No. 9 USC Men Journey Eastward For ITA National Team Indoors|
Feb. 15, 2017
The No. 9 Trojans head to the East Coast this week to engage in action at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, setting up camp in Charlottesville, Va., to play as one of the top 16 teams in the land. Competition runs Feb. 17-20, with USC (8-1) opening up the trip with a clash against crosstown rival UCLA. The Trojans and the Bruins are lined up for a Round of 16 faceoff starting at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday (Feb. 17) to fight for a spot in the next day’s quarterfinals.
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. 8), USC is at No. 9 in the land after two cycles at the No. 8 spot. The latest individual rankings of 2017 (released Feb. 8) has four Trojans ranked in singles and three ranked doubles teams. In that latest round of rankings, freshman Brandon Holt remains at the top of the list for the Trojans as he’s upgraded his ranking to No. 13 in the nation in singles. Sophomore Logan Smith is next in line, now slotted at No. 36 in singles. Two more Trojans are enjoying their first career appearances in the national rankings, with senior Rob Bellamy ranked No. 97 and sophomore Jack Jaede at No. 119. In doubles, USC’s freshman duo of Holt and Riley Smith has popped up into the rankings for the first time, sitting at No. 32 in the nation. Senior Nick Crystal and junior Laurens Verboven are locked in at No. 35, and Thibault Forget and Logan Smith are paired up at No. 40.
ITA INDOOR LINEUP
The 2017 ITA National Team Indoor Championships boasts a field of 15 teams that emerged victorious from their respective ITA Kick-Off Weekend sites, along with host Virginia. 16 ranked teams in the nation. Defending champion North Carolina enters as the No. 5 seeded team in the draw (and ranked No. 5 in the nation). Following top-seeded host Virginia (No. 1) are No. 2 Wake Forest (2), No. 3 Ohio State (3) and No. 4 California (4). Following defending champ UNC’s fifth seed is No. 6 Northwestern (7), No. 7 Florida (6), No. 8 UCLA (7), No. 9 USC (9), No. 10 Texas (11), No. 11 Oklahoma State (12), No. 12 Georgia (10), No. 13 Baylor (13), No. 14 Oklahoma (14), No. 15 Mississippi State (16) and No. 16 seeded Utah State (NR).
AT LAST YEAR’S TOURNEY
Last year in Charlottesville, USC was the No. 4 seed in the 2016 ITA National Team Indoor Championships. For the first time in four years, the Trojans were unable to reach the title match. USC got off on a good foot in pulling out a 4-3 win over No. 13 South Florida, with the clincher coming from Thibault Forget on court six. The next day, though, USC fell 4-3 in the quarterfinals to No. 2 TCU, snapping a 6-0 start to the year by the Trojans. In the consolation match to wrap the trip to Virginia, USC fell 4-0 to No. 10 Wake Forest.
USC was able to get two matches in before inclement weather was due to move into the Los Angeles area, bumping up a doubleheader of action up by a day last week in lieu of risking postponement. The move worked out well, as USC was able to get both matches in today, while ringing up two wins with 6-1 scores over visiting San Francisco and UC Davis at Marks Stadium. USC strung up the first four points in both matches, with the win over the Dons clinched by Laurens Verboven and the victory over the Aggies secured by Brandon Holt. First up in the day’s doubleheader was San Francisco, which the Trojans were able to work out ahead of early on a quick doubles point captured with wins on courts two and three. USC’s #35 pairing of Nick Crystal and Laurens Verboven delivered the first win, a 6-1 victory on court two before teammates Rob Bellamy and Jack Jaede secured the first point of the day on their 6-2 decision on court three. In singles, USC pieced together three straight-set wins to clinch victory. Riley Smith got the ball rolling in singles with a 6-1, 6-1 win on court four just before #119 Jack Jaede matched that score from his spot on court three. Coming through with the clincher was Laurens Verboven on a 6-1, 6-4 win at the No. 5 slot to make it a 4-0 USC advantage for the win. As the rest of the matches played out, Thibault Forget fell on court two for the Dons’ first point of the match, but #36 Logan Smith put things back in order with a 7-5, 2-6, 1-0 (10-6) win on court one to make it 5-1 Trojans. At the No. 6 spot, Jens Sweaney fought off match point to prevail in a 4-6, 7-6, 1-0 (10-7) comeback to wrap the first match of the day as a 6-1 USC victory. As darkness took over Los Angeles, USC and UC Davis played out the second match of the day under the lights of Marks Stadium. Again, USC’s double play picked up the early advantage. Freshman pairing Holt and Riley Smith nabbed a 6-1 win on court one for the #32-ranked duo, and then Crystal and David Laser paired up on court three for a 6-2 win that made it a 1-0 USC lead. Five straight USC singles wins would follow, as seniors Rob Bellamy and Nick Crystal both stepped into the lineup for wins. Bellamy registered the first, with a 6-1, 6-2 win on court five, and then Crystal followed from court two with a 6-2, 6-2 score that made it 3-0. Freshman #13 Holt came through next for the clincher on a 6-2, 6-2 win at the No. 1 spot, and USC’s win was in the books. Riley Smith would close out his winning day next, and the Forget avenged his earlier loss with a comeback on court three before the Aggies got a win on court six over USC’s Henry Ji.
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, and he now boast 24 singles wins to lead the Trojans to date. Behind Holt’s charge, there are now seven Trojans who have claimed double-digit singles victories so far this season. Rob Bellamy hit his 17th win last weekend, and Thibault Forget holds 16 singles wins so far. Next in line is Logan Smith with 12 wins, while Henry Ji and Riley Smith each hold 11 wins and Nick Crystal and Jack Jaede are locked up with 10 apiece. In doubles, USC’s winningest pair is currently the talented freshman duo of Brandon Holt and Riley Smith with 12 wins together to date.
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.
FIRST RANKINGS REPORT
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. 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 held his highest career rank, slotted at No. 28 in singles. Senior Nick Crystal weighed in at No. 88, and junior Thibault Forget ranked No. 114 to kick off the new year. In doubles, USC had 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 to open the 2017 campaign. •