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Wildcat Wrap: Arizona men’s tennis pulls off historic sweep of USC, UCLA

Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

As Arizona softball was wrapping up a series sweep of Oregon State Sunday afternoon, a loud eruption could be heard at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.

A few feet down the University of Arizona mall, the Wildcats men’s tennis program had just defeated UCLA, leading to a celebration for the ages.

By knocking off the Bruins, No. 19 Arizona earned a home sweep of No. 15 USC and No. 22 UCLA and solidified its place atop the Pac-12 standings.

The two wins were historic. The Wildcats entered the weekend 2-102 all-time against USC and 1-72 against UCLA. Only a few years ago sweeping the Trojans and Bruins would have been unthinkable.

Now it’s Arizona who the rest of the Pac-12 is looking up to. Under head coach Clancy Shields, the Wildcats are 17-4 and undefeated in conference play.

They entered Friday’s match against USC coming off three straight losses from a bruising Big 12 road trip but quickly regained momentum by winning the doubles point. USC won three of the first four singles points, putting Arizona in a 3-2 hole with two games in play.

On the second seed court, Arizona’s No. 30 ranked Gustaf Strom upset the No. 12 Riley Smith 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3. Then Carlos Hassey clinched the match for the Wildcats by taking down No. 122 Lodewjk Westrate 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.

It was Arizona’s first win against USC since 2000.

Sunday was Senior Day for the Wildcats, who wasted no time taking down UCLA in a 4-1 victory. After losing doubles, Arizona swept through singles play highlighted by No. 59 Jonas Ziverts upsetting No. 48 Keegan Smith on the top seeded court 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Nick Lagaev clinched the match for Arizona with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 comeback win over Matthew Tsolakyan.

Arizona now hits the road for its four remaining regular season matches. The Wildcats face Cal and Stanford this Friday and Sunday, then take on Utah and Arizona State later in April.

Women’s Tennis

Arizona women’s tennis rode the momentum of the men’s team to pick up 6-1 win over New Mexico State Monday. The win snaps a two match losing streak for the Wildcats, who improve to 10-8 on the season.

Arizona swept the doubles point, then earned wins on all but one singles court. Jelena Lukic clinched the match with a comeback 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7) win over Chloe Gavino.

The two schools will face off again Tuesday.

Beach volleyball

Beach volleyball opened Pac-12 play over the weekend with three wins and one loss. The Wildcats hosted the Pac-12 South Invitational, which began with a 3-2 defeat to No. 18 Stanford. It was only Arizona’s second loss of the season, the first coming on the road to No. 5 Cal Poly.

The Wildcats responded nicely, earning 5-0 sweeps over Oregon and Utah before wrapping up the invitational with a 4-1 win over rival ASU.

“This was exactly what the doctor ordered for our team,” Arizona head coach Steve Walker said Sunday. “We needed to see this kind of competition, and needed to respond better than we did in past weeks. I was proud of our group’s competitive spirit. But we can’t relax. There’s always great competition on the horizon, but I love going to work with this collection of players.”

The Wildcats next host the Arizona Invitational this coming weekend, where they’ll play UC Davis, Grand Canyon, Missouri State and Pepperdine.

Track and Field

Track and Field competed at the Aztec Invitational this past weekend where several athletes recorded nationally competitive scores.

In the men’s hammer throw, Israel Oloyede threw a personal record 69.20m (227-0) for the second best mark in the NCAA. Teammate Jordan Geist was right behind at 68.35m (224-3), a PR and the third best mark nationally.

Also on the men’s side, Jakob Chamberlin earned the ninth best NCAA mark in the discuss throw with a PR of 54.51m (178-10).

Women’s discuss thrower Samantha Noennig threw a 54.62m (179-2) mark, the 10th best in the country.

On the track, the men’s 4x400m relay posted a 3:06.49 for the second best time nationally, while the men’s 4x100m relay earned a 39.82, the seventh best mark in the NCAA.

For the event, the men finished fourth overall while the women placed seventh. They next compete at the Antelope Invitational at GCU on April 3.

Men’s swimming and diving

The men’s swimming and diving earned a 12th place team finish at the NCAA Championships over the weekend, their top showing since 2014.

Brooks Fail earned All-American honors by placing third in the 500 free, fourth in the 1650 free, and eighth in the 200 fly. Fail’s 1650 free time of 14:31.38 was the best in school history.

David Schlicht also was named All-American for placing sixth in the 200 IM and fourth in the 400 IM.

Women’s golf

Women’s golf finished eighth at the PING/ASU Invitational in what head coach Laura Ianello considered a disappointing showing.

After being in the hunt for the lead through two rounds, Arizona faltered on the third and final round of the three-day event. The Wildcats recorded a 7-over par for the third round, compared to a 1-over par the day before.

The team finished 12-over par for the event, 14 strokes behind co-champions ASU and Oregon. Yu-Sang Hou led the group with a 1-over par, which placed her tied-17th individually.

“We unfortunately were not able to make a move up the leaderboard today, but we will grow from this tournament,” Ianello said. “This weekend was a challenging event against a lot of good teams. We’ve got a tournament in California before the Pac-12 Championships, so we will get a good week of practice in and show we have grown from this when we tee off at the Silverado Showdown.”