ATHENS, Ga. - The No. 16 Columbia men's tennis squad battled, but fell to No. 1 University of Southern California, 5-0, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men's Tennis Team Championships, hosted by the University of Georgia.
Columbia finishes the season at 22-2, the best overall record in the NCAA (fewest losses). Columbia's two losses were to No. 3 Georgia, and No. 1 USC.
"USC has won four of the last five national championships, a number of them here (at the University of Georgia). I think the doubles point was extremely important in this match," Associate Head Coach Howard Endelman said. "We were up a couple breaks at No. 2 and a break at No. 3. Southern Cal is known to be really good frontrunners. When they get up on you they loosen up and they play with a lot of confidence. The doubles point is always important, but especially today. They are a little better team than we are, so we needed to come in and stun them quickly, and that didn't happen."
In doubles, the No. 12 duo of Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur had their work cut out for them facing the No. 1 team of Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento. Narayana and Schnur lost 8-4 at No. 1 doubles, while Dragos Ignat and Richard Pham battled in an 8-6 loss at No. 3. Winston Lin and Mike Vermeer were up 6-5 at No. 2 when USC secured the doubles point, so their match went unfinished.
Michael Grant gave USC a quick 2-0 lead when he beat Vermeer at No. 6 singles. Ignat fell to #42 Roberto Quiroz, 6-2, 6-1 to give the Trojans a 3-0 advantage. Vancura and Schnur finished their matches in quick succession, giving USC the final 5-0 victory. Schnur fell to #9 Ray Samiento, 6-3, 6-2 and Vancura lost to Eric Johnson 6-4, 6-4.
In unfinished matches, Lin dropped his first set to #10 Hanfmann, but was up 4-2 in the second set. Narayana was up a set, and trailing 5-4 in the second.
"It has been a remarkable, remarkable year for us. We could not be any prouder of what this team has accomplished," Endelman said. "Every team has goals, but if you would have told us in the beginning of the year that we'd play the entire 2014 season with just two losses, one to No. 3 Georgia and the other No. 1 USC, both in National Tournaments? I think we'd take it. It is easy to be disappointed because our mentality is we don't want to back down from anyone, but that being said when we reflect on this year, we know how special it was and how blessed we are to have such a unique group of players."
#1 USC (29-3) def. #16 COLUMBIA (22-2), 5-0 - Henry Feild Stadium
Doubles (Order of finish: 1,3)
1. #1 Yannick Hanfmann/Ray Sarmiento (USC) def. #12 Ashok Narayana/Max Schnur (COLUMBIA), 8-4
2. Connor Farren/Roberto Quiroz (USC) vs. Winston Lin/Mike Vermeer (COLUMBIA), 5-6, unf.
3. Max de Vroome/Eric Johnson (USC) def. Richard Pham/Dragos Ignat (COLUMBIA), 8-6
Singles (Order of finish: 6,3,5,2)
1. #10 Yannick Hanfmann (USC) vs. #17 Winston Lin (COLUMBIA), 6-3, 2-4, unf.
2. #9 Ray Sarmiento (USC) def. Max Schnur (COLUMBIA), 6-3, 6-2
3. #42 Roberto Quiroz (USC) def. Dragos Ignat (COLUMBIA), 6-2, 6-1
4. #91 Max de Vroome (USC) vs. Ashok Narayana (COLUMBIA), 4-6, 5-4, unf.
5. Eric Johnson (USC) vs. Bert Vancura (COLUMBIA), 6-4, 6-4
6. Michael Grant (USC) def. Mike Vermeer (COLUMBIA), 6-0, 6-1