Top seeded men’s tennis sophomore Daniel Cukierman captured the Southern California Intercollegiate Singles title after a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory in the finals over Stanford’s senior Sameer Kumar on Monday at David Marks Stadium.
On the singles side, freshman Bradley Frye had to qualify for the tournament, which was hosted by USC, while his three teammates were direct entries into the event. In the singles main draw, Frye was the only Trojan who lost. Cukierman advanced with a tight 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 win. Junior Riley Smith and senior Jack Jaede both had an easier time with a 6-2, 6-4 win and a 6-2, 6-1, respectively.
The Round of 16 saw all three remaining Trojans advance: Cukierman with a 6-4, 6-2 victory, Jaede with a 6-3, 6-2 win and Smith with a 6-4, 6-4 upset of the eight seed. The quarterfinals Saturday proved to be less fortuitous, as both Smith and Jaede fell to the two and four seeds in three sets. However, Cukierman advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over freshman Eric Hahn from UCLA.
“[Head coach Peter Smith] told me that he wanted me to use my legs a lot, move forward with the ball, take it early and come to the net,” Cukierman said.
Cukierman pulled out a hard fought 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win to reach the finals in Sunday’s semifinals. He played in his first college singles championship on Monday and joined his teammates, seniors Laurens Verboven and Logan Smith, as a preseason individual collegiate tournament winner.
“We had a tough, very long match,” Cukierman said. “Both of us had [a] tough match yesterday with three sets … [Kumar is] a great player and a great guy. He played very well first set, and then I came back second set [for a] tough third set.”
The doubles side saw success from both teams as Frye and Jaede paired up and Smith joined Cukierman. The fourth-seeded team of Frye and Jaede reached the semifinals with wins over UC Irvine and UCLA. They eventually fell in the semifinals to the second seeded team of Kumar and sophomore Timothy Sah from Stanford. Smith and Cukierman were the top seed for the tournament and reached the semifinals with wins over Texas Tech and UC Irvine. The pair then lost in the semifinals to Azusa Pacific University.
“These are my first matches here at ’SC on these courts,” Frye said. “I’ve practiced here for the last two months, but this is my first match outside of that. I was nervous at first but it was awesome being out there with the team … it was fun, it didn’t end the way we needed it to, but we had fun.”
The Trojans had a good showing in the consolation draw. After losing to junior Josh Ortlip of Cal Poly during the first round of singles in the main draw, Frye advanced to the semifinals where he beat junior Antoine Noel 6-2, 6-1. Due to the absence of his finals opponent, freshman Matheus Leite from Texas Tech, Frye won by default in the singles championship in the consolation draw.
“I’m feeling great with a bunch of great guys,” Frye said. “[It’s my] first year here … it’s super exciting.”
The Trojans will participate in the Jack Kramer Invitational in Palos Verdes Nov. 1 -4.