No. 4 USC Men Play At Home Tuesday Before A Pac-12 Road Trip

    The Trojans set up for a three-match week, including two Pac-12 clashes.

    March 24, 2014

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    The No. 4 USC men's tennis team engages in a nonconference clash against San Diego State on Tuesday (March 25) before heading into its first Pac-12 competition of the year. The Trojans (17-2) host the Aztecs (8-8) at 2 p.m. on Tuesday (March 25) at Marks Stadium in an effort to keep USC's win streak rolling right along into the start of conference play. USC brings an eight-match win streak into Tuesday's matchup, in hopes of making it nine-in-a-row as the team hits the road. The Trojans will first visit Oregon for a 1:30 p.m. match on Friday (March 28) in Eugene before heading to Seattle to face Washington at 1 p.m. on Saturday (March 29).


    The Trojans -- winners of four consecutive NCAA Championships from 2009-2012 and the nation's leader with 20 total titles -- opened their 2014 campaign ranked No. 4 in the nation. After a runner-up finish at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, USC had moved up to stand at No. 2, but the Trojans now currently sit at No. 4 in the land as of March 18. In the individual rankings (released March 11), senior Ray Sarmiento continues to lead the pack, ranked No. 3 in the nation in singles. He is joined on the national rankings list by five more Trojans -- No. 11 junior Yannick Hanfmann, No. 46 junior Jonny Wang, No. 64 Roberto Quiroz, No. 96 Max de Vroome and No. 118 Michael Grant. In doubles, USC has Hanfmann/Sarmiento ranked No. 8 in the land and Crystal/Grant at No. 49. New team and individual rankings are due to be released on Tuesday (March 25).

    USC hit the road for Spring Break and returned with two more wins to give the Trojans an eight-match win streak. USC first visited No. 45 Alabama, shutting out the Crimson Tide 5-0. Two days later, the Trojans were in Mississippi, where they beat host Ole Miss 5-2 to improve to 17-2 overall on the year.

    The Aztecs are 8-8 overall after beating Denver 4-2 last week. As of March 11 rankings, SDSU has no players nationally ranked in singles or doubles. USC is a perfect 20-0 all-time against San Diego State in a series dating back to 1976. USC beat the Aztecs 4-0 last year in the first round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at Marks Stadium.

    The Ducks enter the week ranked No. 24 and with a 13-1 overall record after beating Drake 4-0 in their last match. Oregon will face Hawai'i this week before playing the Trojans. As of March 11 rankings, Oregon had #110 Robin Cambier ranked in singles. USC is a perfect 19-0 all-time against Oregon in a series dating back to 1972. Last year, the Trojans beat the Ducks 7-0 at Marks Stadium.

    The Huskies entered the week unranked and with an 8-7 overall record after losing 5-2 to Virginia Tech and beating Gonzaga 7-0 in their last matches. Washington will face UCLA on Friday before facing the Trojans. As of March 11 rankings, Oregon had #110 Robin Cambier ranked in singles. USC is a 25-4 all-time against Washington in a series dating back to 1963. Last year, the Trojans beat the Huskies 6-1 at Marks Stadium.

    On Feb. 14-17 in Houston, USC worked its way through to the title match of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships for the third straight season. The No. 3 seeded Trojans opened up with a 4-1 win over No. 14 Tennessee in the Round of 16 before taking down No. 6 Baylor in the quarterfinals. That set up an early clash against crosstown rival UCLA in the semifinals. The Trojans and the Bruins had met in last year's semi as well, and this season the Trojans replicated their efforts with another 4-3 victory over UCLA. Yannick Hanfmann held on for the clincher in that one, upsetting #5 Marcos Giron with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory that sealed the tight win for the Trojans and sent them into the title match for the third year in a row. There, USC was up against an upset-minded No. 5 seed Ohio State, which had upended top-seeded Virginia in the semifinals. The Buckeyes handed the Trojans their first loss of a double point on the year, and went on to post a 4-1 decision over USC to claim the title. USC junior Roberto Quiroz was the lone Trojan to come away from the tourney unscathed, having won two doubles and two singles matches during the action. For his winning efforts, Quiroz was named Pac-12 Player of the Week. He also earned spots on the ITA All-Tournament Team at No. 3 singles and at No. 2 doubles with freshman Connor Farren.

    Roberto Quiroz has emerged as USC's most decorated player this season. His fall was highlighted by another USTA Clay Court singles championship, which had been preceded by a run to the ITA Southwest Regional doubles final, where he and teammate Ray Sarmiento fell in the title match to fellow Trojans Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson. In the spring to date, Quiroz has picked up two sets of Pac-12 Player of the Week honors. And at a national level he holds spots on the ITA National Team Indoor Championships All-Tournament Team at No. 3 singles and at No. 2 doubles with partner Connor Farren. He and Eric Johnson lead the Trojans to date with 19 singles wins apiece, while his dual-match singles count stands at a powerful 11-1.

