Men's Tennis
    No. 4 USC Men Host Pac-12/SEC Showdown This Weekend
    The Trojans team up against two SEC powers this weekend at Marks Stadium.
    The Trojans team up against two SEC powers this weekend at Marks Stadium.

    Jan. 30, 2014

    PAC-12/SEC SHOWDOWN
    The No. 4 USC men's tennis team is hosting a set of the nation's best teams -- the Trojans among them -- in the first edition of the Pac-12/SEC Showdown. Featuring four teams ranked in the top-11, the Showdown offers up some elite tennis to be played this weekend (Feb. 1-2) at Marks Stadium. Representing the Pac-12 along with the No. 4 Trojans is No. 2 UCLA. And while the Bruins come in from across town, No. 3 Georgia and No. 11 Florida will come across the country as representatives from the SEC. Action opens up on Saturday (Feb. 1) with a 10 a.m. clash between UCLA and Florida followed by a 1 p.m. matchup between host USC and Georgia. On Sunday (Feb. 2), Pac-12 Networks will be televising both matches -- with Paul Sunderland and Paul Goldstein on the call -- beginning with a 10 a.m. face-off between UCLA and Georgia. At 1 p.m., the Trojans are set to square off against Florida in the finale of the event.

    ITA RANKINGS UPDATES
    The Trojans -- winners of four consecutive NCAA Championships from 2009-2012 and the nation's leader with 20 total titles -- opened their 2014 campaign ranked No. 4 in the nation. USC remains slotted at No. 4 in the latest ITA team rankings (released Jan. 29). On the individual side, rankings came out Jan. 2. Senior Ray Sarmiento leads the pack, ranked No. 10 in the nation in singles. He is joined on the national rankings list by four more Trojans -- No. 32 junior Yannick Hanfmann, No. 67 junior Jonny Wang, No. 70 senior Michael Grant and No. 113 junior Roberto Quiroz.

    SCOUTING UCLA
    The No. 2 Bruins enter the weekend at 3-0 overall after a season-opening 7-0 sweep of UC Irvine. Last weekend, UCLA beat Wisconsin 5-0 and Texas Tech 4-0 in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. UCLA has five ranked singles players: #1 Clay Thomson, #11 Marcos Giron, #62 Mackenzie McDonald, #64 Karue Sell and # 120 Gage Brymer. In doubles, UCLA has #10 Giron/McDonald ranked. USC is 88-103 all-time against the Bruins. Last season, USC won the first meeting 4-3 in the ITA National Indoors semifinals and then took three losses to UCLA -- 4-3, 4-3 and then falling 4-2 in the Pac-12 Championship match.

     

     

    SCOUTING GEORGIA
    The No. 3 Bulldogs enter the weekend at 2-0 overall after a 4-2 win over Columbia and a 4-1 win over Stanford last week at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Georgia has five ranked singles players: #12 Austin Smith, #21 Nathan Pasha, #47 Garrett Brasseaux, #48 Ben Wagland and #102 Nick Wood. In doubles, the Bulldogs have #12 Pieters/Wagland and #59 Pasha/Pieters in the rankings. USC is 12-11 all-time against Georgia with the last meeting coming in 2012 when the Trojans beat the Bulldogs 4-1 in the ITA National Indoors semifinals.

    SCOUTING FLORIDA
    The No. 11 Gators enter the weekend at 3-0 overall after a season-opening 5-2 win over North Florida. Last weekend, Florida beat UNC-Wilmington 4-0 and TCU 4-2 at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Florida has five ranked singles players: #28 Stephen Piro, #53 Elliott Orkin, #109 Maxx Lipman, #111 Gordon Watson and #116 Michael Alford. In doubles, the Gators have four ranked pairs: #13 Orkin/Watson, #34 DIep/Piro, #43 Alford/Diep and #45 Lipman/Piro. USC is 4-2 all-time against Florida with the last meeting coming in 2012 when the Trojans beat the Gators 6-1 during the regular season at Marks Stadium.

    LAST WEEK
    The Trojans made a dominant start to the 2014 season with a couple shutout wins last week at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at Marks Stadium. USC opened the spring with a 4-0 sweep of Santa Clara before taking out No. 63 Wichita State 4-0 the next day, punching the Trojans' ticket to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.

    KICK-OFF SPOTLIGHT
    USC junior Eric Johnson won both his singles matches and grabbed a doubles shutout win during USC's victorious run at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Johnson secured the Trojans' trip to the ITA National Indoor Championships with his clinching singles win against Wichita State, posting a 6-2, 6-2 win over Wichita State's Cuic to lock USC in with another shutout win to open 2014 team play. The previous day, Johnson had paired with Max de Vroome for a smooth 6-0 shutout in doubles against Santa Clara before tallying USC's first singles win of the day with his 6-1, 6-2 victory that helped spark the Trojans to a shutout in their spring season opener.

    2014 TROJANS AT A GLANCE
    In 2013, the Trojan men came up just short in their efforts to defend a string of four consecutive national championships, as USC was bumped out of the NCAA Tournament in the quarterfinals to finish the year at 26-5 overall and with a No. 5 national ranking. Only one member of that 2013 team has departed Troy, with Emilio Gomez having entered the pro ranks. The remaining Trojan contingent is a powerful crew, with six players already boasting at least one NCAA championship ring. The 2014 Trojans are led by senior All-American Ray Sarmiento, who starts up 2014 in the same place he began 2013 -- ranked No. 10 in the nation in singles. He is joined on the national rankings list by four more Trojans -- No. 32 junior Yannick Hanfmann, No. 67 junior Jonny Wang, No. 70 senior Michael Grant and No. 113 junior Roberto Quiroz. All five of those Trojans have been members of at least one NCAA championship squad. In all, USC boasts three ITA All-Americans on its 2014 roster in Hanfmann, Quiroz and Sarmiento. Also back in action for the USC men is junior Eric Johnson and sophomore Max de Vroome, while USC head coach Peter Smith has welcomed five newcomers to the roster in freshmen Rob Bellamy, Nick Crystal and David Laser, along with spring additions Connor Farren and Sander Brendmoe.