No. 14 USC Men Face No. 13 Rival UCLA In Crosstown Showdown|
March 7, 2017
The No. 14 Trojans will square off against No. 13-ranked crosstown rival UCLA on home turf this week. After a faceoff in Virginia last month, the Trojans (12-2) will now get to avenge a loss to the Bruins (8-3) taken on that crosscountry journey when the two teams tangle in a nonconference bout this Thursday (March 9) at 3 p.m. at Marks Stadium. The first 150 USC fans at the match will receive a free grilled cheese sandwich from the Grilled Cheese Truck.
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 (March 7), USC is at No. 14 in the land after spending previous weeks at No. 8, 9, 12 and 10. The latest individual rankings of 2017 (released March 7) has two Trojans ranked in singles and two ranked doubles teams. In this 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. 16 in the nation in singles. Sophomore Logan Smith is next in line, now slotted at No. 45 in singles. In doubles, USC’s freshman duo of Holt and Riley Smith sits at No. 19 in the nation. Junior Thibault Forget and Logan Smith are now paired up at No. 55.
The No. 13 Bruins are 8-3 overall after beating Stanford 4-2 in their last dual-match action. UCLA has two players nationally ranked in singles: #11 Gage Brymer and #41 Martin Redlicki. In doubles, UCLA has #26 Redlicki/Zhu. USC is 93-108 all-time against the Bruins after a 4-3 loss when the teams met last month in the Round of 16 at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va. Last year, UCLA claimed a 5-2 win and a 4-2 win over USC. The Trojans’ last wins over the Bruins came in 2015 with a season sweep of three wins — a 4-1 win at Marks Stadium, a 4-2 win in Westwood and a 4-1 win in the Pac-12 semifinals in Ojai.
In USC’s last dual-match action, the Trojans had two tight matches to battle through at Marks Stadium. USC lost the doubles point in both matches — the first dropped double points of the year for the Trojans — but rebounded in singles to claim 4-3 wins over both No. 33 Cal Poly and No. 35 Stanford. Fighting against both the Mustangs and the aggressive wind, USC lost on courts two and three to get in a 1-0 hole. USC would fight back to tie up the match 1-1 and then again at 2-2 before making a winning move. On court one, #27 Brandon Holt made it 3-2 for the Trojans with a 6-3, 6-4 win over #35 Ben Donovan. Jack Jaede then sealed the win for USC, continuing his own win streak on court four with an 11th consecutive singles win on a 6-4, 7-6 victory over Josh Ortlip. The next day in a nonconference clash with Stanford, the Cardinal took the early doubles point, but the Trojans managed to battle back in singles, winning the first three matches and taking the lead 3-1. The clincher came from Logan Smith on court three with a 7-6, 3-6, 6-1 win over Stanford’s Michael Genender. Those wins lifted the Trojans to a 12-2 overall record.
It was going to be a season of firsts no matter what for Brandon Holt, who has stepped into a key role for the Trojans as a freshman. Rightly so, Holt is the first Trojan to be named Pac-12 Player of the Week as he comes off yet another winning week for the USC men’s tennis team. USC leads the conference in all-time Pac-12 Player of the Week awards, having claimed 49 now on the men’s side with Holt’s selection on Feb. 27. In two tight 4-3 wins the previous week, Holt came through in the clutch with singles wins that gave USC a leg up in both matches. Against No. 33 Cal Poly on Thursday, Holt and fellow freshman Riley Smith scored a win over #35 Donovan/Pang in doubles on court one. In singles, Holt tallied a straight-set victory over #57 Ben Donovan — again on court one — to push his Trojans out to a 23-2 lead in an eventual 4-3 victory over the visiting Mustangs. The next day against No. 35 Stanford, Holt was on his game once again. This time, the freshman took down Stanford’s #12-ranked Tom Fawcett with another decisive straight-set win, beating the Cardinal’s top gun 6-4, 6-2 to get a 2-1 lead for USC in a match that the Trojans would finally wrap as another 4-3 victory. Ranked #27 in the nation in singles, Holt leads USC in singles and doubles wins this season. He’s 26-5 overall in singles and has paired with Riley Smith for a #29 national ranking in gathering a 15-3 record together to date.
BY THE NUMBERS
As dual match play develops, one Trojan has broken ground on the 20-win club to date with several more closing the gap. Freshman Brandon Holt claimed his 20th singles win in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend championship bout against San Diego, and he now boasts 26 singles wins to lead the Trojans to date. Behind Holt’s charge, there are now seven Trojans who have claimed 15 or more singles victories so far this season. Rob Bellamy has 18 wins to date, and Thibault Forget follows with 17 to his name. Next in line are two Trojans with 15 wins to date — sophomore Jack Jaede, who rides a 12-match win streak, and freshman Riley Smith, who has won six in a row. In doubles, USC’s winningest pair is currently the talented freshman duo of Brandon Holt and Riley Smith with 15 wins together to date.
In its ninth straight trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, USC wound up facing off against crosstown rival UCLA in the Round of 16 out in Charlottesville, Va. USC grabbed the opening point with a gutsy win in doubles, but the No. 7 Bruins were able to pull off a 4-3 win over the Trojans with a strong stand in singles. Relegated to consolation play from there, USC continued its success in doubles, and rang up a swift 5-0 win over Utah State the next day. In their final match at the event, the Trojans locked in on another doubles point and would hold off a tough No. 13 Baylor squad to wrap the trip with a 4-2 victory. The biggest winners on the weekend for USC were Jack Jaede, who collected three singles wins from his spot on court five, and the doubles pair of Nick Crystal and Laurens Verboven, who also drummed up three wins in three matches from court two.
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. •