Men's Tennis
    No. 3 USC Men Head To Houston For ITA National Team Indoors
    The Trojans are focused on another strong run at the ITA National Team Indoors this week.
    The Trojans are focused on another strong run at the ITA National Team Indoors this week.

    Feb. 12, 2014

    USC Men's Tennis ReleaseGet Acrobat Reader

    THIS WEEK
    The No. 3 USC men's tennis team is off to Texas to engage in some hefty action in Houston at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Seeded No. 3 in the draw, the 4-0 Trojans will open up with a Round of 16 matchup against No. 14 Tennessee at 3 p.m. CT on Friday (Feb. 14) at the Downtown Club at the Met. A win there would put the Trojans on a path toward a potential place in the final, which USC reached last season. Beating the Vols would take the Trojans to a Saturday quarterfinal against either No. 6 Baylor or No. 8 Texas A&M. The semifinals are set for Sunday, with the championship match on tap for noon CT on Monday.

    TOURNAMENT CENTRAL

    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 has since moved up to now stand at No. 3 in the latest ITA team rankings (released Feb. 4). On the individual side, new rankings came out Feb. 11. Senior Ray Sarmiento leads the pack, ranked No. 7 in the nation in singles. He is joined on the national rankings list by two more Trojans -- No. 16 junior Yannick Hanfmann and No. 47 junior Jonny Wang. In doubles, USC has Hanfmann/Sarmiento ranked No. 35 in the land.

    THIS TIME LAST YEAR
    USC's first loss of the 2013 season came to top-ranked and top-seeded Virginia in the championship match at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle last year. The tight 4-2 loss to the Cavaliers snapped a 20-match winning streak held by the Trojans dating back through USC's run to the 2012 NCAA Championship, where the Trojans beat Virginia 4-2 in last year's national championship match. USC was looking to defend its 2012 ITA National Indoor Championship, but the highly ranked Cavaliers stole away this year's title thanks to some strong wins at the top of the lineup. In the semifinals of the tourney, USC captured a dramatic win over crosstown rival UCLA, edging out the No. 3 Bruins with a 4-3 comeback victory capped by a heroic third-set tiebreaker win from sophomore Roberto Quiroz. The Bruins had the Trojans in a tough spot in a match replete with momentum shifts, but USC's gutsy comeback efforts pulled the Trojans through in the clutch. In order to get to that semi, the Trojans first rolled through No. 15 Texas A&M with a 4-0 sweep and then took down No. 7 Kentucky 4-1 in the quarterfinals. Yannick Hanfmann would finish the tourney undefeated in singles play, going 3-0 to extend the sophomore's singles win streak out to eight in a row. He also had the clincher against the Aggies to help spark his stretch of straight-set wins. Hanfmann was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for his strength in Seattle..

    BEATING THE BULLDOGS
    In the first edition of the Pac-12 SEC Showdown, USC served up a 4-0 takedown of No. 3 Georgia. After pulling off a tight doubles point, the Trojans rattled off three straight-set singles wins to wrap a quick victory over the visiting Bulldogs. Setting the winning tone for the Trojans was USC's top guns on the doubles courts, Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento. They more than held their ground against Georgia's #12 Pieters/Wagland and hustled to a 6-2 win on court one. The Bulldogs made it interesting by snagging the win on court three in a tiebreaker, as UGA's Diaz/Smith edged out USC's Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson. That set up the heroics on court two, where USC's new combo pack of freshman Connor Farren and junior Roberto Quiroz continued their winning ways. Up 5-4 on Georgia's Brasseaux/Pasha with Quiroz on the service line, the Trojans finished off the Bulldogs with one last blast at the net by Farren, and USC had the 6-4 win and the doubles point in hand. The feature presentation of the singles scene was set for court one, where USC's #10 senior Ray Sarmiento was up against Georgia's #12 Austin Smith. While that battle ensued, it was USC junior Jonny Wang who ripped his way to the first singles victory of the day. #67 Wang wrapped up USC's second point with a smooth 6-3, 6-1 win over Georgia's Hernus Pieters on court five. Meanwhile, at the No. 2 spot, USC's #34 junior Yannick Hanfmann was all business in his first set tiebreaker against UGA's #21 Nathan Pasha. The momentum Hanfmann gleaned from that tiebreak sweep carried him through to a strong second set, as he would tally a 3-0 lead for the Trojans with his 6-5 (0), 6-1 win. With the Trojans poised for the upset victory, Sarmiento buckled down in his clash with #12 Smith. The senior would lock in the W for USC on a 6-4, 6-4 win at the No. 1 spot to suspend action on the remaining courts.

    GATORS GO DOWN
    USC pocketed another marquee win in the first edition of the Pac-12/SEC Showdown, knocking down No. 11 Florida with a 4-0 shutout at Marks Stadium on Feb. 2. The top of the lineup was all business for the Trojans, with victories coming from the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles courts as well as the top two singles slots. Putting the finishing touches on today's victory was freshman Connor Farren from court four, as he wrapped up the action to net the Trojans their fourth dual match win of the year. The Trojans wrapped up the doubles point in fairly smooth fashion, with court two's Connor Farren and Roberto Quiroz combining forces with a vengeance once again. The duo took out Florida's Lipman/Watson 6-2, and their court one compatriots took care of business next. Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento delivered a 6-3 win over Alford/Piro to take USC ahead 1-0 in the match and bring up singles action. Shining bright at the top of the lineup in singles were Sarmiento and Hanfmann. #10 Sarmiento walloped Florida's Diego Hidalgo 6-2, 6-2 to bump USC ahead 2-0. Meanwhile, his doubles partner, #32 junior Yannick Hanfmann, was doing work on court two. Hanfmann pulled off the first set in a tiebreaker before cruising past #28 Stephane Piro with a 6-5 (5), 6-2 win that put USC on the brink of victory. The remaining courts looked to be bound for third sets, but freshman Farren was ready to pounce and wrap up the match early. He, too, plugged in a first-set win with a tiebreaker before hitting his stride in the second and putting a stop to things with his 6-5 (5), 6-3 clincher over #109 Maxx Lipman on court four.

    HANFMANN'S A HERO
    USC junior Yannick Hanfmann served up two singles upsets of higher ranked opponents and paired with teammate Ray Sarmiento for two more doubles wins - one over a #12 ranked pair - to help the Trojans two big wins over SEC opponents last weekend. For his heroic efforts, Hanfmann was been named Pac-12 Player of the Week on Feb. 4. It's the first such award for a Trojan this season and the fourth of Hanfmann's USC career. Hanfmann and the No. 4 Trojans kicked of the first edition of the Pac-12/SEC Showdown with an upset shutout of the nation's No. 3 team, Georgia. Unranked Hanfmann and Sarmiento took out #12 Pieters/Wagland of Georgia 6-2 for the first win of the day, and in singles #32 Hanfmann would notch another upset with a powerful 6-5 (0), 6-0 win over #21 Nathan Pasha on court two to speed the Trojans along to the 4-0 win over the Bulldogs. The next day, Hanfmann and Sarmiento secured the doubles point against Florida with another win on court one, and Hanfmann would make it a 3-0 lead on the Gators with another singles upset, beating #28 Stephen Piro in straight sets 6-5 (5), 6-2 on court two. Hanfmann is now 8-1 overall in singles and 3-0 in doubles with Sarmiento.

    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. •