No. 13 USC Men Shove Off For Stanford To Face No. 29 Cardinal|
Feb. 24, 2016
The No. 13 Trojans (6-2) have a road trip on tap this week as the Trojans pay a visit to No. 29 Stanford. The rematch of last year’s Pac-12 Tournament title match — which USC won in a tight 4-3 decision — is set for this Friday (Feb. 26) at 3 p.m. in Palo Alto. This will be a nonconference meeting between the two Pac-12 powers, with this year’s conference-counting faceoff coming in April in Los Angeles.
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. After a brief stint at the No. 6 spot, USC is currently tabbed at No. 13 in the most recent round of ITA national rankings (Feb. 23). The USC men — with Peter Smith at the helm — 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 latest set of individual rankings (Feb. 23). Freshman Logan Smith leads the pack now with a spot at #56. Senior Max de Vroome has bumped up to rank #65 in the land, with junior Nick Crystal next in line at #67. Freshman Jake DeVine now sits at #92 on the singles list. The USC men currently do not have any ranked doubles pairs.
The No. 29 Cardinal is 5-4 overall after a 4-3 loss to Cal last week. Stanford has six players nationally ranked in singles: #4 Tom Fawcett, #48 David Wilczynski, #88 Sameer Kumar, #102 Nolan Paige, #112 Michael Genender and #114 Maciek Romanowicz. In doubles, USF has #48 Paige/Romanowicz. USC is 111-77 all-time against the Cardinal after going 2-1 last season. USC beat Stanford 6-1 at home, lost 4-3 in Palo Alto and then won 4-3 in the Pac-12 Tournament championship match last year.
USC’s last competition had the Trojans across the country for action among the nation’s best at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Then ranked No. 6 in the nation, the Trojans were seeded No. 4 in the draw, lining up against No. 13-ranked South Florida in the opening Round of 16. After the Bulls claimed the doubles point and then worked ahead 2-0, USC got a spark with a big upset win from Max de Vroome over USF’s #26 Dominic Cotrone. Freshman Logan Smith would level the match with another straight-set win from court four. USC’s young talent pulled through once more after the Trojans got behind 3-2. Freshman Jake DeVine ground out a 7-5, 7-6 win at the No. 3 spot to set up sophomore Thibault Forget for a three-set clincher on a 7-6, 1-2, 6-2 Trojan victory that pushed USC to a 4-3 win and on to the quarterfinals. There, the Trojans would tangle with the No. 2 team in the nation, TCU. USC got a leg up in that one in winning the doubles point, but the Horned Frogs fired back in singles. Once again, the decision would come down to the last match going. This time, it was on court two where de Vroome was entrenched in a three-setter against TCU’s #122 Alex Rybakov. That one would go to a third-set tiebreaker, and Rybakov was able to dig in and claim the win for the Horned Frogs on a 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory over de Vroome. That put the Trojans in a consolation matchup against No. 10 Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons were ready for USC, snagging the double point and the firing off three singles wins to leave the Trojans with a 4-0 shutout loss and with back-to-back defeats for the first time since 2013.
BY THE NUMBERS
To date, there are three Trojans on the cusp of the 20-win club on the singles scene this season. Senior Mad de Vroome and freshman Logan Smith have each collected 19 singles wins so far, and sophomore Thibault Forget is on their heels with 18 wins. In doubles, USC’s winningest pairs is currently de Vroome and Jack Jaede with seven wins together.
EDGING OUT THE GATORS
USC was able to get in just one of its two matches on the schedule for this year’s Pac-12/SEC Showdown. The Trojans posted a 4-3 win over No. 20 Florida in Westwood on Jan. 30 but had their next match against No. 6 Georgia 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 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 moves back into a revamped and renovated home that is up-to-date and in line with the impressive accomplishments of both programs. The courts were open for action throughout construction, and a ribbon-cutting and dedication for the new facility was held on Feb. 16 to 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 welcomes 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 supports direct collaboration between coaches, staff and athletes on a daily basis. The teams also utilize and enjoy brand-new suites with lockers, showers, team meeting rooms and lounges. Both teams 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 have been added and a new elevator to the seating area has been 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. •