No. 3 USC Men Spend Spring Break at Duke and Georgia
Trojans have a competitive road trip with visits to #50 Blue Devils and #6 Bulldogs.
March 16, 2010
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The No. 3 USC men are road-tripping for Spring Break, setting off eastward for a pair of nonconference tilts. The Trojans will first swing through North Carolina for a St. Patrick's Day clash with No. 50 Duke at 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday (March 17). Then, USC (13-1) will scope out the site of this year's NCAA Championships with a visit to Athens, Ga., when the Trojans take on No. 6 Georgia in a 2:30 p.m. ET match on Friday (March 19).
ITA RANKING UPDATES
The latest Campbell/ITA national team rankings (released March 16) have defending NCAA champ USC still ranked No. 3 in the nation after the Trojans' first loss slipped them out of the No. 1 spot at which they opened the year. The latest individual rankings also were released March 16. There, Steve Johnson is back on top as the nation's leader, ranked #1 again in singles. Senior Robert Farah is next in line at #11, with four other Trojans settled in the rankings: #72 Jaak Poldma, #84 Peter Lucassen, #89 Daniel Nguyen and #119 JT Sundling. In doubles, three Trojan teams are in the rankings: #14 Farah/Johnson, #48 McNaughton/Nguyen and #49 Lucassen/Poldma.
USC had just one match last week, facing an entirely new opponent in the Trojans' first-ever meeting with Wake Forest. In another blustery day at Marks Stadium, the Trojans captured the doubles point and then won three of the first four singles matches on the way to a 5-2 final victory over the visiting Demon Deacons. The last three matches went to three sets, but Peter Lucassen closed things down first with a win at the No. 4 slot to improve the Trojans' overall record on the year to 13-1.
Duke is ranked No. 50 in the nation and is 5-5 overall after taking its third straight loss in a 6-1 decision at Pepperdine last week. The Blue Devils have three players ranked in singles: #6 Henrique Cunha, #79 Dylan Arnould and #118 Reid Carleton. Duke's Carleton/Cunha is ranked #3 in doubles, followed by #44 Michel/Wietoska. USC is 4-2 all-time against Duke, with the Trojans winning 7-0 in 2008 and Duke winning 4-3 in 2006 in the teams' most recent meetings.
Georgia is ranked No. 6 in the nation and is 12-2 overall after winning its seventh straight match with 4-3 win over Vanderbilt last week. UGA's losses have come to Virginia and Florida. The Bulldogs have two players ranked in singles: #18 Javier Garrapiz and #96 Nate Schnugg. Georgia's Hunt/Schnugg team is ranked #39 in doubles. With 71 straight home wins, Georgia enters the week five wins away from tying the school record 76-match home winning streak that ended in 1972. USC is 9-11 all-time against the Bulldogs, with UGA claiming a 4-1 win in 2009 and a 6-1 win in 2007. USC's last win over the Bulldogs was a 4-1 victory to claim the 2002 NCAA Championship.
BEATING THE BRUINS
USC recorded its first back-to-back wins against crosstown rival UCLA since 1991 with the Trojans' 6-1 win over the Bruins on March 3 at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. USC had claimed a 4-0 win over UCLA earlier this year at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, and this second look at UCLA was a similarly decisive victory for the Trojans. USC captured the doubles point and then worked ahead with the clincher coming from Matt Kecki to make it a 4-1 USC lead from his No. 6 singles slot.
STEVE IN THE LEAD
En route to reclaiming his hold as the No. 1 singles player in the nation, Steve Johnson first picked up his first career honor as the Pac-10 Player of the Week. Johnson was ranked #1 from January until March 2 when he moved to #3 for one rankings cycle. During that stretch, the sophomore got the ball rolling on USC's doubles point and winning run through singles in the #5 Trojans' rivalry match at #6 UCLA last week. Playing with Robert Farah at No. 1 doubles, Johnson put up a solid 8-5 doubles win for a USC advantage in the doubles race. Then, Johnson pinned up a straight-set victory in singles over Holden Seguso to lift the Trojans ahead 2-0 in the match. In doing so, Johnson helped secure USC's first back-to-back wins against crosstown rival UCLA since 1991. As of March 16, Johnson moved back to #1, holding a 19-3 overall singles record and 8-2 mark in dual-match play.
DANIEL WINS IN PAC-10
After winning out in doubles and singles during USC's 7-0 sweep of San Diego State, Daniel Nguyen came up huge for the Trojans in an incredibly tight match at No. 14 Stanford in a rematch of last year's NCAA Round of 16 clash. His clutch play for the Trojans earned the sophomore his first career selection as Pac-10 Player of the Week on March 2. Due to the threat of rain, USC and Stanford opted to play out singles first, with doubles only played in the event of a singles tie and clear skies later in the day. Nguyen had the most decisive singles win of the day as he opened the day with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Matt Kandath to help USC to an early lead. Singles play would end up even 3-3, bringing up the deciding doubles matches. The winning point came down to Nguyen and partner Steve Johnson at the No. 2 position, as the then-unranked Trojan pair faced Stanford's #26 Clayton/Wire. Nguyen and Johnson pushed the match to a tiebreaker and pulled ahead and clinched the match by claiming the tiebreak 7-3 to win the match for USC. Currently ranked #89, Nguyen is now 22-5 overall in singles with an 8-1 mark in dual-match play. He leads the team in singles wins, just ahead of Robert Farah and Steve Johnson's 19 wins apiece to date.
POLDMA'S PAC-10 POWER
USC junior Jaak Poldma earned his first career honors as Pac-10 Player of the Week on Feb. 16 after a dominant all-around performance at the competitive ITA National Team Indoor Championships, staking a claim as the first Trojan to win the weekly honor from the conference this season.Poldma tallied wins across the board for USC, getting two singles wins and two doubles wins and leading in both his suspended matches. #116 Poldma stayed flawless in dual match singles play from the No. 3 singles position, beating Kellen Damico of Texas and #118 Nick Meister of UCLA both in straight sets. His singles wins put him on a six-match overall winning streak. Poldma also stretched to a six-match win streak in doubles with Lucassen after that weekend's success, including an 8-6 upset of UCLA's #36 pair Brooklyn/Stewart. Poldma now ranks #72 in singles with a 17-4 overall record in singles with a 10-1 mark in dual-match play. Poldma and Peter Lucassen rank #49 and are 10-1 together in doubles -- all in dual-match action.