Men's Tennis
    No. 1 USC Men Pay A Visit To No. 3 UCLA

    Emilio Gomez clinched last year's USC win at UCLA.

    Feb. 27, 2012

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    The top-ranked USC men's tennis team carries a 33-match win streak across town to take on rival UCLA this week. The Trojans (13-0) do battle with the No. 3 Bruins (11-1) at 2 p.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 29) in Westwood.

    The USC men remain ranked where they left off in 2011 -- at the top of the national rankings for the sixth straight cycle (released Feb. 28) in a 2012 season that the Trojans hope to finish out on top of for the fourth straight year. In new individual rankings released Feb. 28, defending NCAA Singles Champion Steve Johnson weighs in at No. 5 to lead a full lineup of ranked Trojans. Fellow senior Daniel Nguyen is next at No. 15, followed by ITA Southwest Regional Singles Champion Ray Sarmiento at No. 22, along with No. 32 Emilio Gomez, No. 38 Yannick Hanfmann and No. 124 Roberto Quiroz. In doubles, USC has Hanfmann/S. Johnson ranked No. 6 in the nation and Nguyen/Sarmiento at No. 49.

    USC kept its championship train charging down the tracks with two shutout wins at home last week in a doubleheader that followed up the Trojans' win at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships earlier in the week. The Trojans overmatched No. 60 San Diego State and No. 24 San Diego with two perfect 7-0 sweeps down the line, bulking up USC's 2012 tally to a 13-0 overall record to make it a solid 33-match win streak dating back to 2011.USC got a good load of freshmen in on the winning action to start the day, as newcomers Yannick Hanfmann, Roberto Quiroz, Eric Johnson, Jordi Vives and Jonny Wang all rang up victories in the first match. In round two under the lights, USC squared off with San Diego, helmed by former USC assistant coach Brett Masi. The Trojans did not back down in this one either, cruising to another shutout with a smooth stretch of straight-set wins. Hanfmann, Quiroz, Ray Sarmiento and Emilio Gomez all rounded out the day's efforts with two wins to their names with singles sweeps across the two matches. Senior Steve Johnson, meanwhile, stretched his personal singles win streak to 47 in a row when he stepped up for a 6-4, 6-2 takedown of San Diego's #77 Nikola Bubnic on court one in the evening match.

    Roberto Quiroz registered two doubles and two singles wins for the USC men in their doubleheader on Feb. 24, helping USC to sweeps against #60 San Diego State and #24 San Diego and getting himself on the list as the Pac-12 Player of the Week. The only Trojan to do double duty in both matches, Quiroz still dominated throughout. After a near-perfect doubles win with Emilio Gomez vs. SDSU, Quiroz came through with the match-clinching singles win in a powerful 6-1, 6-3 win over Rickey Baylon at the No. 3 singles position. A few hours later, Quiroz followed up another doubles win alongside Gomez with the first singles win of the match vs. San Diego, taking down Ciaran Fitzgerald in another strong showing, 6-3, 6-1. Gomez is now 13-2 overall in singles and 10-1 in dual-match play. In doubles, he and his cousin Gomez are 11-3 overall and 9-2 in dual matches.

    The No. 3 Bruins are 11-1 overall after blanking St. Mary's 7-0 last week. UCLA's only loss to date was a 4-2 loss to Duke in the first round of the ITA National Team Indoors. UCLA has four players ranked nationally in singles (as of Feb. 28): #33 Nick Meister, #81 Clay Thompson, #109 Adrien Puget and #116 Marcos Giron. In doubles, UCLA has #53 Meister/Puget. USC is 84-99 all-time against the Bruins after notching a 5-2 at home and a 4-3 win in Westwood against UCLA last season.

