©Colette Lewis 2010--
It was a different year, but the same result. Meeting in the quarterfinals this year, the 2009 team finalists played a competitive doubles point, but USC took control during the singles, roaring to a 4-0 win with Robert Farah earning the clinching point at No. 1.
The doubles was a seesaw affair with breaks coming and going. Ohio State won at No. 3, with Balazs Novak and Justin Kronauge defeating Peter Lucassen and Jaak Poldma 8-6; a few minutes later, Trojans Daniel Nguyen and JT Sundling got a late break to down Matt Allare and Shuhei Uzawa 9-7.
That left it to court one, which also saw its share of great points and service breaks. At one stage all four players on the number one court, Dino Marcan, Steve Johnson and Chase Buchanan were broken in succession, and even when Farah stepped to the line to serve out the point at 7-6 it was no sure thing. Ohio State earned two break points at 15-40, when the USC team couldn't convert routine volley, but Farah saved them both, the second on a let cord service ace. Ohio State got another break point when Marcan hit a beautifully disguised forehand winner into the alley, but a putaway by Farah saved that one. A service winner brought USC to match point, but Johnson missed an easy volley at the net. Farah gave Johnson another chance after a first serve winner gave the Trojans a second match point and this time Johnson's drop volley cleared the net and sent USC to the break with a 1-0 lead.
"I thought doubles set the tone for the match," said Peter Smith, USC head coach. "Once we got that we seemed to really play well in singles. We got off to such a good start, it was a little hard to believe looking down the courts."
What Smith was seeing on the first four courts McWhorter courts was his team winning first sets 6-1, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. Although Ohio State did win one first set, with Matt Allare getting it 7-6(9) over Matt Kecki at No. 5, that was on one of the two upper courts, so the momentum didn't help much down below.
By that time, Nguyen had cruised past Novak 6-2, 6-1 at No. 4 and Poldma took out Marcan 6-0, 6-3 at No. 3 to make it 3-0.
At No. 1 singles, Buchanan had a break and was leading 4-3 against Farah in the second set, but immediately lost the break to make it 4-4. Farah held, and while Trojan Peter Lucassen was also holding a match point for the clinch at No. 6 against Devin McCarthy, Farah broke Buchanan for the 4-0 win.
"It's very exciting to try to get the title again," said Farah, who clinched the NCAA title for the Trojans last year against Ohio State. "We had such a great experience last year that to get it again would be something amazing."
Ohio State head coach Ty Tucker was sorry to see the Trojans across the nets this early.
"We didn't want to play USC and now you know why," Tucker said. "They were the better team, certainly today, they were the better team twelve months ago, so I guess you've got to say they're the better team. I think they match up well with us."
Smith may have wanted a rematch with crosstown rival UCLA, but he will get top seed Virginia instead, after the top-ranked Cavaliers overcame the loss of the doubles point to post a 4-2 win over No. 9 UCLA.
#5 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (23-3) def. #4 OHIO STATE (35-2), 4-0
Head Coaches: Ty Tucker (Ohio State) and Peter Smith (Southern California)
Doubles (Order of finish: 3,2,1)
1. #2 Robert Farah/Steve Johnson (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. #9 Chase Buchanan/Dino Marcan (OHIO STATE), 8-6
2. Daniel Nguyen/JT Sundling (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. Matt Allare/Shuhei Uzawa (OHIO STATE), 9-7
3. Balazs Novak/Justin Kronauge (OHIO STATE) def. Peter Lucassen/Jaak Poldma (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA), 8-6
Singles (Order of finish: 4,3,1*)
1. #9 Robert Farah (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. #8 Chase Buchanan (OHIO STATE), 6-1, 6-4
2. #23 Justin Kronauge (OHIO STATE) vs. #3 Steve Johnson (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA), 3-6, 5-4, unf.
3. #89 Jaak Poldma (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. Dino Marcan (OHIO STATE), 6-0, 6-3
4. #83 Daniel Nguyen (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. Balazs Novak (OHIO STATE), 6-2, 6-1
5. Matt Allare (OHIO STATE) vs. Matt Kecki (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA), 7-6(9), 5-2, unf.
6. Devin McCarthy (OHIO STATE) vs. #121 Peter Lucassen (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA), 3-6, 4-5, unf.
Sunday, May 23, 2010