    USC seniors Ray Sarmiento and Michael Grant both boast spots in the national singles scene. Sarmiento weighs in at No. 3 in the nation, with his fellow senior Grant standing at No. 118. Grant has battled injuries, but has seen some strong court time this season as he holds a 13-5 overall singles record and a 6-1 mark in dual matches. Sarmiento leads the Trojans in the dual-match singles bracket with 13 wins to date, while holding an 18-5 overall singles record on the season.

    In the first edition of the Pac-12 SEC Showdown, USC served up a 4-0 takedown of No. 3 Georgia. After pulling off a tight doubles point, the Trojans rattled off three straight-set singles wins to wrap a quick victory over the visiting Bulldogs. Setting the winning tone for the Trojans was USC's top guns on the doubles courts, Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento. They more than held their ground against Georgia's #12 Pieters/Wagland and hustled to a 6-2 win on court one. The Bulldogs made it interesting by snagging the win on court three in a tiebreaker, as UGA's Diaz/Smith edged out USC's Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson. That set up the heroics on court two, where USC's new combo pack of freshman Connor Farren and junior Roberto Quiroz continued their winning ways. Up 5-4 on Georgia's Brasseaux/Pasha with Quiroz on the service line, the Trojans finished off the Bulldogs with one last blast at the net by Farren, and USC had the 6-4 win and the doubles point in hand. The feature presentation of the singles scene was set for court one, where USC's #10 senior Ray Sarmiento was up against Georgia's #12 Austin Smith. While that battle ensued, it was USC junior Jonny Wang who ripped his way to the first singles victory of the day. #67 Wang wrapped up USC's second point with a smooth 6-3, 6-1 win over Georgia's Hernus Pieters on court five. Meanwhile, at the No. 2 spot, USC's #34 junior Yannick Hanfmann was all business in his first set tiebreaker against UGA's #21 Nathan Pasha. The momentum Hanfmann gleaned from that tiebreak sweep carried him through to a strong second set, as he would tally a 3-0 lead for the Trojans with his 6-5 (0), 6-1 win. With the Trojans poised for the upset victory, Sarmiento buckled down in his clash with #12 Smith. The senior would lock in the W for USC on a 6-4, 6-4 win at the No. 1 spot to suspend action on the remaining courts.

    USC junior Yannick Hanfmann served up two singles upsets of higher ranked opponents and paired with teammate Ray Sarmiento for two more doubles wins - one over a #12 ranked pair - to help the Trojans two big wins over SEC opponents last weekend. For his heroic efforts, Hanfmann was been named Pac-12 Player of the Week on Feb. 4. It's the first such award for a Trojan this season and the fourth of Hanfmann's USC career. Hanfmann and the No. 4 Trojans kicked of the first edition of the Pac-12/SEC Showdown with an upset shutout of the nation's No. 3 team, Georgia. Unranked Hanfmann and Sarmiento took out #12 Pieters/Wagland of Georgia 6-2 for the first win of the day, and in singles #32 Hanfmann would notch another upset with a powerful 6-5 (0), 6-0 win over #21 Nathan Pasha on court two to speed the Trojans along to the 4-0 win over the Bulldogs. The next day, Hanfmann and Sarmiento secured the doubles point against Florida with another win on court one, and Hanfmann would make it a 3-0 lead on the Gators with another singles upset, beating #28 Stephen Piro in straight sets 6-5 (5), 6-2 on court two. Hanfmann is now 14-5 overall in singles and 10-1 in doubles with Sarmiento.

    USC junior Eric Johnson won both his singles matches and grabbed a doubles shutout win during USC's victorious run at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Johnson secured the Trojans' trip to the ITA National Indoor Championships with his clinching singles win against Wichita State, posting a 6-2, 6-2 win over Wichita State's Cuic to lock USC in with another shutout win to open 2014 team play. The previous day, Johnson had paired with Max de Vroome for a smooth 6-0 shutout in doubles against Santa Clara before tallying USC's first singles win of the day with his 6-1, 6-2 victory that helped spark the Trojans to a shutout in their spring season opener.

    In 2013, the Trojan men came up just short in their efforts to defend a string of four consecutive national championships, as USC was bumped out of the NCAA Tournament in the quarterfinals to finish the year at 26-5 overall and with a No. 5 national ranking. Only one member of that 2013 team has departed Troy, with Emilio Gomez having entered the pro ranks. The remaining Trojan contingent is a powerful crew, with six players already boasting at least one NCAA championship ring. The 2014 Trojans are led by senior All-American Ray Sarmiento, who starts up 2014 in the same place he began 2013 -- ranked No. 10 in the nation in singles. He is joined on the national rankings list by four more Trojans -- No. 32 junior Yannick Hanfmann, No. 67 junior Jonny Wang, No. 70 senior Michael Grant and No. 113 junior Roberto Quiroz. All five of those Trojans have been members of at least one NCAA championship squad. In all, USC boasts three ITA All-Americans on its 2014 roster in Hanfmann, Quiroz and Sarmiento. Also back in action for the USC men is junior Eric Johnson and sophomore Max de Vroome, while USC head coach Peter Smith has welcomed five newcomers to the roster in freshmen Rob Bellamy, Nick Crystal and David Laser, along with spring additions Connor Farren and Sander Brendmoe. •