Men's Tennis
    Top-seeded Trojans Start Search For Four In A Row
    The first stop for the Trojans' NCAA train is Marks Stadium this weekend.
    The first stop for the Trojans' NCAA train is Marks Stadium this weekend.

    May 9, 2012

    USC Men's Tennis NCAA ReleaseGet Acrobat Reader

    TEAM PLAY
    The USC men's tennis team has been on top of the nation's rankings all season long. Rightly so, as the Trojans stand tall as the three-time defending national champions. For this year's campaign for a fourth straight crown, the target is even more firmly tagged on USC's back, with the Trojans set as the No. 1 seed in the 2012 NCAA Championship draw. Once again, the journey begins at home for USC, which sets up camp at Marks Stadium next week for opening action in the NCAA First and Second Rounds. USC will play host to Fairfield, South Carolina and Texas A&M for the opening rounds. On Saturday, May 12, South Carolina (15-11) and Texas A&M (13-14) will face off in first-round action at 9 a.m. at Marks Stadium. At 12 p.m., the Trojans (27-1) will take on Fairfield (16-4). The winners of Saturday's play will advance to the second round match, set for 12 p.m. on Sunday, May 13.

    INTERACTIVE NCAA TEAM BRACKET

    FOLLOW ALONG
    Live scoring from the NCAA First and Second Rounds at Marks Stadium will be AVAILABLE ONLINE.

    NCAA NOTES
    This will be USC's first soiree into the postseason as the top seed, tabbed at No. 8 in 2009, No. 5 in 2010 and No. 2 in 2011. Every year, USC knocked off the respective No. 1 seeds on the way to racking up its three consecutive crowns. Now, the Trojans' knack for championships and dominating 27-1 overall record has them standing tall as the No. 1 seed for 2012. The Trojans are aiming to become just the second team in NCAA history to win four consecutive national championships under the current NCAA team tournament format. Stanford won a string of titles in 1995-98. This year's NCAA appearance is USC's sixth straight trip to the postseason and 34th overall. This year's run can take the Trojans back to the site of their 2010 NCAA crown, won in Athens, Ga. USC leads the nation with 19 national championships all-time, and holds an 80-29 overall record in the NCAA Tournament.

    SCOUTING FAIRFIELD
    Fairfield (16-4) is making its first-ever NCAA appearance after securing an automatic berth by winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Fairfield is coached by Ed Paige, who is in his sixth season as head coach of the Stags men's and women's teams. Fairfield has no players ranked in singles or doubles. This will be the first-ever meeting between USC and Fairfield.

    SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA
    South Carolina (15-11) is ranked No. 41 in the nation on the way into its 20th NCAA appearance, having doubled its overall and SEC win totals from last season. South Carolina's last appearance was in 2009 when it fell 4-0 to North Carolina in the first round. Josh Goffi is in his second season as head coach of the Gamecocks, who have #115 Ivan Machado and #122 Andrew Adams nationally ranked in singles and #23 Cox/Jones ranked in doubles. USC is 3-1 all-time against the Gamecocks with their last meetings coming in 1990. That year, South Carolina beat USC 5-3 at the ITCA Team Indoors, and USC later

    SCOUTING TEXAS A&M
    Texas A&M (13-14) is ranked No. 30 in the nation on the way into its 20th NCAA appearance. This will be the Aggies' 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament, having earned an at-large berth this year. Last year, Texas A&M was the No. 9 seed and hosted the first and second rounds, defeating Alcorn State and LSU before advancing to the Round of 16 at Stanford where they lost to the host Cardinal, 4-2. Steve Denton is in his sixth season as head coach of the Aggies, who have #33 Alexis Klegou ranked nationally in singles and #37 Ore/Withrow and #87 Hoover/Lewis ranked in doubles. USC is 6-2 all-time against Texas A&M after a 5-2 win earlier this season.

    SEARCHING FOR HISTORY
    Fresh off winning the inaugural Pac-12 Team Championship, the Trojans tote a 27-1 overall record into the 2012 NCAA Tournament with their sixth straight 20-win season already inked in the books. But USC is looking for more. Already having matched last year's 27 wins, the Trojans could finish 2012 one win shy of the program record of 34 wins set in 1985 if USC is able to successfully defend its three straight national titles.

    TROJANS TO DATE
    This year, USC has two seniors at the forefront of its push for four. Steve Johnson carries what is understood to be an unprecedented 60-match singles win streak into the Trojans' 2012 postseason campaign, where he also is the defending NCAA Singles Champion. Daniel Nguyen has been the clincher for the Trojans in two of their past three NCAA Team Championships. Both know how to win titles, and they are leading a powerful bunch of winners this year as well. Sophomores Ray Sarmiento and Emilio Gomez have been mainstays in the Trojan lineup since coming to Troy last year for the 2011 title run. What they learned as freshmen last year, newcomers Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz have been soaking up all season.

