Note: Saturday's Pac-12 final will air tape-delayed on the Pac-12 Networks on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. (PST).
Saturday marked the fourth meeting between the two teams this season, with the Trojans heading into the match with a 2-1 series advantage. In fact, USC downed UCLA less than 10 days ago in the regular-season finale for both teams on April 18.
UCLA began Saturday's contest by winning the doubles point in thrilling fashion. After both teams traded wins at court Nos. 2 and 3, the point came down to court No. 1, where UCLA's 13th-ranked Marcos Giron and Mackenzie McDonald were battling the nation's No. 1 team in Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento. Giron and McDonald would pull off the slight upset, notching an 8-5 victory to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead heading into singles action.
Despite the early advantage, UCLA knew Saturday's match was far from over, as the Bruins also won the doubles point against the Trojans in that April 18 loss. The Trojans didn't let the setback in doubles faze them, storming out in singles to take a pair of straight-set victories to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Wins by Hanfmann and Sarmiento at court Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, quickly gave USC the momentum it needed to pull off another win over the Bruins.
UCLA, however, was still in a good position, as the Bruins had won first sets on all four of the remaining courts. Bruin freshman Gage Brymer, the nation's 93rd-ranked player, would tie things up for UCLA at court No. 4, where he was a 6-2, 6-4 winner over 85th-ranked Max De Vroome. UCLA would get another boost shortly thereafter, as Adrien Puget downed No. 119 Michael Grant, 6-4, 6-1 at court No. 6 to give UCLA a 3-2 lead. That win was a pleasant surprise for UCLA, as Saturday marked Puget's season debut in singles. He had been sidelined since the summer while recovering from knee surgery and just recently began playing again in doubles.
Bruin sophomore Karue Sell actually had match point at the same time as Puget and would finish off his match just seconds later, as his 6-3, 7-6(4) victory over Eric Johnson gave UCLA an insurmountable 4-2 advantage and wrapped up the program's second-straight Pac-12 Championship.
The only other match remaining at the time of Sell's victory was at court No. 3, where McDonald and Roberto Quiroz were tied at 2-2 in the third set.
UCLA will now get two weeks off until NCAA Regional play on May 10-11. The Bruins will likely host NCAA First and Second Round play at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The 64-team draw for this year's NCAA Tournament will be announced on Tuesday, April 29th at 2:00 p.m. (PST). The selection show can be seen live on NCAA.com.
In other Ojai news, UCLA signee Austin Rapp, who plays for Palm Desert High School, took home the CIF singles crown on Saturday, downing Harvard-Westlake's Michael Genender, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4. Two former UCLA players will also be squaring off in Sunday's Men's Open final, as Dennis Novikov and Haythem Abid will meet to decide that title at 11:30 a.m. at Libbey Park. Abid is also in the men's open doubles final with teammate Kyle McMorrow (2:30 p.m.).
Pac-12 Tournament Final
#5 UCLA 4, #1 USC 2
Apr 26, 2014 at Ojai, CA (Libbey Park)
|1. #13 Giron/McDonald (UCLA) def. #1 Hanfmann/Sarmiento (USC) 8-5|
|2. Puget/Sell (UCLA) def. Nick Crystal/Quiroz (USC) 8-3|
|3. De Vroome/Johnson (USC) def. Joseph Di Giulio/Thompson (UCLA) 8-3|
|1. #13 Yannick Hanfmann (USC) def. #3 Marcos Giron (UCLA) 6-4, 6-2|
|2. #10 Ray Sarmiento (USC) def. #1 Clay Thompson (UCLA) 6-2, 6-4|
|3. #43 Roberto Quiroz (USC) vs. #33 Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) 2-6, 6-2, 2-2, unfinished|
|4. #93 Gage Brymer (UCLA) def. #85 Max De Vroome (USC) 6-2, 6-4|
|5. #100 Karue Sell (UCLA) def. Eric Johnson (USC) 6-3, 7-6(4)|
|6. Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. #119 Michael Grant (USC) 6-4, 6-1|
|UCLA 22-3; National ranking #5|
|USC 26-3; National ranking #1|
|Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (1,2,4,6,5)|