    USC exacted some sweet revenge at the 2012 ITA National Team Indoor Championships by charging to the title in Charlottesville, Va. The Trojans took their only two losses of 2011 at the tourney last season, but made sure not to stumble at all in this year's campaign. USC won the doubles point in the first three matches, but fell in the title match vs. Ohio State before working back on top and eventually getting the championship clincher from freshman Yannick Hanfmann with his three-set comeback from court five. Hanfmann finished the tourney with a perfect run through singles play, picking up four wins to help boost the Trojans to the title run. USC opened up the action with a shutout of No. 20 Tennessee -- a rematch of the 2011 NCAA Championship match -- with the clincher coming from Roberto Quiroz on court six. In the quarterfinals against No. 10 Duke -- who had beaten the Trojans 4-3 last year at the ITA Indoors -- USC swept once again as Daniel Nguyen provided the cinching heroics from his No. 3 spot. In the semifinals, USC was up against No. 4 Georgia, and powered past the Bulldogs for a 4-1 win that Steve Johnson secured from the top singles slot. That set up the Trojans with their first championship appearance since 1991, and USC pushed through to edge out No. 3 Ohio State -- which had upset No. 2 host Virginia in the other semi -- with a 4-3 win. The victory tallied the Trojans' third title at the national indoor event, with the last coming in 1988.

    USC returned to the site of its latest NCAA Team Championship in revisiting Taube Stadium at Stanford on Feb. 3 for some nonconference action against the No. 6 Cardinal. The return trip proved fruitful once again for the Trojans, who recorded their first-ever 7-0 sweep of Stanford in claiming five straight-set wins and a pair of victories on 10-game tiebreakers to help USC to victory. The match of the weekend was arguably on court one in the USC-Stanford clash, where USC's Steve Johnson was embroiled in an on-serve battle with #37 Ryan Thacher. Johnson pulled out the first set on a tiebreaker, and Thacher answered with a win in the second-set tiebreak. Once the 10-game decider came into play, however, Johnson was all business. The senior rallied past Thacher and posted a 10-3 win in the final frame to lock in on his 42nd straight collegiate singles win.

    Senior Steve Johnson finished his junior season with a 35-match singles winning streak in claiming the 2011 NCAA Singles Championship, and has now boosted the stretch to 47 in a row. Johnson took a fall break from collegiate tennis to play as an amateur on the pro circuit, where he won a USTA Pro Circuit Futures singles title in Claremont, Calif., and an ATP Challenger doubles title in Knoxville, Tenn. Now back on the collegiate courts, the senior five-time All-American is looking to ultimately lead the Trojans to a fourth straight national championship while he also most certainly amasses a dominating winning record of his own. As of Feb. 24 in dual-match singles, Johnson has won 41 straight matches, with the last loss dating back to #9 Henrique Cunha of Duke on March 17, 2010.

    Yannick Hanfmann helped supercharge the Trojans to their first ITA National Team Indoor Championship since 1988 with three dominating straight-set singles wins two doubles upset victories, and the clinching three-set singles comeback in the title match to beat Ohio State and win the crown. For his powerful work across the country at the tourney, Hanfmann was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Feb. 20. Hanfmann teamed up with Steve Johnson at the No. 1 doubles position and followed up a suspended match in the Round of 16 clash with No. 20 Tennessee by taking down two higher ranked opponents to key doubles-point wins for USC against No. 10 Duke in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Georgia in the semis. #28-ranked Hanfmann/Johnson beat Duke's #13-ranked pair and Georgia's #7-ranked duo. In singles, Hanfmann plowed through his opponents with a trio of straight-set wins, losing only nine total games in those three victories. Against No. 4 Ohio State in the championship, Hanfmann and Johnson lost in doubles, and Hanfman was down a set in singles before pummeling Devin McCarthy in the next two sets to win his match 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and lift USC to a 4-3 win over the Buckeyes. Hanfmann now holds a 22-5 overall singles record and 9-1 dual-match mark. He and Johnson are 10-2 overall in doubles and 7-1 in dual-match play.

    Ray Sarmiento picked up his third career selection as the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Jan. 30 thanks to his powerful performances in singles and doubles over the weekend as the top-ranked Trojans grabbed two wins at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Sarmiento extended his doubles win streak with teammate Daniel Nguyen out to eight straight by getting the first wins of the day in both matches at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend to go along with two dominant singles wins over the weekend for the Trojans. Sarmiento and Nguyen pinned up 8-3 and 8-2 wins from their No. 2 doubles spot for early lifts for the Trojans. In singles, #12 Sarmiento cracked down with a 6-1, 6-0 win over UNLV's Tamas Batyi from the No. 2 position, then turned around and snagged a 6-1, 6-3 win over Pedro Mol on court three against UNC-Wilmington. Sarmiento now boasts a 22-7 overall singles record on the year to go with a 13-3 mark with Nguyen in doubles.

