No. 8 USC Men To Face Florida & Georgia In Pac-12/SEC Showdown

    Feb. 1, 2017

    USC Men's Tennis Release Get Acrobat Reader

    THIS WEEK
    The No. 8 Trojans will engage in the fourth annual edition of the Pac-12/SEC Showdown this week, shoving off four Gainesville, Fla., for the Gators’ turn to host the event. Looking to preserve its perfect record at the Showdown, USC (5-0) will first take on host No. 11 Florida in a 1:30 p.m. ET matchup on Saturday (Feb. 4). On Sunday (Feb. 5), the Trojans turn to face No. 5 Georgia at 10 a.m. ET.

    THE LAST MEETING
    USC4
    Florida3
    January 30, 2016
    Westwood, Calif.
    No. 8 USC Men Sneak Past No. 20 Florida 4-3
    The No. 8 USC men’s tennis team sewed up the doubles point and had three young Trojans come through in the clutch in singles play to post a 4-3 comeback win over No. 20 Florida in the Pac-12/SEC Showdown at the Los Angeles Tennis Center in Westwood today. Tomorrow (Jan. 31), USC will square off against No. 6 Georgia in a 10 a.m. matchup to round out the Trojans’ action at the annual event.

    THE LAST MEETING
    USC3
    Georgia (Round of 16)4
    May 20, 2016
    Tulsa, Okla.
    No. 7 Seeded Georgia Edges No. 10 USC In NCAA Round of 16
    The No. 10 seeded USC men's tennis team played an intensely competitive NCAA Round of 16 match against No. 7 seed Georgia and came up just a touch short in a 4-3 loss to the Bulldogs. In a see-saw battle that went down to the wire as the sun set on Tulsa's Michael D. Case Tennis Center, Georgia got a late rally on court one to secure the match on a heart-pounding three-setter. The Trojans' loss wraps the 2016 season with a 17-7 overall record.

    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. As of the latest set of national team rankings (Feb. 1), USC has at No. 8 in the land for the second week. 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 FLORIDA
    The No. 11 Gators are 4-0 overall after beating UNC Wilmington and LSU both 4-0 at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend last week. Florida has six players ranked nationally in singles: #13 Alfredo Perez, #64 Elliott Orkin, #67 McClain Kessler, #93 Joshua Wardell, #98 Maxx Lipman and #107 Jardan Belga. In doubles, Florida has #3 Ingildsen/Perez and #29 Lipman/Orkin in the national rankings. USC is 7-2 all-time against Florida with wins in the past three Pac-12/SEC Showdowns. The Trojans beat the Gators 4-0 in the 2014 edition at Marks Stadium, 5-2 in Athens, Ga., in 2015, and 4-3 last year in Westwood.

    SCOUTING GEORGIA
    The No. 5 Bulldogs are 3-0 overall after beating Purdue 4-1 and Washington 4-0 at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend last week. Georgia has five players ranked nationally in singles: ##22 Wayne Montgomery, #31 Emil Reinberg, #56 Jan Zielinski, #79 Walker Duncan and #124 Nathan Ponwith. In doubles, Georgia has #24 Loeb/Montgomery, #37 Duncan/ZIelinski, #41 Montgomery/Reinberg, #46 Ponwith/Reinberg and #54 Loeb/Zielinski in the national rankings. USC is 15-12 all-time against Georgia. With two wins and a rainoutin the past three Pac-12/SEC Showdowns. The Trojans beat the Bulldogs 4-0 in the 2014 edition at Marks Stadium, 4-0 in Athens, Ga., in 2015, and had their match rained out last year in Westwood. Georgia claimed win in the most recent meeting, though, beating the Trojans 4-3 in the 2016 NCAA Round of 16 in Tulsa, Okla.

    LAST WEEK
    USC made a winning push through ITA Kick-Off Weekend for the ninth straight season, beating East Tennessee State 4-0 on day one and then topping San Diego 6-1 in the championship bout to punch that ticket to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships once again. En route to the sweep of the visiting Bucs, USC pounced quickly in doubles, as Nick Crystal and Laurens Verboven combined forces on court one to scoot to a 6-1 win over ETSU’s Herrera/Nuñez. Soon after, Thibault Forget and Jack Jaede ripped off a 6-2 win to secure a quick doubles point for the Trojans. Their win over ETSU’s Albin/Lugo on court three suspended play with Trojans Rob Bellamy and Jake DeVine closing in on a win on court two, bringing up singles play next. At the No. 5 spot for singles, Jack Jaede stayed in winning mode, drumming up a 6-1, 6-2 win over David Gonzalez to tack a 2-0 lead on the board of the Trojans Next, it was freshman Riley Smith who came through from court six with a 6-4, 6-2 decision over Wenceslao Albin. That made it a heated race to get the clincher in the match, and #88 Nick Crystal was the first to the finish line. The senior captain closed down the action at Marks Stadium with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Robert Herrera to make it a 4-0 sweep for the Trojans. On court four, Jake DeVine was just a swing away from a win, but with play suspended on the clincher, competition was done for the day. Against the Toreros on Sunday, USC grabbed the doubles point and then pinned up five straight singles wins, with the singles clincher coming from Riley Smith on court six. It was a race to the finish line to win the doubles point. Brandon Holt and Riley Smith made quick work of USD’s Filip Vittek and Josh Page on court one, winning their match 6-2. They were closely followed by Rob Bellamy and Jack DeVine on court 3, who wrapped up their match against Alex Araouzos and Gui Osorio 6-2, barely beating out Nick Crystal and Laurens Verboven. Crystal and Verbovens’ match against USD’s Guus Koevermans and Joel Gamerov was suspended at 5-2 and singles play commenced. On court three, Nick Crystal got the job done quickly, finishing first with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Josh Page. Brandon Holt followed soon after with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Guus Koevermans on court two. It was Riley Smith, over on court six, who clinched the championship for the Trojans today, beating Alex Araouzos 6-1, 6-3. The two teams played it out this sunny afternoon, and Logan Smith was the next to finish on court one. He got off to a slightly slower start, down 0-2, but battled back to win it in straight sets 6-2, 6-4. Jack Jaede finished fifth on court five. Jaede had a brisk 6-0 set to begin his match, but then faltered a little, dropping the second set 3-6 to Gui Osorio. Yet, Jaede managed to fight on in the decisive third set, winning it 6-3 and scoring another point for the Trojans. All attention then turned to court four where Jake DeVine was battling it out with Joel Gamerov. DeVine lost the first set in a tiebreaker, but came back to win the second set 6-3 and force a 10-point tiebreaker to decide the match. It was a tough fight, but Gamerov emerged victorious in winning the breaker 10-3 and getting a point on the board for USD and wrap up competition at Marks Stadium for the weekend.

    BY THE NUMBERS
    As dual match play develops, one Trojans has broken ground on the 20-win club to date. Freshman Brandon Holt claimed his 20th singles win in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend championship bout against San Diego. Behind Holt’s charge, there are four Trojans who have claimed double-digit singles victories so far this season. Senior Rob Bellamy and junior Thibault Forget have each collected 15 singles wins so far, with junior Henry Ji and sophomore Logan Smith locked in with 11 apiece. In doubles, USC’s winningest pair is currently the talented freshman duo of Brandon Holt and Riley Smith with 10 wins together to date.

    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.

    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. •