Trojans Emilio Gomez, Yannick Hanfmann, Roberto Quiroz and Ray Sarmiento start singles play in Illinois.
May 21, 2013
USC Men's NCAA Individuals
Four Trojans will fight for an NCAA Singles crown this month in Illinois. Picking up the No. 7 seed into the 2013 NCAA Men's Singles draw is junior Emilio Gomez
, joined by fellow junior Ray Sarmiento
as a 9-16 seed. Two USC sophomores -- Yannick Hanfmann
and Roberto Quiroz
-- also scored at-large berths into the NCAA singles action, which will run May 22-27 in Urbana, Ill.
Ray Sarmiento will be making his third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Singles scene, having earned All-American honors as a freshman with a run to the Round of 16. He reached the Round of 32 last season. This year, Sarmiento has been ranked as high as No. 9 in the nation, and he's secured a spot as a 9-16 seed for this 2013 NCAA Singles competition. With a 25-6 overall singles record to date, he's ranked No. 16 in the nation in the latest ITA rankings cycle. Emilio Gomez, too, has hit his highest career singles ranking this season, having sat as high as No. 2 during the year. He takes the No. 7 seed into the 2013 NCAA Singles draw as the Pac-12's automatic qualifier. Currently holding a 22-6 overall singles record, Gomez is ranked No. 7 in the nation. This will be Gomez' second trip into NCAA Singles action, having reached the Round of 16 last year. His high seed into the 2013 tourney secures Gomez as an ITA All-American for the first time in his Trojan career. A return trip to NCAA Singles play also is in order for USC sophomore Yannick Hanfmann, who scored a spot in the 2012 tourney as a freshman. USC's winningest player in dual-match action (19-1), Hanfmann holds a 27-6 overall singles mark and is ranked No. 45 in the latest ITA singles rankings. Making his first appearance in the NCAA Singles draw after picking up ITA All-American honors on the doubles side last year is sophomore Roberto Quiroz. He, too, has taken up his highest career singles ranking this season, having held the No. 23 spot during the year. He's now No. 36 in the nation in singles and boast the most singles wins of all his Trojan teammates to date with a 34-9 overall record.
FOLLOW ALONG HERE
SINGLES FIRST ROUND - May 22
6 a.m. PT -  Emilio Gomez (USC) vs. Jarryd Botha (Alabama)
11 a.m. PT - [9-16] Ray Sarmiento (USC) vs. Max Wennakoski (VCU)
11 a.m. PT - Yannick Hanfmann (USC) vs. Andrew Bettles (Boise State)
12 p.m. PT - Roberto Quiroz (USC) vs. Dane Webb (Oklahoma)
Last season, the Trojans became 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 was USC's seventh straight trip to the postseason and 35th overall. USC leads the nation with 20 national championships all-time, and now holds an 89-30 overall record in the NCAA Tournament after falling to No. 5 seeded Ohio State in this year's NCAA Quarterfinals. This year's No. 4 seed into the draw follows last season's No. 1 seed, having been tabbed at No. 8 in 2009, No. 5 in 2010 and No. 2 in 2011 during USC's run to four consecutive NCAA titles.
TROJANS TO DATE
For the first time since 2007, the USC men went in pursuit of an NCAA crown without the services of Steve Johnson and Daniel Nguyen. This year, the Trojans have no seniors on their NCAA roster. But USC is still fully loaded with talent. Entering the postseason, a whopping six Trojans were ranked in the nation's top-100: #7 Emilio Gomez, #16 Ray Sarmiento, #36 Roberto Quiroz, #45 Yannick Hanfmann, #90 Eric Johnson and #98 Jonny Wang. All juniors, sophomores and freshmen, the Trojans are younger than their previous championship crews, but still experienced. There's still plenty of championship blood remaining, with several members of USC's fourth straight NCAA title winning team still in the mix, led by the highly ranked Gomez, ITA All-Americans Sarmiento and Quiroz, and the 2012 championship clincher Hanfmann. USC secured its seventh straight 20-win season and seventh straight appearance in the NCAA Quarterfinals.
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, and the Trojans now are currently ranked No. 4 in the latest ITA national team poll (released May 2). The Trojans still boast more than a full lineup of Trojans in the ITA singles and doubles lists (released May 2), led by junior Emilio Gomez at No. 7 and junior All-American Ray Sarmiento at No. 16. Sophomore All-American Roberto Quiroz is next in line at No. 36, followed by sophomore Yannick Hanfmann -- the clincher of the 2012 NCAA Championship -- at No. 45 and sophomore Eric Johnson at No. 90. Sophomore Jonny Wang clocks in at No. 98, just ahead of junior Michael Grant at No. 101. In doubles, the Trojans have lumped a variety pack of four different pairings into the nation's top-100 duos. No. 37 Hanfmann/Sarmiento lead the way, followed by No. 47 Gomez/Quiroz, No. 73 Hanfmann/Johnson, and No. 81 Gomez/Johnson.
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 grand total of seven players in the national singles rankings and four ranked doubles teams.
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, 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. With this year's 26-5 finish, Smith now boasts a 508-202 career record as a head coach. Almost half those wins have come in his time at Troy, where he is now 238-67 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 rolled up its fifth straight 25-win season this year, and many Trojans also pinned up big numbers on the singles scene. Entering the NCAA Individual Championships, the big winner to date has been Roberto Quiroz, who boasts 37 overall wins entering the NCAA Singles competition. In the dual-match realm, Quiroz, Eric Johnson and Yannick Hanfmann all finished matched with a team-hih 21 wins apiece. Hanfmann was near-perfect in dual-match play at 21-1. Overall, Quiroz has two fellow sophomores in the 30-win club with him, as Johnson has won 35 and Jonny Wang just hit 30. Meanwhile, USC's 20-win heavy hitters include Hanfmann (29), Max de Vroome (27), Ray Sarmiento (25) and Emilio Gomez (23).
PLENTY OF PAC-12 PUNCH
USC's depth charge of talent has reaped plenty of rewards this season. Five different Trojans have earned honors as Pac-12 Player of the Week for their winning ways throughout the regular season. Junior Emilio Gomez led off the honor roll with the Jan. 29 award following straight-set singles wins at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The next week, freshman Max de Vroome was honored on Feb. 5 as he extended win streaks in singles and doubles during a stretch of five USC wins in a six-day period. Next on the list was sophomore Yannick Hanfmann, whose Feb. 19 pick came as he helped lead USC back to the ITA National Team Indoor title match with three straight-set singles wins. The following month, sophomore Roberto Quiroz got on the board with Pac-12 Player of the Week honors on March 26 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. The final Trojan to join the list of honorees was junior Ray Sarmiento, who helped USC roll along to a 10-match win streak while building up 11 straight singles wins during Pac-12 victories over Oregon and Washington.
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.