    Trojans were the only ones left playing on the final day of the Sherwood Collegiate Cup on Jan. 16, with a USC sweep to the singles and doubles title matches. The Trojans come home with a solid set of hardware for their trophy cases, as Steve Johnson won the singles championship in beating teammate Daniel Nguyen, while Nguyen teamed up with Ray Sarmiento on the doubles courts to beat Johnson and Yannick Hanfmann 9-7 to claim the doubles championship. Almost a third of the singles draw was comprised of Trojans for the early-spring tournament, which culminated in today's all-Trojan title matches. Senior Steve Johnson stepped back to the collegiate courts for the first time since winning the 2011 NCAA Singles Championship after a stint as an amateur on the pro circuit. He now holds a clean 5-0 singles record on the year thanks to today's 6-2, 6-2 championship win over his fellow senior teammate and three-time NCAA Team Champion Daniel Nguyen. The two seniors spent a lot of time on opposite sides of the net today, in fact. In the doubles final, Nguyen was paired with his trusty sophomore teammate Ray Sarmiento -- whom he had paired with to much success during USC's run to the 2011 national championship -- for the Sherwood title match against Johnson and USC freshman Yannick Hanfmann. Johnson/Hanfmann were the No. 2 seeded team in the doubles draw, but Nguyen/Sarmiento won the day with a late push for a 9-7 victory that captured the doubles crown.

    USC senior Daniel Nguyen has locked in on the clinching match for the past two NCAA Team Championships for the three-time defending champ Trojans, and in a December trip to France he tapped into those clutch skills in helping Team USA beat host France 4-3 in the championship of the Master'U BNP Paribas. The U.S. team of the top American collegians went up against France in the final for the third straight year and fell behind 3-1 in singles play. In doubles, however, Nguyen had two matches on his plate, first teaming up with Virginia's Jarmere Jenkins -- an opponent of the Trojans' in the past two NCAA Tournaments -- for a straight-set win that boosted up the USA's chances. Nguyen then turned around and stepped up for a mixed doubles match alongside fellow Pac-12 player Jacqueline Cako of ASU. The Trojan-Sun Devil duo would overpower their French opponents to the tune of a match-clinching 6-4, 6-1 victory that sewed up a 4-3 win for Team USA to claim its second Master'U BNP Paribas championship in the past three years. Nguyen currently holds a 19-7 overall record in singles with an 8-2 mark in dual matches.

    In October, Ray Sarmiento topped off his tear through the ITA Southwest Regional Championships with yet another straight-set victory to claim the singles title for the Trojan sophomore in Malibu. Up against an upset-minded Francis Alcantara of Fresno State, Sarmiento served up a solid 6-4, 6-3 win to become the first Trojan to win a regional singles title in over a decade. The No. 2 seed in the tourney, Sarmiento never gave up more than four games in a set to anyone but No. 3 seeded Finn Tearney of host Pepperdine during the semifinals. In he title match with Alcantara, Sarmiento was similarly dominant as he picked up his sixth consecutive straight-set win of the year to bring a long-awaited regional championship to Troy. No Trojan has won a singles title at the ITA regionals since Andrew Park went back-to-back in the 1999 and 2000 regional tournaments.

    USC's sophomore-freshman doubles combo of Emilio Gomez and Yannick Hanfmann extended their dominating run through the Southern California Intercollegiate Championships into a championship victory at the tourney in November in Westwood. Up against a Bruin team playing on their home courts, the two young and top-seeded Trojans served up an 8-4 win over UCLA's No. 2 seeded Brigham/Thompson to win the doubles title.

    USC finished 2011 on a 19-match winning streak that carried the Trojans to their third straight NCAA championship for a final 27-2 overall record. Junior Steve Johnson would win the NCAA singles championship as well, becoming the first USC player --- since the dual-match format was incorporated into the NCAA championships in 1977 -- to win a team and singles title in the same year. Johnson was named the 2011 ITA National Player of the Year, and earned All-American honors along with freshman Ray Sarmiento. Peter Smith was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in leading the Trojans to their first undefeated conference finish since 1987. Johnson also was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year, joined by teammates Jaak Poldma (first team), Sarmiento, (second team), Nguyen and Emilio Gomez (honorable mention) on the all-conference honor roll.