The streaking USC men's tennis team takes a run of seven straight 2013 victories into this week's faceoffs with a couple top-20 conference rivals. These matches won't count toward Pac-12 records, but this week's bouts will be a good test for the Trojans in their 2013 campaign. First, USC (7-0) will host No. 13 California at 1:30 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 8), followed by a 1 p.m. clash with No. 19 Stanford on Saturday (Feb. 9) at Marks Stadium.
ITA RANKING UPDATES
The USC men are slotted as the No. 2 team in the nation after the Trojans made history with four consecutive NCAA team championships. Ranked No. 2 in the latest ITA national team poll (released Feb. 5), the Trojans also boast more than a full lineup of Trojans on the ITA singles list (released Jan. 3). Seven Trojans made the cut, led by junior All-American Ray Sarmiento at No. 10. Sophomore All-American Roberto Quiroz is next in line at No. 24, followed by junior Emilio Gomez, who also had a very strong fall season in the singles realm. Sophomore Eric Johnson has earned his first career ranking at No. 61, joined by freshman Max de Vroome who stands at No. 78 entering his first spring as a Trojan. Sophomore Yannick Hanfmann, too, has a top-100 spot, as the clincher of the 2012 NCAA Championship holds down No. 84. Sophomore Jonny Wang makes it a trio of Trojans with their first-ever ITA rankings with his spot tied at No. 121.
The No. 13 Golden Bears are 3-0 overall after beating Pacific 5-2 last week. Cal has four players ranked in singles: #42 Christoffer Konigsfeldt, #66 Ben McLachlan, #92 Chase Melton and #93 Mads Engsted. In doubles, Cal has #7 Ben McLachlan/Riki McLachlan and #59 Ben McLachlan/Konigsfeldt. USC is 13-2-33 all-time against Cal after posting a 5-2 and a 6-1 win over the Bears last season.
The No. 19 Cardinal entered the week at 3-1 after a 7-0 win over BYU last weekend, with matches vs. TCU and UCLA before coming to USC. Stanford has #29 John Morrissey ranked in singles and #57 Ball/Strobel ranked in doubles. USC is 106-76 all-time against Stanford after beating the Cardinal three times last season, twice with 7-0 sweeps during the regular season along with a 4-0 win in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.
USC raged through five wins last week at Marks Stadium, beginning by doubling up for a busy day that saw the Trojans tack up a 7-0 sweep of No. 57 Cal Poly and a 6-1 win over UC Irvine at Marks Stadium on Tuesday. Freshman Max de Vroome was the clinching hero in both matches, rolling to two forceful wins from his spot on court four. On Friday, USC finally unfurled its full lineup of ranked players in the matchup with No. 17 Texas, as the Trojans cruised past the Longhorns with a 7-0 sweep. Back on the singles scene after getting banged up during the Sherwood Cup, USC's top gun, #10 Ray Sarmiento got right back to business on court two. The junior fired off a 6-3, 6-2 win over Texas' Sudanwa Sitaram, and USC was off to the races in that one. The Trojans would finish off the winning week with another doubleheader sweep. In the Trojans' second doubleheader in less than a week, USC opened the day with a 6-1 win over San Francisco and mirrored that score in the afternoon in beating LMU 6-1 to wrap up the busy day for the Trojans. Double winners on the day were USC's Michael Grant and Max de Vroome, who each cruised to straight-set wins to aid the Trojan cause in both matches. Grant was the clincher in both affairs, first from the No. 6 spot against USF and then from court five against LMU.
PLENTY OF PAC-12 PUNCH
Just three weeks into the fall season, USC has two Pac-12 Player of the Week winners the books. Junior Emilio Gomez opened up the honor roll for the Trojans with his second career pick on Jan. 29. Gomez held down the No. 1 singles position with precision as the USC men made a winning run as host of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Gomez won in straight sets in both his singles matches, lifting USC to 3-0 leads against both San Diego State and Fresno State. He was similarly strong in the doubles realm, teaming up with Eric Johnson in the ITA Kick-Off final for an 8-1 victory that sparked USC's winning run in the match so qualify the Trojans for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Freshman Max de Vroome would make it back-to-back USC wins as he picked up his first career Pac-12 Player of the Week award after extending his win streaks in singles and doubles with solid victories in USC's five matches in a six-day period. De Vroome continued his success with teammate Roberto Quiroz in pounding out five straight doubles wins last week. In singles, de Vroome also added five more wins to hold seven in a row thanks to his five straight-set wins on the singles courts. De Vroome had the clinching wins in both USC victories in a doubleheader against Cal Poly and UC Irvine early in the week, and would go on to wrap up a winning week with his victories against Texas, San Francisco and LMU as the week progressed.
endured plenty of adjustments to changing weather patterns in Los Angeles last week, and came away with two 4-0 sweeps of opponents at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. On the first day, teams moved indoors to courts in Riverside in order to stay on schedule. There, the Trojans posted a clean sheet against No. 66 San Diego State in winning doubles and then tacking up three straight-set singles wins, with the clincher coming from #121 sophomore Jonny Wang at the No. 4 spot. The next day, USC played out the ITA Kick-Off final against No. 69 Fresno State on three courts at Marks Stadium. Thanks to Max de Vroome and Roberto Quiroz' tiebreaker win on court one, USC squeaked out the doubles point. Emilio Gomez and Jonny Wang had given USC the advantage with an 8-1 win at the No. 2 position, but USC lost at No. 3. In singles, though, the Trojans showed fewer signs of slacking. De Vroome and Gomez both streaked ahead to victory, and then Quiroz wrapped up the weekend with the clincher on court three to keep USC a perfect 2-0 in the early goings of 2013.
