The UCLA vs. USC men's dual match is always huge, even when one team or the other is rebuilding. This year, it pitted the country's No. 4 (USC) against No. 5 (UCLA) and the excitement was building even two weeks ago, when I was in Carson. It decided the Pac-10 title, as it did last year, and again it was UCLA that finished on top, with a 4-3 victory at USC. Details of the match are here at uclabruins.cstv.com.
Key quote from UCLA head coach Billy Martin:
"They threw everything they could at us but we stayed focused. Everyone from the football team to the song girls to the band was there. It was a vocal crowd and I've seen some really good players buckle in those types of situations. But everyone did a great job at handling the pressure. I couldn't be more proud of this team than I am today."
This was expected to be a rebuilding year, with the loss of Kohlloeffel to graduation and Haythem Abid to wrist surgery this past fall. (He's unlikely to return for the NCAAs). But the contributions of freshmen Holden Seguso and Nick Meister have made a big difference as has the transfer in of No. 1 Harel Srugo from Old Dominion.
The UCLA women may have a long and storied history, and in reaching the NCAA team finals last year, outperformed the men's team. But with Stanford in the Pac-10, conference titles have been hard to come by; with their 5-2 win over USC at home yesterday, they earned a share of the conference title with the winner of this afternoon's Cal-Stanford showdown. It is their first Pac-10 title ever. The match account is here.
When I read some months ago that Chuck Kriese was retiring as coach of the Clemson men, I had wanted to note it, but let it slide, hoping that his final year with the team would not come to an end until the NCAA round of 16 in Tulsa. After a 4-3 loss to Virginia Tech yesterday at the ACC conference tournament, it looks very unlikely that will happen, so here is the Clemson Tigers site on that match and on the Kriese legacy. But although Kriese and his outside-the-box thinking will be missed on the U.S. college scene, he won't be leaving tennis. This USA Today story sketches out his plans for helping the Thai tennis federation and what he has meant to some of his past players.
And speaking of Clemson, the women's team came up with a big win in today's ACC tournament, taking down the nation's No. 2 team and ACC top seed Georgia Tech, 4-1. They will face Duke in tomorrow's final. For the ACC tournament page, click here.
Saturday, April 19, 2008