No. 7 Trojans square off with No. 36 Florida State and No. 15 Florida
March 14, 2011
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The No. 7 USC men hit the road this week as they travel to face No. 36 Florida State for the second time this season Tuesday (March 15) followed by a showdown on Thursday (March 17) with No. 15 Florida. It wil be the second meeting of the season with Florida State and the first with Florida since 2003.
ITA RANKING UPDATES
The latest 2011 Campbell/ITA national rankings were released March 8, with the back-to-back national champs now ranked No. 7 in the nation after sitting at No. 2 for the first stretch of the year. New individual rankings also came out March 1, with four Trojans ranked in singles and two doubles teams in the mix. Steve Johnson leads the pack as the nation's new #1 singles player -- a spot he last achieved a year ago. His fellow junior Daniel Nguyen also remains in the top-20, ranking #19 in singles ahead of two more Trojans: #44 Jaak Poldma and #56 Ray Sarmiento. In doubles, USC's ranked teams are #48 Johnson/Sarmiento and #64 Johnson/Nguyen.
SCOUTING FLORIDA STATE
The Seminoles are currenly ranked No. 36 in the nation and hold a 6-7 record after dropping seven of their last nine matches including a 6-1 loss to USC at Marks Stadium in January. Florida State has two players ranked in singles (#21 Vahid Mirzadeh, #60 Clint Bowles)and one team in doubles (#13 Conor Smith/ Vahid Mirzadeh). USC is 1-0 all-time against the Seminoles with a win in their match earlier this season.
The Gators are currently ranked No. 15 in the nation and hold a 11-3 record while riding a four match win streak. Florida has three players ranked in singles (#6 Alexandre Lacroix, #32 Sekou Bangoura Jr. , #125 Nasim Slilam) and two teams in doubles (#20 Slilam/Lacroix, #150 Michael Alford/Sekou Bangoura Jr.). USC is 2-2 all-time against the Gators losing in their last meeting 0-4 in 2003.
The No. 6 USC men's tennis team had a strong week of play as they took down No. 3 Texas and No. 27 Louisville with a pair of 5-2 wins at Marks Stadium. No.1 Steve Johnson extended his win streak to 11 matches while No. 44 Jaak Poldma pushed his streak to 13 as the pair both went 2-0 in singles action. The Trojans received standout performances from No. 19 Daniel Nguyen and freshman Emilio Gomez who both had two singles wins and also paired up for two doubles victories. USC improves to 12-2 overall for the season with the victories.
USC took its first losses of the year and first back-to-back defeats since 2008 with two tight losses at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle. The Trojans were edged out 4-3 by No. 17 Duke first, and then fell by the same score to No. 7 Stanford. USC rebounded on day three of the competition, however, and pounded its way to a 4-0 shutout of No. 12 Louisville to wrap things up. Steve Johnson and Jaak Poldma were the lone Trojans to win all three of their singles matches out in Seattle, and Poldma and JT Sundling were victorious all the way through on the doubles courts as well.
Senior Jaak Poldma snagged his second career pick as the Pac-10 Player of the Week after his strong singles showing in the Trojans' home win over Pepperdine. Poldma had the match-clinching singles win with his upset of the Waves' #14 Sebastian Fanselow at the No. 2 singles positions to get USC a 5-2 win over No. 20 Pepperdine. USC was ahead 3-2 in the match with the Waves when Poldma gutted out a second-set tiebreak to secure a 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory and net the seventh straight win of the year for the Trojans. Poldma entered the matchup ranked #94 in the nation in singles. Now #44 in the land, Poldma currently holds a 21-3 overall singles record and is riding a 13 match winning streak with a perfect singles run in USC dual matches so far.
Steve Johnson now holds a 24-3 overall singles record, including a current 11-match winning streak over some of the country's stiffest competition to land atop the latest ITA/Campbell National Rankings as the No. 1 player in men's collegiate tennis. Johnson came into the spring ranked No. 6 overall and his move to No. 1 brings him back to the top slot that he also held during parts of the 2010 season. Johnson's three losses have come against the country's current No. 3, 7, and 8 players. Since the start of the spring slate, Johnson has gone 14-1 in singles play and compiled wins in his last 11 matches. During his win streak, Johnson secured wins over four top-15 players, including two impressive straight-set victories over Pac-10 rival No. 7 Bradley Klahn of Stanford.
