PALO ALTO, CALIF. — No. 3 USC got its second consecutive win against No. 8 Stanford and notched an important opening win in Pac-10 play with a 4-2 victory against the Cardinal today in Palo Alto. In a match delayed by rain, the teams opted to bypass doubles and open up with singles play.
It was the third Trojan-Cardinal clash of the year, and USC was determined to get the rubber match to bounce its direction to help avenge a February loss to Stanford during the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Now with eight wins in a row and back-to-back victories against the Cardinal now in its pocket, USC improves to 15-2 overall and takes a 1-0 start to Pac-10 action.
USC’s top-ranked Steve Johnson squared off against Stanford’s Bradley Klahn for the third consecutive time in this season’s Trojan-Cardinal dual match series. Once again, Johnson was a lock at the top as the nation’s No. 1 dished out a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 10 Klahn. Johnson’s win helped get USC the lead after Stanford opened with a 6-1, 6-3 win at the No. 5 position on Greg Hirshman’s victory over Emilio Gomez to even the score on that pair’s recent history. USC freshman #53 Ray Sarmiento pulled the Trojans even on a 6-2, 6-3 cleanup on court four over Denis Lin just before Johnson made it 2-1 Trojans with his victory over Klahn. At No. 6, another USC freshman padded the Trojan lead to 3-1 when Michael Grant topped Matt Kandath 6-1, 1-6, 6-0 in the rubber match between those two in dual-match play.
Stanford closed in to 3-2 when #36 Alex Clayton managed a 6-3, 7-5 win over USC’s #24 Daniel Nguyen at the No. 3 slot, leaving all eyes on a tense matchup on court two to determine whether or not a deciding doubles point was in the cards. USC senior #41 Jaak Poldma was engaged in a three-set battle with Stanford’s #92 Ryan Thacher, but the Trojan took care of business once the match stretched into a deciding tiebreaker. Poldma put some space between himself and Thacher in the tiebreaker, and wrapped up a 4-2 Trojan win with his 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (2) comeback victory.
Weather permitting, USC now heads to Berkeley for its Pac-10 matchup with California at 12 p.m. on Saturday (March 26). The last Trojan-Bear matchup was cancelled due to Southern California rain, making tomorrow’s face-off the first between the two teams this year.