LOS ANGELES -- UCLA lost the doubles point but managed to get four consecutive victories in singles play on Saturday to down Florida 4-1 in the first day of competition at the Pac-12/SEC Challenge at USC's Marks Tennis Stadium. UCLA (4-0) rounds out play at the event on Sunday, taking on No. 3 Georgia.
After both teams traded doubles wins at Courts 2 and 3, Saturday's doubles point came down to Court 1, where UCLA's 10th-ranked Mackenzie McDonald and Marcos Giron were in a tight battle with Florida's Michael Alford and Stephane Piro. The match was ultimately decided by a thrilling tiebreaker, where Alford and Piro prevailed 10-8.
Following doubles, UCLA took a 2-1 lead in the match when Florida's top player Spencer Newman was forced to retire in the first set of his match against top-ranked Clay Thompson at Court 1. Thompson was leading 4-3 at the time of retirement.
Bruin freshman Gage Brymer then put the Bruins ahead 3-1 when he dominated 53rd-ranked Elliott Orkin at court No. 4, winning 6-1, 6-1.
Brymer's win put UCLA within a point of clinching the match and the Bruins would get that clinching win at Court 6, where Dennis Mkrtchian beat Florent Diep 6-3, 6-5(2).
The loss marks Florida's first of the season, as the Gators are now 3-1 on the year.
No. 4 Southern California 4, No. 3 Georgia 3
LOS ANGELES -- In the first edition of the Pac-12/SEC Challenge, Southern California made a statement in serving up a 4-0 takedown of Georgia. After pulling off a tight doubles point, the Trojans rattled off three straight-set singles wins to wrap a quick victory against the Bulldogs. USC improves to 3-0 with the win, and the Trojans now turn to face No. 11 Florida on Sunday in the finale of the event at Marks Stadium.
Setting the winning tone for the Trojans was USC's top guns on the doubles courts, Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento. They more than held their ground against Georgia's No. 12 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland and hustled to a 6-2 win on Court 1. The Bulldogs made it interesting by snagging the win on Court 3 in a tiebreaker, as UGA's Eric Diaz/Austin Smith edged out USC's Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson. That set up the heroics on Court 2, where USC's new combo pack of freshman Connor Farren and junior Roberto Quiroz continued their winning ways with a 6-4 win.
The feature presentation of the singles scene was set for Court 1, where USC's No. 10 senior Ray Sarmiento was up against Georgia's No. 12 Austin Smith. With the Trojans poised for the victory, Sarmiento locked in the win for USC on a 6-4, 6-4 win at the No. 1 spot to suspend action on the remaining courts.
USC junior No. 67 Jonny Wang wrapped up USC's second point with a smooth 6-3, 6-1 win against Pieters on Court 5. Meanwhile, at the No. 2 spot, USC's No. 34 junior Yannick Hanfmann was all business in his first set tiebreaker against No. 21 Nathan Pasha. The momentum Hanfmann gleaned from that tiebreak sweep carried him through to a strong second set, as he would tally a 3-0 lead for the Trojans with his 6-5 (0), 6-1 win.
No. 10 Mississippi State 5, Rice 2
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Mississippi State (6-0) took care of business Saturday, defeating the Rice Owls (2-3) 5-2 at the McLeod Tennis Center.
The Bulldogs got off to a hot start, taking the doubles point for the first time in four matches. On Court 2, the freshman pair of Florian Lakat and Egbert Weverink made quick work of Rice’s Srikar Alla and Leif Berber, earning a 6-3 victory. The MSU tandem of Rishab Agarwal and Zach White clinched doubles play for the Bulldogs, defeating tAdam Gustafsson and Zach Yablon 6-3 on Court 3, moving to 3-0 on the season.
In singles, MSU earned three straight-set victories early to clinch the win against the Owls. Freshman Robin Haden struck first for State on Court 6, earning a 6-1, 6-3 victory against Henrik Munch in only his third match of the season. Following suit on Court 3 was MSU’s Jordan Angus, who defeated Gustafsson 6-4, 6-3 to put MSU up 3-0 in the match. The win also moved Angus to 6-0 to begin the season.
The clincher came on Court 5, as the Bulldog freshman Agarwal used back-to-back tiebreakers to defeat the Owls’ Gustavo Gonzalez 6-5(2), 6-5(4), giving MSU the overall match. The win was Agarwal’s second match-clinching victory of the year.
Play continued following the clinch, with matches remaining on Courts 1, 2 and 4. MSU’s 63rd-ranked Lakat was forced to a third set by Alla, but took the victory, picking up a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 triumph on Court 1. On Court 2, No. 39 Malte Stropp fell to Rice’s Tommy Bennett in a third-set super tiebreaker, 6-5(6), 2-6, 1-0(8), while State’s White dropped a 6-3, 3-6, 6-5(5) decision to the David Warren on Court 4.