By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Jake Sands has experienced many thrilling victories in his tennis career, but none have meant more than Saturday’s 7-6 (5), 6-1 victory over Cal’s Jacob Brumm to clinch the Pac-12 Tournament championship at Libbey Park in Ojai. Senior Brandon Holt (son of tennis great Tracy Austin) ripped off Sands’ headset before teammates poured a bucket of icewater over his head, cutting his postmatch on-court interview short, but the Trojans’ freshman phenom didn’t seem to mind.
“It was very physical up and down,” Sands said of the first set tiebreaker at the No. 5 singles spot. “I was up most of it and then I served twice to stay back in it. Just a very brutal tiebreaker but I pulled it out and right when I won it [teammate] Mor [Bulis] split sets so that just shows how long it was. We faced a lot of adversity at the beginning of the season so I’m really happy we’re pulling it together and I’m pumped for the NCAAs.”
Sands not only notched the clinching singles point in the sweep over the Bears, he did the same in a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Washington’s Sebastian Hawken in the quarterfinals and cruised past Stanford’s Timothy Sah 6-3, 6-0 in USC’s 4-2 semifinal win.
Sands grew up in the Palisades and made history as a junior at Palisades High in 2017 when he helped the Dolphins capture the Griggs Cup at Ojai by winning the CIF singles title—the first Palisades player to win the prestigious event since John Davis in 1980. Sands also led Palisades to its first National High School All-American title in Newport Beach. His brother RJ is a sophomore at Penn. Their father Howard played tennis at Harvard and was the school’s first All-American.