Men’s tennis season ends in NCAA quarterfinals

The Trojans before their match against San Diego State. USC finished the season with a close loss to No. 4 Texas. (David Martinez | Daily Trojan)

The No. 12 men’s tennis team ended their season Thursday after a 4-3 loss to No. 4 Texas in the NCAA Team Championship quarterfinals. The Trojans end their 2021 season with an overall record of 23-7. 

On courts one, two and three, the Trojans started with their doubles, which came down to a tiebreaker later in the matchups. Sophomore Stefan Dostanic and junior Bradley Frye set the tone early for the Trojans as they won their match 6-2. Texas would split the pair against junior Jake Sands and sophomore Ryder Jackson, who won 6-4. 

Court one was the deciding factor as the Trojans were up in the set until the Longhorns returned and got the doubles point from a 7-6(4) decision against senior Daniel Cukierman and redshirt senior Riley Smith. 

Looking to focus on singles play and redeem themselves, USC found themselves down early. 

Smith was defeated quickly by Longhorns No. 38 Micah Braswell in two sets — 6-4, 6-3. Sands put the first point on the board for the Trojans, winning in two sets after being down 0-3 in the first set to cap off the victory 6-4, 6-4 against Evin Mcdonald. 

At 2-1, the Trojans put their eyes toward their remaining courts to make it a close score as the matches would all end in three sets. 

No. 49 Cukierman won the first set of his intense battle against No. 23 Eliot Spirrizzi from Texas at 6-4. Cukierman would lose the second set 2-6 in a fiery third-set tiebreaker. Cukierman would leave no room for error in the tiebreaker as he finished the third set 6-1 to tie the score for the day at 2-2 for the Trojans. 

As the Trojans looked to take the lead for the day against the Longhorns, they found themselves down again. 

Freshman Lodewijk Weststrate lost in the three sets to Chih Chi Huang 6-2, 0-6, 6-3 to boost the margin for Texas to 3-2 as two more courts played to the end. 

No. 116 Dostanic gained some momentum for the Trojans with a win against No. 75 Siem Woldeab in three sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to tie the total tally at 3-3. Court four would determine who would win the matchup. 

Frye would give No. 108 Cleeve Harper everything he possibly could. He battled back to force a third set and had a tiebreaker on the last. However, it was not enough to beat Harper as Frye would lose to Harper 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. 

A back and forth battle resulted in a loss for the Trojans with Texas winning the matchup 4-3 and advanced to the NCAA semifinals. 

While USC’s season has come to an end, there were few players who had the chance to continue representing the Trojans. 

Cukierman and Smith, who both won their singles matches on Sunday played in the Round of 32 Monday.  While Smith lost in straight sets to No. 5 Valentin Vacherot, Cukierman excelled. Cukierman upset No. 37 Matej Vocel to advance to the Round of 16 where he fell in a close 6-4, 7-6 (5) match against No. 2 Daniel Rodrigues. Cukierman’s appearance in the Round of 16 marked the first time in his career.

Despite the losses, the doubles squad of Cukierman and Smith won their Round of 32 match Monday and their Round of 16 match Tuesday. They’ll play their quarterfinals match Wednesday.