No. 4 USC Men Wrap Regular Season In Westwood
Trojans tangle with rival Bruins at 3 p.m. on Friday for Pac-12 supremacy.
April 16, 2013
USC Men's Tennis Release
THIS WEEKLIVE SCOREBOARD
The No. 4 USC men's tennis team has bragging rights and a Pac-12 title on the line this week when the Trojans (22-2, 5-0 Pac-12) look for revenge over crosstown rival No. 3 UCLA (21-1, 6-0). Both teams stand undefeated in conference play on the way into this Friday's (April 19) showdown at 3 p.m. in Westwood. The Trojans -- who dealt the Bruins their only loss of 2013 to date -- go across town for the regular-season rubber match between the two rivals. The match will also weigh heavily in deciding the seedings for the coming Pac-12 Tournament, where USC is looking to win its second straight tournament title when the teams head to Ojai, Calif., for action April 24-27.
ITA RANKING UPDATES
The USC men opened the season slotted as the No. 2 team in the nation after the Trojans made history with four consecutive NCAA team championships. The Trojans later flip-flopped between No. 2 and No. 3 for the next few weeks, although despite an eight-match win streak the Trojans are currently ranked No. 4 in the latest ITA national team poll (released April 16). The Trojans still boast more than a full lineup of Trojans in the ITA singles and doubles lists (released April 16). A whopping six Trojans are locked into the top-100, led by junior Emilio Gomez at No. 4 and junior All-American Ray Sarmiento at No. 15. Sophomore All-American Roberto Quiroz is next in line at No. 33, followed by sophomore Yannick Hanfmann -- the clincher of the 2012 NCAA Championship -- at No. 57 and sophomore Eric Johnson at No. 65. Sophomore Jonny Wang clocks in at No. 96, with junior Michael Grant just outside the top-100 at No. 101. In doubles, the Trojans have lumped a variety pack of five different pairings into the nation's top-100 duos. No. 32 Hanfmann/Sarmiento lead the way, followed by No. 49 Gomez/Quiroz, No. 57 Gomez/Johnson, No. 62 Hanfmann/Johnson and No. 82 de Vroome/Quiroz.
The April 2 round of national rankings had three Trojans at their highest career spots -- #9 Ray Sarmiento, #86 Jonny Wang and #87 Michael Grant. Emilio Gomez held his career best in the March 26 cycle at #2, and Roberto Quiroz was up to #23 during the March 12 cycle. There has been some movement down the stretch, but the Trojans still boast a whopping seven players in the national singles rankings and five teams in doubles.
The No. 3 Bruins are 21-1 overall and 6-0 in Pac-12 play after a 4-3 win over Pepperdine on Monday and 7-0 sweeps of Oregon and Washington last week. UCLA has four players ranked nationally in singles: #20 Marcos Giron, #22 Adrien Puget, #27 Dennis Novikov and #71 Dennis Mkrtchian. In doubles, UCLA has two ranked teams: #43 Giron/Novikov and #76 Puget/Sell. USC is 88-101 all-time against the Bruins with a season split standing between the two this year so far. USC beat the Bruins 4-3 in the semifinals of the ITA National Indoors, and UCLA claimed a 4-3 win over USC in a nonconference meeting between the two in February. Last season, USC won the nonconference match 6-1 but fell 4-3 in the Pac-12 regular-season clash. The two would square off again in the 2012 Pac-12 Tournament title match, with USC notching a 4-2 win to claim the automatic berth in the 2012 NCAA Championships en route to the Trojans' fourth straight national title.
USC made it a 10-game win streak dating back to a Feb. 22 loss to the Bruins with a winning weekend of Pac-12 play at Marks Stadium last week. USC shut out No. 43 Oregon and beating Washington 6-1 to improve to 5-0 in conference competition on the year. Against the Ducks, USC's rapid-fire victories blasted the Trojans through doubles and continued on through singles. Ray Sarmiento hammered home the clincher from court two to give the Trojans a 21-2 overall record and a clean 4-0 mark in Pac-12 play. Against the Huskies the following day, a string of singles wins sealed the deal once again, with Jonny Wang charging up for the clincher from court six. Once again, the Trojans ripped their way through to the doubles point with two strong wins to start the day. The only blemish on the scoreboard was a loss by #5 Emilio Gomez to Washington's #17 Kyle McMorrow when their match was decided on a 10-point tiebreaker, with Gomez falling in a 7-6 (4), 5-7, 1-0 (10-7) decision that put a point on the board for Washington to finish it as a 6-1 USC victory. For his winning efforts on both the singles and doubles courts, Ray Sarmiento was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the first time this season.
Peter Smith JOINS 500 CLUB
A two-time ITA National Coach of the Year and four-time NCAA Team Champion in his first 10 seasons at USC, USC head coach Peter Smith's milestone 500th career win came as the Trojans' 18th victory of the 2013 season -- a 6-1 win over Stanford on March 29, 2013. Smith now boasts a 504-199 career record as a head coach. Almost half those wins have come in his time at Troy, where he is now 234-64 in his 11th season with the Trojans. Smith, who has guided USC to the NCAA Championship the past four seasons, has also served as a head coach at Long Beach State (50-47), Fresno State (102-57) and Pepperdine (118-31) during his 26 seasons as a head coach.
USC's recent stretch of matches have seen several different Trojans notch their 20th singles wins of the season. Six Trojans are now living large in the club, with sophomores Roberto Quiroz and Eric Johnson the first to break out of the pack, now with 32 and 31 wins to date, respectively. Emilio Gomez, Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento all hit 20 on March 25. USC's 20-win heavy hitters include Jonny Wang (27), Ray Sarmiento (25), Yannick Hanfmann (25), Max de Vroome (24) and Emilio Gomez (22).
Sophomore Roberto Quiroz became the fourth Trojan to be named Pac-12 Player of the Week this season after he punched in wins from both the singles and doubles courts to move the Trojans through a victorious road trip in beating #15 Illinois and #27 Notre Dame last week. Quiroz combined with cousin Emilio Gomez to hammer home the first win of the day in both matches with strong doubles performances to help spark USC to the doubles points. In singles, Quiroz brought home the clincher for USC as he pinned up a straight-set win over Illinois' Bruno Abdelnour. At Notre Dame, Quiroz rebounded from falling in the first-set tiebreaker and fought back for a three-set comeback over Billy Pecor in a Trojan win over the Fighting Irish. Quiroz is now 32-8 overall in singles play and 16-4 in dual matches.
IN A GROOVE
The Trojans have pieced together 10 straight wins, finding a winning groove that has several players riding strong win streaks. Sophomore Yannick Hanfmann leads the pack with 17 straight singles wins, dating back a few months to a Jan. 19 loss in the Sherwood Cup quarterfinals. He's an undefeated 17-0 in dual matches. Also streaking along through 2013 dual-match action are junior Ray Sarmiento (11 in a row) and sophomores Eric Johnson (seven in a row) and Jonny Wang (six).
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 week. 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. He was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for his strength in Seattle. Earning All-Tournament Team honors was Yannick Hanfmann for No. 4 singles and Eric Johnson for No. 6 singles.
PLENTY OF PAC-12 PUNCH
Just three weeks into the fall season, USC had 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.
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 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 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 Quiroz. Sophomore 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.
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.