over No. 6 Cal in a match where it dropped the doubles point but rallied to win four singles matches. On Friday afternoon, Stanford managed to get out to the early lead after securing the doubles point for the seventh time in eleven matches. Stanford's No. 2 team of Sameer Kumar and Michael Genender broke Texas's Harrison Scott and Julian Zlobinsky on the no-ad point to go ahead 3-2 and then they held for 4-2. Texas would come back from 0/40 down to hold for 3-4 but Stanford would hold from 40/30 and then break from 15/40 to win it 6-3.