Steve Johnson shoved his way through three more highly ranked players at the ITA National Team Indoors, netting himself his second career honors as the Pac-10 Player of the Week. Then ranked #4, Johnson first took down #10 Henrique Cunha of Duke in three sets and then went on cruise control as he served up straight-set wins in his next two matches. The next victim was one of his top Pac-10 rivals, #7 Bradley Klahn of Stanford, whom he topped with a solid 6-2, 6-3 win after having fallen to Klahn in January at the Sherwood Collegiate Cup. Against Louisville, Johnson had the clinching win for the Trojans with his 6-3, 6-3 win over #11 Austen Childs.
WELCOME TO THE PAC
In just his second week of competition with the Trojans, freshman Emilio Gomez earned his first selection as Pac-10 Player of the Week. Gomez hit his stride in picking up three doubles and three singles victories in a winning week of action for USC. Playing doubles with Daniel Nguyen, Gomez clinched the doubles point for USC in all three matches. In singles, Gomez fell in his first set during USC's midweek clash with #27 Florida State, but lost just six games in the next six sets played as he went 3-for-3 in singles action as well. His win against San Diego State clinched the match for the Trojans. Gomez openedhis USC career with a 4-0 singles mark and a 5-0 run in doubles with Nguyen. Gomez is the first Trojan to win the weekly award this season. He's now 10-3 in singles and 9-4 in doubles with Nguyen.
STARTING AT SHERWOOD
USC gathered up some good wins in its 2011 kickoff at the Sherwood Collegiate Cup, with Steve Johnson reaching the singles title match while his Trojan teammates managed to sweep the consolation crowns. JT Sundling rebounded from an opening loss to work his way to the consolation singles title, while Daniel Nguyen and Peter Lucassen replicated that effort on the consolation doubles courts.
This year, half the USC ladder knows what it takes to win two NCAA Championships, and five players return from the 2010 title-winning team. Senior Jaak Poldma and juniors Steve Johnson and Daniel Nguyen each hold a pair of national championship rings. Senior Peter Lucassen and sophomore JT Sundling picked up their first last year, when USC finished as champs with a 25-3 overall record after taking second in the Pac-10 at 5-1. Altogether, it's a pool of experience that USC head coach and 2010 ITA National Coach of the Year Peter Smith is eager to dip into for a run at defending the Trojans' back-to-back titles.
Two Trojans are now batting 1.000 in dual-match singles play to date. Jaak Poldma is a perfect 13-0, and Steve Johnson is a clean 11-0. Ray Sarmiento took his second loss when he had to retire from his ninth dual-match singles match due to injury, giving him an 9-2 mark to date.
FALL'S DOUBLE DOMINATION
Captain Jaak Poldma is the resident veteran of the team as he entered his fourth season as a Trojan ranked No. 94 on the singles scene. He had an extremely successful fall season in winning the Southern California Intercollegiate singles title as well as the doubles crown alongside teammate JT Sundling. Sundling and Poldma remain USC's winningest doubles duo with a 16-4 overall record and a 10-3 mark in dual match action.
2011 TROJANS TAKE SHAPE
As the nation's No. 6 ranked singles player, junior Steve Johnson is an easy fit back into the No. 1 singles position for the Trojans, with Jaak Poldma and Daniel Nguyen already proven winners and Peter Lucassen and JT Sundling also having gleaned plenty of winning experience after a year as Trojans. Added to the formula for this season are three new freshmen -- Michael Grant, Ray Sarmiento and Corey Smith. Grant and Sarmiento had strong fall seasons, with Sarmiento factoring in quickly as a doubles gun as well. Newcomer Emilio Gomez also enters the picture this season in coming to Troy from Ecuador this spring.