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USC’s Van’t Hof picks up two titles

Special to The Times

It was a day of firsts at the Pacific 10 Conference championships at the 108th Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament on Sunday at Libbey Park.

Senior Kaes Van’t Hof won the first all-USC men’s singles final in 12 years with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory over doubles partner and fraternity brother Robert Farah, then teamed with Farah to win the doubles championship, 6-4, 6-4, over Arizona State’s T.J. Bellama and Matt Brooklyn.

“It’s always tough when you’re playing your buddy,” Van’t Hof said in reference to his sophomore teammate. “I’m the big bro and he’s the little bro, although he’s gotten a lot better than me.

“But we’re keeping it fun. We agreed that the loser has to e-mail everyone in SAE [Sigma Alpha Epsilon] telling them to watch the other guy beat him at such and such a time on Fox Sports West.”

Taking the singles championship on his final try was especially gratifying for Van’t Hof, whose father Robert played in three consecutive finals for USC, winning in 1978 and 1980.

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They are the first father and son to win the intercollegiate singles championship since it was added to the Ojai tournament in 1911.

“Having my dad here to share the moment is the best part of this whole thing because he’s the one who taught me the game since I was 3,” said Van’t Hof, who joins his father, Dennis Ralston, Stan Smith and Wayne Black as the only Trojans to win the conference’s singles and doubles championships in the same year.

Earlier on Sunday, UCLA senior Riza Zalameda beat USC junior Amanda Fink, 6-3, 6-4, for the Pac-10 women’s singles championship.

Zalameda, who won the doubles crown last year with Yasmin Schnack, became the third player in Bruins’ history to win the singles and doubles titles.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m sure when I graduate this win will be at the top of my list,” said Zalameda, who began the week ranked 14th in the ITA rankings and wants to pursue a professional career after college.

“Playing so much doubles growing up has really helped my singles game, especially my serve and volley,” she added. “It’s made my game more multidimensional.”

Fink rebounded to win the doubles championship with Gabriela Niculescu, 7-5, 6-1, over Cal’s Claire Ilcinkas and Marina Cossou.

It was the first time USC made the women’s singles and doubles finals of the Pac-10 championships.


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