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USC Tennis: Team Championships Tourney Update

Would the Men’s team set themselves up to repeat as champs? Can anyone stop the Women of Troy right now? We’ve got a recap of all this weekend’s NCAA tourney action.

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Thursday - Round of 16

The defending national champs faced off against No. 10 seeded Duke in this year's round of 16 and dispatched them with ease, sweeping the Blue Devils 4-0 in Waco, Texas.

The Trojans put their foot on the gas early, winning the doubles point thanks to a strong effort by Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz. The seniors pulled out an 8-3 victory on court one while Max De Vroome and Eric Johnson eked out an 8-5 win on court two. The Trojans were also leading the third doubles match 7-6 thanks to a nice comeback effort from Nick Crystal and Thibault Forget, who had fallen behind 6-3 early (the third match was suspended after the first two had already been won, thus clinching the point).

The singles matches were more of the same for the Trojans. On court one, Hanfmann dominated Duke's Nicolas Alvarez 6-1, 6-1 giving the team a 2-0 lead. De Vroome, a junior, would help the Men of Troy take a commanding 3-0 lead after defeating Chris Mengel 6-3, 6-2 on court five. The clincher would come from Quiroz, who jumped out to an early 6-1 lead before finishing off Duke's Jason Tahir in the second set 7-5. All in all, it was quite the convincing win for a No. 7 seeded USC team that had struggled at times throughout the year, but seemed to be getting hot at the right time.

Saturday - Quarterfinals
The men's team would run into a much tougher opponent in the Quarterfinals, drawing the No. 2 seeded host Baylor Bears.

The Trojans failed to capitalize on their Round of 16 momentum and ended up losing the all-important doubles point. The mountain would be too tall to climb for the team after being broken early on courts one and two, and despite a strong effort from Crystal and Forget on court three, Hanfmann and Quiroz would lose 8-4 on one while De Vroome and Johnson fell 8-5 on two, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead.

Despite the early hole, USC would rally during singles play. Eric Johnson battled Baylor's Max Tchoutakian on court three and would earn the 6-3, 6-4 victory, evening up the match at 1-1. Max De Vroome took early breaks in both of his first two sets against Mate Zsiga and was unable to recover, losing 6-3, 6-3 and giving the Bears a crucial 2-1 lead. Roberto Quiroz would help the Trojans pull even once again after defeating Tony Lupieri 6-3, 6-3 to knot things up at 2-2. However, that was the closest the Trojans would come to beating Baylor in front of their home crowd. Nick Crystal battled mightily with the Bears' Felipe Ross, with Ross winning the first set 7-5 and then ultimately winning the second set tiebreaker 7-6 (5). The win would put the Bears in position to clinch with a 3-2 lead. USC senior Jonny Wang was unable to hang with Baylor's Diego Galeano in their first set, but fought hard in the second before also losing the tiebreaker to give Galeano a 6-3, 7-6 (0) decision. That clinched the 4-2 victory for the Bears and put the nail in the coffin for the Trojan's team post-season run.

For USC, reaching their 9th consecutive NCAA Quarterfinals is certainly something to hang their hat on, but with all their recent success the loss is obviously hard to swallow. They'll get another shot at glory later this week when the Singles and Doubles Championships are held in Waco starting May 20th.


Friday - Round of 16

Can anyone stop the top-seeded Women of Troy right now? For No. 16 seeded Texas Tech, the answer was a resounding "no," as USC swept the Red Raiders 4-0 in Waco, Texas.

The Trojans won the doubles point after Pac-12 freshman of the year Madison Westby and fellow freshman Gabby Smith cooked up a decisive 8-3 victory on court three while Giuliana Olmmos and Zoe Scandalis pulled away from a 4-4 tie to win their match 8-4 on court two. Despite the fact that Zoe Katz and Sabrina Santamaria lost their match 8-4 to the Red Raiders on court one, the point was never really in doubt and USC headed to the singles portion with a 1-0 lead.

Santamaria, a senior, started things off in the singles competition, cruising to a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Tech's Kenna Kilgo on court one to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead. Meanwhile on court three, fellow senior Scandalis would quickly follow suit by racking up an easy 6-1, 6-1 win over Sarah Dvorak. With USC holding a commanding 3-0 lead thanks to the veteran work by the two seniors, it was a freshman who would help the Trojans clinch. Meredith Xepoleas won her 20th consecutive singles match by defeating the Red Radier's Katelyn Jackon 7-5, 6-1 on court six to complete the 4-0 sweep.

The win helped the Women of Troy advance to the Quarterfinals for the first time in two years after being eliminated in the Round of 16 in both 2013 and 2014.

Sunday - Quarterfinals

Squaring off against the No. 8 seeded host Baylor Bears, USC faced a tougher challenge than the previous round, but still emerged victorious with a 4-1 win thanks to some heavy-lifting by the freshmen.

Giuliana Olmos and Zoe Scandalis would start the Trojans off on the right foot with an early 8-4 victory on court two, but the team still had plenty of work to do to secure the doubles point. Gabby Smith and Madison Westby would stave off three match points on court two to pull the score to 7-6, but the Bears would ultimately win 8-6. The decisive match would come down to Zoe Katz and Sabrina Santamaria. Despite falling behind 5-2 early, Katz and Santamaria would work their way back to a 7-7 tie before eventually winning the tiebreaker 7-1 to give them the 8-7 (1) win and secure the doubles point for the Trojans.

The 1-0 lead proved extremely helpful as the singles competition would be the first real challenge the Trojans have seen all postseason. The freshman would prove to be crucial as Madison Westby won the tiebreaker in her first set before cruising in the second to give her a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over Baylor's Rachael James-Baker on court four to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead. Fellow freshman Meredith Xepoleas would win her 21st consecutive singles match 6-4, 6-2 over Kelley Anderson on court six. With the 3-0 lead, the Women of Troy would finally surrender their first team point all postseason as Baylor's Ema Burgic managed to pull out a tightly fought 6-2, 7-6 (6) victory over the senior Santamaria on court one. With the Trojans still holding a 3-1 lead, it was another freshman who would help deliver the clinching decision. Gabby Smith pulled off a well-timed comeback in her second set before holding serve and ensuring a 6-1, 6-4 victory that clinched the match for the Women of Troy with a final score of 4-1.

With a 25-2 overall record, the Trojans will go head to head in the NCAA Semifinals with No. 4 seed Vanderbilt later today at 3 pm.