“They are our biggest rivals,” said freshman Emilio Gomez. “It’s like you have to win. You have to be ready. Winning this here is amazing. I’m so proud of our team.”
After winning the doubles point with victories at the No. 1 and No. 3 spots, things became increasingly difficult for the Trojans (21-2, 6-0).
After losing his first set, Poldma lost the match for the first time this season in a grueling back-and-forth second set, which he ultimately lost to Amit Inbar.
Playing at No. 6 for the Trojans was senior Peter Lucassen, who won his first set but lost his second and third sets 6-4 and 6-1, eventually falling to UCLA’s Maxime Tabatruong. Freshmen Ray Sarmiento and Gomez were at No. 4 and No. 5, and both lost their first sets.
Sarmiento would make a decisive comeback in his second set, beating Adrien Puget 6-4. Gomez, too, was able to extend the match to three sets against Holden Seguso. “We were down and with Ray we came back,” Gomez said.
Sarmiento ended his match first, winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. With two matches remaining, USC led 3-2.
All eyes were on Gomez, who was up 4-3 in the third, but lost a game to the Bruins’ Seguso to even things up 4-4. The crowd went wild, swapping rivalry chants as Gomez secured a 5-4 edge after several grueling deuce points were played. He eventually prevailed 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“At the beginning, I was uncomfortable on the court,” Gomez said. “I kept fighting though. At first I was more defensive, and then I attacked.”