Trojans score third place in weekend championship

Although USC’s club tennis team did not walk away as champion of the USTA National Tennis On-Campus Championships in Cary, N.C., it did reach a high point in the organization’s history in a satisfying finish to the 2012 season.

After placing first place in its pool, USC advanced two rounds in the Gold division bracket before narrowly falling 24-21 to the eventual champions Cal in the semifinals on Saturday.

With the title out of reach, USC then defeated Cal Poly 27-17 to take third place overall in the competition.

“That was kind of our punctuation mark for the season, and I think it was an exclamation mark to be honest,” senior Madeline Segura said. “We did better than we’ve ever done before.”

The team of ten USC students began the 64-team tournament in round robin play on Thursday against James Madison University, Northeastern University, and University of Missouri – Columbia.

After taking down the three teams to a combined score of 85-33, USC advanced to bracket play, where they defeated UC Davis 25-20 and South Florida 25-19 on Friday en route to their matchup with Cal.

“As soon as we got into bracket play, it was a fight every single match. We played really hard, and we proved ourselves as a really competitive team,” Segura said.

Last year, USC had to forfeit its invitation to the Nationals because several players had to pull out of the competition.

The matches, modeled after the World TeamTennis format, were decided by games won rather than sets won. The five sets of six games each were divided into men’s, women’s and mixed doubles and men’s and women’s singles.

Senior Jordan Rees and freshman Colin Tseng paired up in men’s doubles alongside seniors Ashley Ohira and Segura in women’s doubles. Tseng also joined graduate Amber Brightly in mixed doubles.

Senior Amanda Ellis and sophomore Dave Warren represented USC in singles in their respective genders. Sophomores Alden Mitchell and Yaron Steinfeld served as alternates for the team, while junior Allen Jebsen stood by as captain of the squad.

“We’re all extremely proud of each other. It’s as big of an indication as it can be in not going to the Nationals last year and placing third and losing to the eventual champions,” Jebsen said. “We’re going to go on to bigger and better things next year.”

USC’s club team is part of the USC Tennis Club, which offers competitive tennis to over 250 members of all talent levels. Segura, who is president of USC Tennis Club, appreciated the chance to compete after the team missed out last year.

“Four of us are seniors, and we didn’t get to go last year, so this was a great way for us to end our time at USC,” Segura said.

Despite falling short of its title aspirations, USC’s Club team already has its eyes set on next year and another shot at the crown.

“Although we’re pretty bummed we didn’t make it to the finals, we’re brimming with excitement about next year because we know exactly what we need to do,” Jebsen said.