    CAMPBELL/ITA RANKING UPDATES
    The USC men remain ranked where they left off in 2011 -- at the top of the national rankings for the 14th straight cycle (latest released May 8) in a 2012 season that the Trojans hope to finish out on top of for the fourth straight year. In the latest individual rankings (released May 8), defending NCAA Singles Champion Steve Johnson finally weighs in at No. 1 after sitting at No. 2 for a long stretch this season. He leads an almost complete lineup of ranked Trojans. Fellow senior Daniel Nguyen is next at No. 21, followed by ITA Southwest Regional Singles Champion Ray Sarmiento at No. 25, along with No. 51 Yannick Hanfmann and No. 57 Emilio Gomez. In doubles, USC has two top-10 pairings -- S. Johnson/Quiroz tabbed at No. 2 and Hanfmann/S. Johnson ranked No. 8 in the nation -- with its winningest pair Nguyen/Sarmiento also in the mix at No. 35.

    SINGLES SCENE
    In men's singles, top-seeded Steve Johnson will open up defense of his 2011 NCAA Singles title with four other Trojans in the men's singles draw as well. Johnson is the Pac-12's automatic qualifier as the highest ranked member of the conference, holding strong at No. 2 in the nation while carrying a 60-match singles win streak into the coming NCAA Team Championships beginning next week. USC sophomore Ray Sarmiento -- ranked No. 25 in the nation -- will make his second appearance in the NCAA Singles bracket after picking up All-American honors last year with a run to the NCAA Round of 16 in his freshman season. Senior Daniel Nguyen also is making his second run at the NCAA Singles draw after reaching the Round of 32 last year, standing as USC's second highest ranked player at No. 17. New to the NCAA field, USC sophomore Emilio Gomez and freshman Yannick Hanfmann will make their first journey into NCAA individual play this month. Both have had powerful winning seasons so far for the Trojans. Hanfmann holds at No. 53 ranking, and Gomez is No. 60.

    DOUBLES DUTY
    In NCAA doubles, the USC men have the undefeated pairing of Steve Johnson / Roberto Quiroz weighing in as the automatic qualifiers out of the Pac-12, ranked No. 3 in the nation and taking the No. 2 seed into the 2012 NCAA Doubles Championships. Johnson/Quiroz have gone a perfect 14-0 together on the way into the NCAA Team Championships. Outside of that, USC has two pairings tagged as alternates for the NCAA doubles draw. Johnson and Yannick Hanfmann would be the next duo in, should Quiroz opt not to play in the postseason. USC's Daniel Nguyen / Ray Sarmiento also are listed as an alternate team.

    THIS TIME LAST YEAR
    USC was ranked No. 2 in the nation and held the No. 2 seed into the 2011 NCAA Tournament with a 21-2 overall record. The Trojans already had their fifth straight 20-win season in the books thanks to a 14-match win streak they carried into the postseason -- the first time since 2002 that USC would enter the NCAA Tournament with a win in their final regular-season dual match. That streak included an undefeated finish in Pac-10 competition to wrap up the outright conference crown for the Trojans -- the first perfect Pac-10 finish for USC since 1987. Ranked No. 1 in the nation, Steve Johnson had just recently added the 2011 Pac-10 Singles Championship to his laundry list of titles, becoming the third Trojan in the past four years to sweep the Pac-10 titles with his run to the Pac-10 Doubles Championship with freshman teammate Ray Sarmiento. Johnson and Sarmiento were two of four Trojans ranked in the nation for singles, and one of three USC pairs on the national doubles list. #1 Johnson was joined by #38 senior Jaak Poldma, #44 Daniel Nguyen and #47 Sarmiento in the singles standings. Poldma and JT Sundling led the doubles packs at #22, with Johnson/Sarmiento at #25 and Johnson and Nguyen paired up at #80. In 2011, USC again began its NCAA push from Marks Stadium, blanking Sacramento State and San Diego 4-0 to punch a ticket to the Round of 16 and beyond at Stanford. There, the Trojans shut out Georgia 4-0 and then beat Kentucky 4-1. In the semifinals, USC beat sixth-seeded Georgia 4-0 and went on to edge top-seeded Virginia 4-3 in the championship match. Daniel Nguyen clinched the win for the Trojans -- the second straight time he had provided the championship clincher for USC after also doing so in 2010 as a sophomore.

