USC Beats UCLA, 4-3, To Capture Pac-12 Championship

OJAI – In a Pac-12 Championship match for the ages at the history-steeped Ojai Tennis Tournament, USC freshman Brandon Holt outlasted UCLA senior Gage Brymer, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, at No. 1 singles to clinch the conference title for No. 7 USC, 4-3, over No. 5 UCLA before a standing-room-only crowd at Libbey Park.

Photo By Kirby Russell / Ojai Tennis Tournament

It was the fifth UCLA-USC final in the six years the Ojai Tennis Tournament has hosted the men’s Pac-12 Championships. Since The Ojai first hosted the Pac-12 men’s team championships in 2012, USC previously won it in 2012 and 2015, and UCLA in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

 USC’s Rob Bellamy and John Jaede won the first doubles set, 6-2, and the doubles point came down to a 7-6 tiebreaker win for Trojans senior Nick Crystal and Laurens Verboven. The Trojans increased their lead to 3-1 after Logan Smith and Thibault Forget collected singles victories, against Martin Redlicki’s point for the Bruins at No. 2 singles.

 Yet, momentum swung UCLA’s way as Logan Staggs and Austin Rapp polished off wins at Nos. 4 and 6 singles, respectively, in between Brymer winning the last point of the second set to even his match with Holt at a set apiece and the beginning of their third set.

 Suddenly, the Pac-12 title came down to one set between Brymer, who many have dubbed ‘Mr. Ojai’ for his three consecutive CIF Boys singles titles at The Ojai from 2011-13, and Holt, the 2014 CIF Boys doubles champ who was The Ojai’s Men’s Open doubles champ and Men’s Open singles finalist last year as a high schooler.

In the first Pac-12 Women’s (team) Championship at The Ojai, reigning NCAA Division I champion Stanford (No. 6 in NCAA Division I) captured the Pac-12 crown, 4-1, over Bay Area rival California (No. 16) and automatically secured its 36th consecutive berth in to the NCAA Division I Championships (May 18-29).

Stanford won the doubles point on the rackets of its No. 1 doubles team, Emily Arbuthnott and Taylor Davidson, who downed Cal’s top team of Maegan Manasse and Maya Jansen, 6-3. Cal’s Karla Popovic downed Melissa Lord, 6-3, 6-3 in No. 2 singles to give the Bears the first singles point and briefly even the match, but the Cardinal scored the final three singles points through Davidson (6-4, 6-3 over Denise Starr), Arbuthnott (6-1, 7-6 over Jansen) and No. 1 singles player Caroline Doyle, who outlasted Cal’s Manasse, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, to clinch the Pac-12 title.

The Ojai’s famed Men’s Open singles final will be contested between top seed Philip Bester (Vancouver, BC) and unseeded Henry Craig (Murrieta, Calif.) at 11 a.m. In the semifinals, Bester beat Los Angeles’ Haythem Abid, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), and Craig dispatched No. 3 seed and former UCLA product Clay Thompson, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

The Women’s Open singles final features No. 1 seed Megan McCray, of Oceanside, against No. 4 seed Salma Ewing, of Long Beach. Neither has lost a set this week.

The Ojai concluded play in the CIF Boys singles and doubles divisions. Palisades High junior Jake Sands defeated Woodbridge High sophomore Stefan Dostanic, 4-6, 7-5, 6-0, to win the coveted Ojai title. San Marino High seniors Bryce Pereira and Connor Lee repeated as CIF Boys doubles champions at The Ojai, defeating Harvard-Westlake’s Jed Kronenberg and Adam Sraberg, 6-4, 6-1, in the final.


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