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Saturday, April 29, 2017

USC Downs UCLA in 4-3 Thriller to Claim Men's Pac-12 Tournament Title; Stanford Women Beat Cal 4-1 for Inaugural Women's Team Title

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Ojai, CA--

The Stanford women and USC men will leave the Ojai Valley with more trophies and memories after collecting Pac-12 tournament titles Saturday afternoon and evening at Libbey Park.

Stanford adds conference tournament title to regular season championship
Although the women's tournament, the first team championship the conference has ever held, had produced the more exciting matches leading up to the final, Stanford was just too strong throughout the event, putting the exclamation point on their regular season conference title with a 4-1 win over Cal.

The Cardinal took the doubles point with wins at 1 and 3, but Cal was able to put a quick point on the board, with Karla Popovic defeating Melissa Lord 6-3, 6-3 at line 2.  The teams had split first sets, and Cal's Olivia Hauger forced a third set against Caroline Lampl at line 4, but Stanford's Emma Higuchi and Caroline Doyle forced third sets at lines 6 and 1 and it was Doyle who ended up supplying the fourth point. After Taylor Davidson's win over Denise Starr made it 2-1 Stanford, Emily Arbuthnott closed out Maya Jansen at line 5, and before those following the two matches on the lower courts could make it back to the upper four courts, Doyle had beaten the underhand-serving Maegan Manasse 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 giving the defending NCAA champions the conference's automatic bid into this year's team event in Athens.

Peter Smith receives Thacher trophy from former Ojai Valley Club President Alan Rains

In the nightcap, USC and UCLA were meeting for the conference tournament title for the fifth time in the six years the men's event has existed, and the large and enthusiastic crowd was treated to a classic, with freshman Brandon Holt delivering the deciding point in the Trojans 4-3 victory.

The doubles point was decided in a tiebreaker at line 2, after USC had taken line 3 and UCLA line 1. Nick Crystal and Laurens Verboven clinched it for the Trojans with a 7-6(2) win over Joe Di Giulio and Austin Rapp.

As Cal had done after losing the doubles point in the women's final, UCLA countered quickly in singles, with Martin Redlicki earning a 6-2, 6-2 win over Crystal at line 2.  USC took a 3-1 lead with Logan Smith beating Evan Zhu 7-5, 6-1 at line 3 and Thibault Forget defeating Di Giulio 6-2, 7-5 at line 5, but UCLA fought back, with Logan Staggs completing a comeback at line 4, beating Jack Jaede 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 after Maxime Cressy had finished off Riley Smith at line 6 7-6(2), 6-4.  That left Holt and Gage Brymer to decide the championship, with their third set at line 1 the sole focus. Holt had won a long, tough first set 7-5, with Brymer taking the second set 6-3.

Stands were packed at Libbey Park's Upper Courts for Men's Final
With the entire crowd now gathered around court 1, the atmosphere alternated between hushed silence followed by raucous cheers from Holt's and Brymer's teammates depending on the outcome of every point.  Holt had his opportunities to go ahead, but Brymer won a deciding point to hold for 3-3 and fought off three break points to hold for 4-4. But after Holt held with no trouble to take a 5-4 lead, Brymer again found himself facing break (and now match) points, going down 0-40.  He saved two of them, but a big forehand by Holt on the third forced the error, igniting a joyful USC celebration on the court and also in the stands.

The win gives USC a split in this year's Pac-12 conference championships, with UCLA having earned the regular season title with a 4-1 victory over the Trojans on April 21st.

More on the finals can be found at the Pac-12 website.

Complete results are below:

April 29, 2017 | Libbey Park (Ojai, Calif.)

Women's Pac-12 Final
No. 6 Stanford 4, No. 16 California 1

1) No. 82 Arbuthnott/Davidson (STAN) d. No. 36 Jansen/Manasse (CAL) 6-3*
2) Hauger/Popovic (CAL) led No. 43 Doyle/Lord (STAN) 4-3, susp.
3) Higuchi/Lampl (STAN) d. Stephane Lin/Starr (CAL) 6-2
Order of Finish: 3, 1

1) No. 41 Caroline Doyle (STAN) d. No. 38 Maegan Manasse (CAL) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3*
2) No. 13 Karla Popovic (CAL) d. No. 26 Melissa Lord (STAN) 6-3, 6-3
3) No. 59 Taylor Davidson (STAN) d. No. 124 Denise Starr (CAL) 6-4, 6-3
4) Olivia Hauger (CAL) led No. 90 Caroline Lampl (STAN) 6-7(1), 6-2, 1-0, susp.
5) Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) d. Maya Jansen (CAL) 6-1, 7-6(1)
6) No. 72 Emma Higuchi (STAN) led Maria Smith (CAL) 4-6, 6-0, 2-1, susp.
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 5, 1
*clinching match
Men's Pac-12 Final
#7 USC 4, #5 UCLA 3

(1) #7 Redlicki/Zhu (UCLA) def. #11 Holt/R. Smith (USC) - 7-5
(2)#80 Crystal/Laurens Verboven (USC) def. Austin Rapp/Di Giulio (UCLA) - 7-6(2)*
(3) Rob Bellamy/Jaede (USC) def. Cressy/ Ben Goldberg (UCLA) - 6-2
Order of finish: 3, 1, 2

(1) #23 Brandon Holt (USC) def. #22 Gage Brymer (UCLA) - 7-5, 3-6, 6-4*
(2) #56 Martin Redlicki (UCLA) def. Nick Crystal (USC) - 6-2, 6-3
(3) #82 Logan Smith (USC) def. Evan Zhu (UCLA) - 7-5, 6-1
(4) Logan Staggs (UCLA) def. Jack Jaede (USC) - 3-6, 7-5, 6-0
(5) Thibault Forget (USC) def. Joseph Di Giulio (UCLA) - 6-2, 7-5
(6) Maxime Cressy (UCLA) def. Riley Smith (USC) - 7-6(2), 6-4
Order of finish: 2, 3, 5, 6, 4, 1

*clinching match