ATHENS, Ga. -- Top seed Southern California chalked up a 5-0 win to kick off its time in Athens, Georgia topping No. 16 seed Columbia on Friday morning in the NCAA Round of 16. After whipping up the doubles point, the Trojans charged on in singles, winning all but one first set and collecting a string of straight-set victories with the clincher coming from the racket of Eric Johnson on court No. 5.
The win puts USC through to the NCAA quarterfinals for the eighth year in a row. Now 29-3 overall, the Trojans will face No. 9 seed Texas at 12 p.m. ET Sunday in the quarterfinals at Dan Magill Tennis Complex.The Trojans wrapped up the doubles point by creating some room on the Lions. Doubles action opened with Columbia putting forth an inspired effort in the early morning start, making things tight for the first stretch. On court No. 1, USC's duo of Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento grabbed an early break and stayed in control to pocket the first win of the day on an 8-4 decision against Ashok Narayana/Max Schnur. On court No. 2, USC's Connor Farren and Roberto Quiroz were digging out of a 5-1 hole to extend their time on court against Winston Lin/Mike Vermeer. Meanwhile, USC's Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson were on task on court three. The pair scored a break for some padding and held strong down the stretch to finish off an 8-6 win against Dragos Ignat/Richard Pham and pocket a 1-0 lead for the Trojans.
Singles play unfolded quickly, with senior Michael Grant issuing the rallying cry for the Trojan cause with a dominating performance on court No. 6. Grant won 10 consecutive games against Vermeer with a 6-0, 6-1 win that pumped USC to a 2-0 advantage. His fellow Trojans had grabbed first set wins on all but one court, as USC made strides toward the finish line. At the No. 3 spot, Quiroz put USC in position for the win with a smooth 6-2, 6-1 win by the junior lefty against Ignat.
That win from Quiroz -- his 19th consecutive victory -- put the clincher up for grabs, with Trojans in strong positions on the remaining courts. de Vroome was forcing the issue on court No. 4 after dropping his first set, while Hanfmann, Sarmiento and Johnson looked to be taking care of business on their respective courts. In the end, the Trojans delivered a quick one-two punch to finish off the Lions. It was Johnson who came through with the clincher, wrapping his No. 5 match on a 6-4, 6-4 final against Bert Vancura just a flash before Sarmiento capped his match on court No. 2. Sarmiento's 6-3, 6-2 win against Schnur topped off the match as a 5-0 Trojan victory.