Trojans take second place at ITA indoor tournament

first_imgThe USC men’s tennis team was handed its first loss of the 2014 season on Monday, falling to Ohio State in the final round of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Houston.Doing his part · USC junior Roberto Quiroz earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for his undefeated play at the ITA National Team Indoors. – Ralf Cheung | Daily Trojan The draw became progressively tougher for the No. 3 Trojans (7-1), who started the weekend’s tournament strong on Friday in the Round of 16, taking out No. 14 Tennessee to advance to the quarterfinals.In that match, USC came out on top by a score of 4-1. The Trojans won the doubles point with impressive play on courts two and three, but the Volunteers tied it up in singles when No. 17 Hunter Reese handed No. 16  junior Yannick Hanfmann his first loss of the season. The Trojans surged back, though, with three impressive wins. Senior Michael Grant, who had been sidelined for almost a month with injury, returned to court six and took home a victory to push USC ahead 2-1.Senior captain Ray Sarmiento, ranked No. 7 in the nation, defeated Tennessee’s No. 45 Mikelis Libietis, 6-1, 6-5, to leave it up to freshman Connor Farren to clinch the match for the Trojans with a 6-4, 6-2 win on court four.With the win, USC earned a spot against No. 6 Baylor in the quarterfinals. Once again, USC’s doubles teams got it done on courts two and three to give the Trojans an early 1-0 lead. In singles, Hanfmann got back in the winning groove with a decisive 6-2, 6-1 win over Baylor’s No. 18 Diego Galeano. Farren and junior Eric Johnson fell on courts four and five, but victories from junior Roberto Quiroz and the resurgent Grant gave USC a 4-2 win and slotted them against No. 2 UCLA in the semifinals for the second year in a row.Against the Bruins, Hanfmann and Sarmiento were able to come out with their first win of the tournament in doubles. With another win from Johnson and sophomore Max de Vroome on court three, the Trojans won the doubles point. USC jumped to a 3-0 lead behind victories from de Vroome and Quiroz, but UCLA made it dramatic by tying it up with three straight singles wins. With the score tied at 3-3, the fate of the match was in the hands of Hanfmann, who was locked in battle with UCLA’s Marcos Giron, the No. 5 singles player in the country. Hanfmann clinched the match with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory, earning the Trojans a spot in the finals against Ohio State.Upon reaching the finals, the Trojans had high hopes after upsetting the Bruins. But the No. 5 Buckeyes had gathered some momentum of their own after their upset of top-ranked Virginia in their semifinal match.In the finals, USC dropped the doubles point for the first time this season. In singles play, junior Jonny Wang saw his first action of the tournament, but fell 6-3, 6-4 on court six. Hanfmann was able to stay the course and pull off a win, but the rest of the day would not go the Trojans’ way, as Sarmiento and Farren fell to hand the title to the Buckeyes by a 4-1 score.“I think every match we played in the tournament was a challenge for us,” Sarmiento said. “These matches pushed us and we responded. As a team I thought we competed well.”Though Ohio State might not seem like a natural rival for USC’s tennis team, the Buckeyes were a thorn in the Trojans’ side last year as well, ending the team’s quest for a fifth consecutive national championship in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.“We want to kill them, seriously,” USC head coach Peter Smith said. “After [this weekend], you just want to get back on the court and beat somebody else. Getting reps and getting answers, [just] getting comfortable out there.”The average person might see a trip to the finals as a success, but the Trojans were frustrated over coming up short in the championship match of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships for the second year in a row.“Obviously we didn’t like where we ended but at the end of the day we learn from it and move forward,” Sarmiento said. “There are a lot more matches to be played and we must continue to improve and play as a team.”The weekend’s results may not have been what the Trojans hoped to see at Houston, but as far as Smith sees it, the tournament was nonetheless a learning experience.“Speaking for myself, I’m very excited to get back out in the court,” Smith said. “The loss doesn’t sit well, but the team we lost to played their best game, and was strong.”As far as the future is concerned, the Trojans are always working hard to be the better team the next time around.The Trojans will head back to Marks Stadium on Feb. 21 for a doubleheader against UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis.last_img

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