All six remaining players from Southern California universities were eliminated Saturday in the NCAA men's tennis tournament at Athens, Ga.
Howard Joffe of Pepperdine lost a semifinal match to sixth-seeded Wade McGuire of Georgia, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, and second-seeded Jose Luis Noriega of the University of San Diego was upset by third-seeded Alex O'Brien, 6-0, 6-3.
In doubles, David Ekerot and Andras Lanyi of USC lost to second-seeded Chris Cocotos and O'Brien of Stanford, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4. Cocotos and O'Brien ousted Jeff Belloli and Chris Numbers of San Diego State in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-3.
Joffe, a junior from South Africa who is 36th on the Volvo Tennis/Collegiate Rankings, held a 3-2 lead in the final set before losing four of the final five games.
"I feel like I didn't choke," Joffe said. "I made him play all the points to beat me in the final set."
Joffe and McGuire combined for 17 service breaks in 30 games. McGuire held serve only seven times, but two of those closed out the first and third sets.
"I don't think I've ever been involved in a match like that, where nobody could hold serve," McGuire said. "He was closing in really tight. (Georgia Coach) Manuel (Diaz) told me to hit behind him and lob a lot. . . . In the third set, after I got broken, I just told myself to relax and play it out."
O'Brien defeated McGuire, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in a Stanford-Georgia dual match in the USTA/ITCA National Team Indoor Championships. If O'Brien wins in singles and doubles, he will be the first player to take both titles since John Whitlinger of Stanford in 1974.