The USF Men’s Tennis team hosted the Battle in the Bay Classic tennis tournament on October 13-16 at the California Tennis Club. With 3 NCAA championships in a row from 2009 to 2011, USC has once again proved that they are the best. This year Emilio Gomez took the title in men’s singles against Pepperdine’s Hugh Clarke. In Doubles, Pepperdine took home the title with Hugh Clarke and David Soefer winning 8-5 against Stanford’s Robert Stineman and Walker Kehrer. In singles consolation, USF Senior Thai Tu made up for his loss in the first round, by winning the final against Pepperdine’s David Sofaer.
Even though USF ended the tournament with a win, it didn’t start so smoothly. The first round of Battle in the Bay Classic saw the Dons coming home empty handed. Jacob Hartwig was the first Don to take the stage but got defeated by Cal’s Ahmed Ismail 6-4 7-5. The next Don to take the court was Thai Tu, last year’s finalist. Unfortunately for Tu, being injured for several months of last years season prevented him from achieving the same result as last tournament. Tu lost 6-1 and 6-3 to Cal’s Riki McLachlan. “It has been tough coming back, it’s frustrating because you want to play as well as you did before the injury but unfortunately it’s not always like that,” says Tu after his convincing win in the consolation round.
The other big upset of the day came from Pepperdine senior Hugh Clarke, who knocked down the number one seed from Boise State, Damian Hume 6-3 and 7-5. The other Dons were just as unlucky as Tu, with Mark DeCastro losing a heartbreaker 7-6 (6) 6-3 against Cal’s Andrew Scholnick and Will Shumacher losing 6-4, 6-2 against UOP’s Alex Golding.
However, the second day brought the first wins for the Dons with Thai Tu defeating UOP’s Eric Cedarwall 6-2 and 6-1. Sophomore Mark DeCastro had an even tougher match but managed to close out with a 7-6 (7) 6-4 win over UOP’s Alex Hamilton. Two other Dons were not able to manage a win with Jacob Hartwig barely losing 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 and 10-2 against Boise State’s star Damian Hume and Will Schumacher losing to Stanford’s Robert Stinemann 7-5 and 6-1.
In the main draw, Hugh Clarke continued his great run with an easy win over Cal’s Ahmed Ismail 6-1, 6-2. The number two seed, USC’s Emilio Gomez, continued to show his dominance by beating UOP’s Alex Golding 6-0, 6-1. In doubles, Cal’s Chase Melton and Tommie Murphy defeated number two seed, Saint Mary’s Mazim Olivan and Gavin Leon 8-2.
On the third day of the tournament, spectators were able to see some incredible tennis with an intense 3 set match between USC’s Johnny Wang and Stanford’s Daniel Ho, with the latter winning 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(2) in a face off lasting 2 hours and 45 minutes. Daniel Ho had to go back for his semifinal match an hour later but couldn’t hold for another three sets, losing to a more rested Hugh Clarke 3-6, 7-5, 7- 5. On the consolation side, Thai continued to cruise with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Saint Mary’s Gavin Leon and got a walk over from Damian Hume due to injury. Thai Tu will once again be in a final of the Battle in the Bay; I played for USF and can’t help but cheer for the Dons!
On the last day, the crowd gathered in mass to cheer on the players left in the finals. First, doubles took place on court one and the team of Hugh Clarke and David Sofaer from Pepperdine defeated Stanford’s Robert Stineman and Walker Kehrer 8-5. After a break, the USF ROTC took over the court for a presentation of the National Anthem. Then it was the singles finals to unfold. After an hour and a half of powerful tennis, USC and USF took the titles in singles and in the consolation respectively, versus Pepperdine on both courts. USF’s Thai Tu defeated Pepperdine’s David Soafaer 6-7 (4), 6-4, 10-6 for the consolation prize.