At an impasse of 3-3, all eyes lays on court five and junior Maxime Cressy.
“That last set put both players in a pressure cooker and (Cressy) really seemed to want to be there under that high pressure situation,” said coach Billy Martin.
After three match points, Cressy clinched the win for No. 2 UCLA men’s tennis (20-2, 5-0 Pac-12) over No. 13 USC (12-7, 3-2) on Friday, continuing a nine-match winning streak for the Bruins.
Cressy, who clinched the Bruins’ home match against the Trojans earlier this season, noted how the atmosphere at USC contributed to the mental challenge of the match.
“I was hearing a lot of heckling – people whispering in my ear while I was getting my towel,” Cressy said. “I just kept my composure and completely blocked out my surroundings.”
The Bruins began the crosstown battle by losing the doubles point for the first time in almost a month.
On court two, USC’s doubles pair of Jack Jaede and Laurens Verboven made quick work of the No. 11 doubles duo of senior Austin Rapp and freshman Keegan Smith.
Cressy and freshman Bryce Pereira secured their match on court three, leaving the doubles point up to court one.
“I’m very proud of (Pereira) because he really handled that doubles match well, especially as a freshman playing in these conditions at USC during a rivalry match,” Cressy said.
Senior Martin Redlicki and sophomore Evan Zhu, entrenched in battle with doubles pair Brandon Holt and Riley Smith, forced a tiebreaker on court one.
Initially in the tiebreak, Redlicki and Zhu went up 5-2 with Redlicki serving but fell just short by a final score of 6-7(5).
“I think we put ourselves in the right position,” Zhu said. “We just couldn’t execute on the big points.”
In singles, UCLA came out firing to take the first four sets. Smith was the first to finish his match against Jaede to even the score to 1-1.
“The guy that really spark plugged us is (Smith),” Martin said. “He really gave us hope that we could come back.”
Despite losses on courts four and six, Redlicki and Zhu defeated their opponents in matches on courts one and two, both in straight sets.
“The match I thought was key was (Zhu’s),” Martin said. “I thought (he) played a very poor match at UCLA but really turned it around (at USC).”
The Bruins will continue Pac-12 play as they travel to Arizona next weekend to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats.