Survive and advance. For one UCLA tennis team, they managed to just barely hold on, while for another, the season ended in a gut-wrenching close, hard-fought semi-final defeat. But, while our #7-seeded women's tennis team is going home earlier than we'd all like, having fallen to #3-seeded Texas A&M 4-3, our #1-seeded men's tennis team will be playing for the national title this morning against #2-seeded Virginia at 11 a.m. PST in Illinois.
As for the ladies, the Bruins got off to a good start, picking up a hard-fought doubles point (8-5, 9-7) to take the early advantage. Unfortunately, the Aggies were up for the fight, with Robin Anderson falling in the first singles match (1-6, 3-6). Catherine Harrison picked up the next point (6-4, 6-2), with freshman sensation Kyle McPhillips following with another point (2-6, 6-0, 6-1). Courtney Dolehide dropped her match (6-7, 1-6) to give the Aggies life at 3-2, and Pamela Montez couldn't close out (4-6, 2-6) to even it all up at 3-3. With the season riding on Chanelle Van Nguyen, she put up a hell of a fight, but eventually fell (3-6, 7-6 (9), 4-6) to give the Aggies the fourth and final point and end UCLA's season.
For the men, #5-seeded Ohio State gave them a hard fight, bringing the Bruins perfect run in the NCAA tournament to an end. Fortunately for UCLA, while perfection is out of the picture, they did just enough to hold on and advance, winning 4-3. The Bruins got stated right, picking up the doubles point (8-4, 8-3) and picking up the first singles point of the day, with Clay Thompson winning in strong fashion (6-1, 6-1). But the Buckeyes mounted a fight-back, picking up the next singles point, with Dennis Mkrtchian losing (1-6, 3-6). Karue Sell got UCLA's next singles point in very close fashion (6-4, 7-6 (5)), but Adrien Puget couldn't get UCLA the fourth point it needed, losing a tight one (2-6, 6-7 (5)). Needing just one point to win, Dennis Novikov also came up short, losing to Ohio State's Blaz Rola (7-5, 3-6, 2-6). With everything tied up at 3, the Bruins' season came down to Marcos Giron, who took it all the way to the end, barely winning (4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4). Not the prettiest win, but it's enough.
So, for the first time since 2005, our men's tennis team will be playing for a national championship. Once again, the match will be available through the University of Illinois, both live statistics, as well as a live video feed. The action gets underway at 11 a.m. PST. Hopefully, when all is said and done, Westwood will be welcoming home NCAA title #109.
Fire away with your thoughts, updates, and reactions in this NCAA men's tennis national championship thread.