The No. 8 USC men’s tennis team traveled to the annual Pac-12/SEC Challenge in Gainsville, Fla. this weekend, and the Trojans split their two matches, suffering their first loss of the year to host No. 11 Florida to kick off the tournament on Saturday before grabbing an upset victory over No. 5 Georgia on Sunday.
USC picked up the doubles point to open the match against the Gators. After the pair of senior Nick Crystal and sophomore Laurens Verboven beat Florida’s Chase Perez-Blanco and Maxx Lipman 6-3, senior Rob Bellamy and sophomore Jack Jaede put the Trojans on the board with a 7-5 win over McClain Kessler and Elliott Orkin.
But Florida stormed back to take four singles wins to secure victory, beating Crystal, sophomore Logan Smith, freshman Riley Smith and junior Thibault Forget. Jaede and freshman Brandon Holt tallied the last two points of the day, winning 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (6) and 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 over their Gator opponents, respectively, but the duo could only narrow the final margin of defeat to one point as USC fell 4-3.
After taking their first loss of the season on Saturday, the Trojans took on fifth-ranked Georgia on Sunday. Their 4-0 victory against the Bulldogs closed out the annual tournament in style, opening with a quick doubles victory by way of Bellamy and Jaede, who notched a 6-2 win over Georgia’s Wayne Montgomery and Nathan Ponwith. Minutes later, Holt and Riley Smith secured a 6-4 win to score the match’s first point.
Bellamy went on to beat Robert Loeb 6-2, 6-3, and Holt followed by setting USC up for a clincher with his 6-1, 6-4 victory over Emil Reinberg. Jaede then closed out the upset with a 6-1, 7-6 victory against Walker Duncan to send the Trojans home with a win.
USC will continue play with a doubleheader on Friday, as the Trojans host UC Davis and San Francisco at Marks Stadium.