No. 6 USC Men Pull Double Duty On Saturday At Marks Stadium|
Feb. 3, 2016
The No. 6 Trojans look to keep their undefeated start to 2016 rolling right along, setting up for double duty this weekend. USC (3-0) will host two teams for a busy day of action on Saturday (Jan. 6) at Marks Stadium. The Trojans will first face off against Grand Canyon for the first time in program history at 10 a.m. Following that matchup, USC will turn to take on LMU at 2 p.m.
ORACLE/ITA RANKINGS UPDATES
The Trojans started off the spring as the No. 8 team in the land in the first team rankings of 2016. This week, USC has moved up to stand at No. 6 in the latest round of national rankings (Jan. 27). The USC men — with Peter Smith at the helm — also have a solid set of newcomers helping to drive the Trojans into 2016. NCAA Quarterfinalists last season, the 2016 Trojans have four players standing out in the opening set of individual rankings (Jan. 5). Junior Nick Crystal leads them all with a career-best singles ranking of #41 after his strong fall efforts. USC’s veteran talent is balanced out with two freshmen also pulling up early singles rankings. USC’s lone senior, Max de Vroome, ranks #115, with two newcomers mixed in among the vets. Freshman Logan Smith is USC’s second-highest ranked player at #69 in the land, and fellow freshman Jake DeVine has secured a spot at #83. The USC men do not have any ranked doubles pairs to start out 2016.
The Lopes are 3-2 overall after beating Idaho State 6-1 and falling to Utah State 7-0 last week. GCU has no players nationally ranked in singles or doubles. This will be the first-ever meeting between USC and Grand Canyon.
The Lions play their first dual match of the year on Friday (Jan. 5) against Pepperdine. LMU has no players nationally ranked in singles or doubles. USC is 4-0 all-time against LMU. The teams last faced in the 2012 season opener, with the Trojans winning it 7-0.
USC was able to get in just one of its two matches on the schedule for last week’s Pac-12/SEC Showdown in Westwood. The Trojans posted a 4-3 win over No. 20 Florida on Saturday but had their Sunday match against No. 6 cancelled due to rain. Against the Gators, USC sewed up the doubles point and had three young Trojans come through in the clutch in singles play to post a comeback win. The Trojans would snag the doubles point with wins at the No. 2 and 3 slots. The early winning momentum was sparked by Rob Bellamy and Jake DeVine’s quick 6-2 win over Perez-Blanco/Wardell on court three. At the No. 2 spot, USC’s senior-freshman combo pack of Max de Vroome and Jack Jaede whipped up a 7-5 upset of Florida’s #40 Lipman/Orkin to score the first point of the day in the Trojans’ column, suspending action on court one and bringing up singles play. USC kept chugging along in early singles action. At the No. 6 spot, sophomore Thibault Forget delivered a smooth 6-3, 6-0 win over Florida’s Jordan Belga to make it a 2-0 Trojan advantage. Freshman Logan Smith bumped his team farther ahead as USC took a 3-0 lead on #69 Smith’s 6-3, 6-1 win over #63 Chase Perez-Blanco. That’s when the Gators made the next move. On court one, #31 Diego Hidalgo managed a 6-4, 6-3 win over USC’s #115 de Vroome to notch a point on the board for Florida. Next, #49 Elliott Orkin topped USC’s #41 Nick Crystal on court two to carve USC’s advantage down to 3-2. The equalizer would come from court five. There, Florida’s Gordon Watson pulled off two tight sets against USC’s Jaede, posting a 7-6, 7-5 decision that leveled the match at 3-3. A similarly tense battle was raging on court three for the decider. USC freshman Jake DeVine proved up to the challenge. After standing his ground in a first-set tiebreaker, #83 DeVine got the break he needed in the second to fend off Florida’s #91 Alfredo Perez for a 7-6 (6), 7-5 victory that clinched the win for the Trojans.
CRYSTAL PICKS UP PAC-12 HONORS
USC junior Nick Crystal became the first Trojan to pick up Pac-12 Player of the Week honors this season with his selection on Jan. 25 after grabbing two big wins for the Trojans to help USC defend its home court for the eight straight year as host of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. In the championship match against a tough Tulane team, Crystal gave USC its first lead of the match with his comeback push from court two. Crystal shook off a shutout in the first set to give his team a lift to a 3-2 advantage in an eventual 4-3 comeback win for the Trojans. The previous day, Crystal played on court one and served up an upset of UC Davis’ #38-ranked player with a quick and decisive 6-1, 6-0 decision in USC’s sweep of the Aggies.It’s Crystal’s second career selection as Pac-12 Men’s Tennis Player of the Week. He first won the award last season for his work in getting the Trojans to two victories at the 2015 ITA Kick-Off Weekend.
THE NEW CLASS
USC head coach Peter Smith has added some bright young talent to the roster for 2016. There are four Trojan freshmen this season, and all four have already made an impact. Jake DeVine recently clinched a 4-3 comeback victory for USC in a win over No. 20 Florida. Fellow freshmen Jack Jaede, Logan Smith and Laurens Verboven also have wasted no time stepping up for the Trojans, as all four freshmen factor into the USC lineup. DeVine and Smith both had such successful falls that the two earned places in the national singles rankings to start 2016. Logan clocked in at #69 to open the spring, and DeVine weighed in at #83.
Max de Vroome is USC’s lone senior on the roster this season. He was the hero of the day when last won an NCAA championship in 2014, providing the match-clinching victory from his spot on court four that year. Now juniors, Rob Bellamy and Nick Crystal were both freshman at Troy that season. Both de Vroome and Crystal earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention last season.
MARKS STADIUM UPGRADE
The USC men’s and women’s tennis teams have called the David X. Marks Tennis Stadium home since its construction in 1971. This year, Trojan tennis will move back into a revamped and renovated home that is up-to-date and in line with the impressive accomplishments of both programs. The courts have been open for action throughout construction, and now the ribbon-cutting and dedication for the new facility is set for Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. That day, the Trojan Family will officially unveil the newest additions to the Marks Tennis Stadium -- the Buntmann Family Tennis Center, Fritz B. Burns Center Court, Lisa and Douglas Goldman Family Student-Athlete Learning Center and Michael Uytengsu Tennis Pavilion -- the happy home of the USC men’s and women’s tennis teams. The Buntmann Family Tennis Center entrance and lobby will welcome fans and visitors and put on display the rich history of USC tennis. To improve the building functionality and support the tennis program operations, the new Lisa and Douglas Goldman Family Student-Athlete Learning Studio will support direct collaboration between coaches, staff and athletes on a daily basis. The teams will be able to utilize and enjoy brand-new suites with lockers, showers, team meeting rooms and lounges. Both teams will have access to a new training room, a stringing storage area and a large multi-purpose room. To better accommodate and enhance the spectator experience, new spectator shade canopies will be added, a new elevator to the seating area will be installed. In addition to the lead gift from the Buntmann family, the renovation has been made possible thanks to financial support from the Lisa and Douglas Goldman family, the Fritz B. Burns Foundation, John Shea and Michael Uytengsu.
The 2015 Trojans made their ninth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Quarterfinals and finished out the year with a 25-5 overall record. The Trojans won the 2015 Pac-12 Tournament championship to secure the automatic berth into the NCAA tourney. USC went 6-1 in Pac-12 play during the regular season to finish in a first-place tie. At the close of the year, USC had three Trojans earn ITA All-American status. Senior doubles tandem Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz were All-Americans in addition to picking up honors as the Pac-12 Doubles Team of the Year. Senior Jonny Wang also earned ITA All-American status in 2015. •