STRENGTH AT SHERWOOD
The winner of last year's Sherwood Collegiate Cup doubles championship, Ray Sarmiento added a singles title to his resume thanks to a series of wins over UCLA opponents in this 2013 edition of the individual tourney in Thousand Oaks, Calif, last weekend. Sarmiento raged through straight sets throughout his singles draw until the final, where the junior lost the first before making his comeback win to beat UCLA's Adrien Puget in the title match. USC also had a spot in the doubles final, but Trojans Emilio Gomez and Eric Johnson were upended in the final by third-seeded Bruin pair Giron/Novikov. The Trojans had eight players on the docket in singles and four doubles teams in the mix for USC's first competition of 2013. Four Trojan sophomores -- Sarmiento, Roberto Quiroz, Yannick Hanfmann and Eric Johnson -- reached the singles quarterfinals, but only Sarmiento emerged from that group as he set his course toward the championship. So, too did the Trojan pack four teams into the doubles quarterfinal round, with all but one notching wins to move into the semifinals. That set up an all-Trojan semi between Emilio Gomez /Johnson and Hanfmann/Sarmiento to guarantee a USC team in the final. Gomez/Johnson would advance to the title match to take on No. 3 seeded Bruins Giron/Novikov, who had edged out Trojans De Vroome/Quiroz in their semifinal collision. Gomez/Johnson took the Bruins down to the wire, but fell 8-7 (4) in the doubles final.
A GOOD DAY ON CLAY
USC sophomore Roberto Quiroz showed his singles strength in the fall in cruising to the crown at the USTA Clay Court Invitational in Orlando, Fla., topping off his trip with a 6-1, 6-3 championship win over his opponent from Duke. He also reached the doubles semifinals with teammate Yannick Hanfmann. The Florida tournament consisted of several draws of singles and doubles competition. The Trojans had a strong group in the Gold Draw, led by eventual champ Robert Quiroz. Sophomore Yannick Hanfmann worked his way to the semifinals in the draw, falling to Quiroz' title match opponent Michael Redlicki. Freshman Max de Vroome and sophomore Jonny Wang fell in the first round. Quiroz and Hanfmann both opened their runs with straight-set victories. Quiroz would keep that streak alive as he rolled to the title, which Hanfmann was upended in the semis.
Trojan tennis reigned supreme at the Battle in the Bay Classic in San Francisco during the fall with a sweep of singles and doubles titles. The big winner in the Bay Area was USC sophomore Eric Johnson, who stormed to the singles crown with a dramatic three-set win over his freshman teammate Max de Vroome. Johnson also hoisted the doubles trophy with teammate Yannick Hanfmann after a successful run through the doubles draw. Fourth-seeded Eric Johnson posted straight-set wins in his first three matches en route to today's semifinals. There he dispatched a San Diego foe to take a spot in the singles final against teammate Max de Vroome. The two Trojans tangled through three sets before Johnson grabbed the third-set tiebreaker for a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 win that earned the sophomore the singles crown. De Vroome took the spot in the title match with another all-Trojan face-off in the semifinal, where the freshman faced sophomore Jonny Wang, who had also made a strong run through the singles draw. In doubles, Wang and de Vroome had paired up but taken an early tight loss in the first round. Their Trojan cohorts Johnson and Yannick Hanfmann, meanwhile, pinned up two powerful wins to move into the semifinals. There, sophomores Hanfmann and Johnson gutted out a 9-8 (1) win over a pair from Pacific to earn a place in the final. Hanfmann/Johnson went up against a duo from Stanford in the championship bout, taking out the Cardinal with an 8-4 decision to claim the title and spark an all-out winning day for sophomore Johnson.
In 2012, USC seniors Steve Johnson and Daniel Nguyen helped anchor the Trojans to a historic run of four consecutive NCAA championships. Johnson finished his Trojan career as arguably the most successful collegiate player in history, having claimed back-to-back NCAA Singles Championships and closing out 2012 on a 72-match singles winning streak. Led by head coach Peter Smith, the 2012 Trojans lost just one match during the regular season, rebounding strong to win the first Pac-12 Tournament Championship and rolling on to successfully defend its previous three NCAA titles, taking its fourth in a row to finish 33-1 overall on the year. Top-seeded USC won a heart-stopping championship match against No. 3 seed Virginia, with the clincher in the 4-3 win coming from freshman Yannick Hanfmann in a third-set tiebreaker. With the 2012 title, USC became the first team since Stanford's 1995-98 teams to win four consecutive national championships. At the end of the year, Johnson had earned his seventh career ITA All-American nods, joined by freshman Roberto Quiroz and sophomore Ray Sarmiento with All-American status in 2012.