No. 10 USC Men Dig In For Saturday Doubleheader

    Jan. 19, 2017

    USC Men's Tennis Release Get Acrobat Reader

    THIS WEEK
    The No. 10 Trojans stick to their home courts again this weekend as they set up for two more dual matches to get the ball rolling in these early stages of 2017. USC (1-0) has a doubleheader on tap for Saturday (Jan. 21), first facing off against UC Riverside (1-2) at 10 a.m. before turning to a 2 p.m. clash against UC Irvine (0-1).

    THE LAST MEETING
    UC Riverside1
    USC6
    January 19, 2015
    Marks Stadium
    First Win Of 2015 In The Books For Top-Ranked Trojans
    The No. 1 USC men's tennis team fired off a comeback victory to kick off its 2015 campaign today, capturing a 6-1 win over visiting UC Riverside at Marks Stadium. The Highlanders drew first blood in the season opener by snagging the doubles point, but the Trojans regrouped and rang up a run of six straight-set singles victories to cruise to a 1-0 start to the year. Sophomore Rob Bellamy would stand tall as the clincher in this one, while USC true freshmen Thibault Forget and Tanner Smith notched their first career dual-match wins as Trojans.

    THE LAST MEETING
    UC Irvine0
    USC7
    February 7, 2015
    Marks Stadium
    ORACLE/ITA RANKINGS UPDATES
    For the 10th straight season, the USC men’s tennis team kicked off the new year ranked in the nation’s top-10 of the Oracle/ITA rankings. The Trojans opened 2017 ranked No. 10 in the nation. After the first week of play, USC remains at No. 10 in the land (as of Jan. 18). The first individual rankings of 2017 (released Jan. 4) saw four Trojans ranked in singles and two ranked doubles teams. In that latest round of rankings, freshman Brandon Holt topped the list for the Trojans as he opens his USC career ranked No. 20 in the nation in singles. Sophomore Logan Smith now holds his highest career rank, slotted at No. 28 in singles. Senior Nick Crystal weighs in at No. 88, and junior Thibault Forget ranks No. 114 to kick off the new year. In doubles, USC has Forget and Logan Smith listed as the No. 35 doubles pair in the nation, with senior Rob Bellamy also paired with Smith at No. 49.

    SCOUTING UC RIVERSIDE
    The Highlanders are 1-2 overall after a 7-0 win over Hope International and a 5-2 loss to Nevada on Wednesday. UCR has no players ranked in singles or doubles. USC is 2-0 all-time against the Highlanders with a 7-0 win in 2014 and a 6-1 in their last meeting in 2015.

    SCOUTING UC IRVINE
    The Anteaters are 0-1 overall after a 6-1 loss to Utah State last weekend. UCI has no players ranked in singles or doubles. USC is 43-3 all-time against the Anteaters, having posted a 7-0 win in the teams’ most recent meeting in 2015.

    LAST ACTION
    USC set the scene for its 2017 campaign in opening the year with a 6-1 win over visiting UC Santa Cruz on the Trojans’ home courts at Marks Stadium. USC rattled off the double point first and then peeled out to victory in claiming five straight-set singles matches, with the pincher coming from freshman Riley Smith on court three. The Trojans whipped up the doubles point with two swift wins on courts one and two. Freshman sensations Brandon Holt and Riley Smith paired up with their typical power and drilled out a 6-1 win over Slugs Dugan/Stone to get the 2017 season off on a winning note. Soon after, David Laser and Laurens Verboven finished off a 6-3 win over Hollister/Stone, and the first point of the match was on the board for the Trojans. In singles play, it was veteran #114 Thibault Forget who set the tone for his Trojan teammates in ripping through to a 6-0, 6-1 victory on court one over UC Santa Cruz’ Chad Stone. Up 2-0, USC saw the same freshmen who rang up the first double win of the year find similar success on the singles courts. At the No. 2 spot, #20 Brandon Holt took out Chad LeDuff 6-2, 6-1 to make it a 3-0 USC advantage, and then his double partner Riley Smith secured victory for the Trojans with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Derek Levchenko on court three. Just seconds later, junior Henry Ji topped off his court four match for a 6-3, 6-2 win over Sean Hollister, and USC gripped a 5-0 lead on the Banana Slugs. Playing in the first dual match of his Trojan career, Jens Sweaney emerged victorious, notching a 6-4, 6-3 win over Ryan Dugan to lock in a 6-0 lead for the Trojans. That left a battle still raging on court five, where David Laser was looking to force a third set. His UC Santa Cruz opponent, Alexander Flora, would steal away that hope with a comeback effort in the second set to win it 7-5, 6-4 and round out the match as a 6-1 USC decision.

    2017 TROJANS AT A GLANCE
    The No. 10 Trojans are on the cusp of the 2017 spring season, where they will be looking to open up another path to the NCAA Tournament. With five national championships claimed in the last eight years, Peter Smith’s Trojans are poised for another successful campaign. Coming off a 2016 journey to the NCAA Round of 16, the 2017 Trojans look to improve on that 17-7 record from last season. With the loss of just one senior from that team, USC has a powerful arrangement of young and experienced talent this year. The 2017 Oracle/ITA singles rankings are a reflection of that balance, as USC has a freshman (Brandon Holt), sophomore (Logan Smith), junior (Thibault Forget) and senior (Nick Crystal) nationally ranked to open 2017.

    FALL STARS
    Brandon Holt was the star of the fall for the Trojans, posting a 17-3 record out of the gates while snagging the consolation title at the ITA All-American to earn a place at ITA National Indoors in New York, and while also winning the Southern California Intercollegiate crown. Logan Smith’s highlight for the fall was a run to the ITA Southwest Regional singles semifinals, while accumulating a 9-6 singles mark. Nick Crystal, meanwhile, had faced Holt in that Southern California Intercollegiate semi, and also competed at the ITA Oracle and ITA All-American events en route to a 6-5 fall singles record. Thibault Forget racked up 11 wins in the fall, going 11-4 while reaching the ITA Southwest Regional singles title match along the way.

    BY THE NUMBERS
    As dual match play opens up, there are four Trojans who have already broken into the 10-win club on the singles scene this season. Freshman Brandon Holt leads the way with 18 wins to his name to date. Senior Rob Bellamy and junior Thibault Forget have each collected 14 singles wins so far, with junior Henry Ji freshly inked in the 10-win zone with 10 wins. In doubles, USC’s winningest pair is currently the talented freshman duo of Brandon Holt and Riley Smith with eight wins together to date. •