No. 1-seed UCLA slips past Ohio State 4-3 to head to NCAA championship
URBANA, Ill. -- UCLA earned a spot in the NCAA final for the first time since 2005 as the top-seeded Bruins edged No. 5-seed Ohio State 4-3 on Monday in a classic semifinal showdown between the two tennis powerhouses at the University of Illinois' Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex. UCLA (29-1) moves on to Tuesday's championship match where it will take on second-seeded Virginia (29-0). The Cavaliers beat Georgia 4-1 on Monday.
With the score tied at three, the outcome of Monday's match rested on the shoulders of Bruin sophomore Marcos Giron, who was in a tight battle with Ohio State's eighth-ranked Peter Kobelt at the No. 2 position. Giron, who is ranked 25th nationally in singles, lost the first set and barely managed to scrape out the second set, winning in a tiebreaker. The third set remained on serve for the first nine games, however with Kobelt serving to stay in the match at 4-5, Giron made his move. Giron fought off two game points and earned his first match point when Kobelt dropped a backhand into the net. Fortunately for the Bruins, Giron wouldn't have to hit another ball, as Kobelt double-faulted on the crucial match point, paving the way for Giron's teammates to storm the court in celebration.
"He kind of gave it to me with that double fault," Giron said. "It was definitely awesome and I couldn't believe it because I think that was the first double-fault he hit all match. The conditions were very tough. No one enjoys playing in very windy conditions, but I think it actually suites the UCLA team very well. [OSU] is used to playing indoors and we're used to playing outdoors all year round. It can be very windy at UCLA and so I felt like the wind actually helped us. Especially for me against a big hitter who likes to take big cracks at the ball. I was just trying to play steady and not go for too much. It worked."
"It seems like this is the way it is every time we play Ohio State. It was so close," UCLA head coach Billy Martin said. "Ty Tucker [Ohio State coach] always has his guys ready to play hard. They're a really physical team. They played bad doubles. The wind really threw them off. They regrouped, came out and put that behind them. They were right there to win the match. A couple shots here and there and it could be us out."