No. 3 Southern California blasts No. 5 UCLA to secure perfect Pac-12 finish
LOS ANGELES -- Southern California kept its eyes on the prize today in a 4-2 takedown of crosstown rival UCLA, finishing off an undefeated Pac-12 regular season for the Trojans while steamrolling along to a 16th consecutive victory. The No. 5 Bruins were able to snag the early advantage with the doubles point, but USC was resolute in its mission in singles. The Trojans would break open a 2-2 tie when Max de Vroome and Roberto Quiroz dug in to win three-setters, with Quiroz clinching from court three. The win puts USC at 25-2 overall, and the 7-0 Pac-12 mark has the Trojans taking the No. 1 seed into next week's Pac-12 tournament in Ojai, Calif.
In doubles action, USC drew first blood when No. 2 Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento delivered an 8-4 win on court one over UCLA's No. 58 Giron/Sell. Sarmiento sealed the deal with an ace to finish off the Bruins in that one, but UCLA was able to take the upper hand in the remaining matches. On court two, Trojans Nick Crystal and Roberto Quiroz were in stride with Bruins Di Giulio/Thompson to bring up a tiebreaker there. UCLA would work into a 4-1 lead in the breaker and push on to win the match 8-7 (3), leaving the decider on court three. There, USC's Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson were down a break, and Bruins McDonald/Puget were able to capitalize, notching an 8-4 win that wrapped up the early advantage for No. 5 UCLA.
The Trojans' homecourt pride shined through in singles action next. On court five, USC's Eric Johnson had shrugged off his doubles defeat and charged up for a powerful and relatively speedy 6-1, 7-5 win against Karue Sell to level the match 1-1. The marquee match of the day featured USC's No. 16 Yannick Hanfmann and UCLA's top-ranked Clay Thompson on court one. Hanfmann showed no fear against the No. 1 senior Bruin, taking the first set 6-4 and then digging out of a 1-3 hole in the second set, delivering one final break of the hard-hitting Thompson to craft a 6-4, 7-5 win that punched up a 2-1 lead for the Trojans.
UCLA fired back on court two when No. 5 Marcos Giron topped USC's No. 9 Ray Sarmiento with a 7-5, 6-3 decision that evened the score at 2-2, while the remaining matches all stretched into third sets. Things tightened up at that point, with Trojans trailing during two of those three third sets. USC's No. 95 sophomore Max de Vroome, however, never trailed in his third set, despite having some wind taken out of his sails in dropping his second set against No. 94 Gage Brymer. Once up a break in the third, de Vroome stubbornly stayed in control the rest of the way. He'd take the Trojans to a 3-2 advantage with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win against Brymer to leave things up to the remaining Trojans on court. Both No. 53 Roberto Quiroz and No. 120 Michael Grant got down a break in their respective matches on courts three and six, and both made roaring comebacks. Quiroz would hit the finish line first. He'd rattle off the last three games of his match with No. 74 Gage Brymer to claim the clincher on a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 victory. That win also tallied the junior's 16th consecutive singles victory. Grant, meanwhile, had his comeback efforts against Joseph De Giulio halted at 1-6, 6-3, 4-4 when Quiroz registered the winner for the Trojan cause.