    PAC-12 TEAM CHAMPS
    Top-ranked and No. 2 seeded USC laid the foundation for another win streak in beating top-seeded UCLA 4-2 to claim the title at the inaugural Pac-12 Team Championship. Now 27-1 overall, the Trojans clinched the conference's automatic berth into the coming 2012 NCAA Tournament, where USC goes in pursuit of a fourth straight national championship. The win also avenged a streak-snapping loss to the Bruins in their regular-season finale. After the Trojans topped Stanford 4-0 to register the Trojans' historic third shutout of the Cardinal this year, USC sought revenge against UCLA in the title match. The 4-2 win over the Bruins was clinched by Steve Johnson, who recorded his 60th consecutive singles victory in the match-clinching win. In singles, Emilio Gomez would get another dose of revenge in his No. 4 singles rematch with UCLA's #71 Marcos Giros to take USC ahead 3-0 in the match later. The Bruin had pulled out a brutal three-setter the previous week, but Gomez stayed in control of this one for a solid 6-4, 6-3 win. Later, up 4-2, USC had two Trojans serving for the match at the same time. USC's #2 senior Steve Johnson was the one to get it done first, claiming a three-set win over UCLA's #17 Nick Meister to tally Johnson's 60th consecutive singles win. That clincher left Yannick Hanfmann's No. 5 singles match suspended and closed out the match as a 4-2 Trojan win for a lift on the way to the coming NCAA Tournament.

    STREAKING STEVIE
    Senior Steve Johnson finished his junior season with a 35-match singles winning streak in claiming the 2011 NCAA Singles Championship. On March 15, Johnson reached his 50th singles win in a row -- playing at the same site (College Station, Texas) where he helped USC win the 2009 NCAA Championship as a freshman. Now at 60-in-a-row, the streak dates back over a year to Jan. 17, 2011, when Johnson fell to Stanford's Bradley Klahn in the Sherwood Collegiate Cup final. And his overall singles win streak is just a part of a similarly impressive dual-match tally. As of May 8, Johnson has won 54 straight dual-match singles matches, with the last loss dating back more than two years ago to #9 Henrique Cunha of Duke on March 17, 2010. 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. He's 25-0 overall this season and 20-0 in dual-match play in 2012.

    Peter Smith: 200 IN A DECADE
    Currently in his 10th year as head coach at USC, Peter Smith just hit another benchmark. Already the owner of three straight NCAA Team Championships, he's seen his players win both the 2008 NCAA Doubles Championship and the 2011 NCAA Singles Championship to date. While chugging along on what grew to be a 45-match win streak, Smith picked up his 200th career victory at Troy. Smith entered the 2012 season with a 179-61 overall record as head coach at USC, and win No. 200 was locked in with a 7-0 sweep by the Trojans at Oregon on March 31.

    PICKS OF THE PAC
    USC landed five different Trojans on the conference honor roll this season, including two double winners in sophomore Ray Sarmiento and freshman Yannick Hanfmann. USC's run of Pac-12 Player of the Week honorees began with Sarmiento on Jan. 30 for his third career selection after sweeping in singles and doubles at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. USC next had back-to-back freshman honorees, with Hanfmann picked on Feb. 20 after two upset wins in doubles and three straight-set singles victories on the way clinching the 2012 ITA National Team Indoor Championship with a comeback singles win in the title match. Roberto Quiroz would win next, a week later on Feb. 27, after a winning weekend sweep of San Diego State and San Diego. USC's seniors would be the next to get on the board in another back-to-back Trojan effort. On March 19, senior Steve Johnson collected his fifth career weekly award when he swept doubles and singles on a winning trip through Texas, where he also notched his 50th straight singles win. Daniel Nguyen then grabbed his third career pick as Player of the Week on March 26 for a winning day in USC's victory over No. 10 Florida, and Sarmiento's second pick of the year on April 2 now marked a three-week sweep by the Trojans. After a week off, Hanfmann brought USC back to the honor roll with his second career pick on April 16.

    BY THE NUMBERS
    The 20-win club has begun spilling into the 30s for the Trojan men. Freshman Yannick Hanfmann (33-8, 20-4) leads the pack with 33 wins apiece, followed closely by sophomore Ray Sarmiento (32-11 overall, 17-6 dual), sophomore Emilio Gomez (32-7, 18-4) and senior Daniel Nguyen (32-8, 21-3) across the 30-win barrier. Two more Trojans, meanwhile, are locked into the 20-win zone: Senior Steve Johnson, who boasts an unblemished 25-0 overall record and 20-0 mark in dual matches, and freshman Roberto Quiroz (25-4, 22-3). Freshman Eric Johnson is the next in line to hit the 20-win mark, sitting at 19-9, 8-2. USC's doubles dynamos Nguyen/Sarmiento are already in the club with a 25-4 overall doubles record (20-2 dual) to lead all the Trojan doubles duos to date, ahead of Gomez/Hanfmann (19-2, 12-2) and the perfect pairing of Steve Johnson and Quiroz (14-0, 14-0).

    INDOOR CHAMPS
    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.

    LAST SEASON
    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.