No. 5 USC Men Kick Off Pac-12 Action With Two Tests This Week|
March 28, 2017
The No. 5 Trojans turn to their first Pac-12 contests of the season this week. On Friday (March 31), USC (17-3, 0-0 Pac-12) will square off against No. 23 Oregon in a match to be televised on Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Oregon (14-2, 0-0) at 1:30 p.m. Brian Webber and Justin Gimelstob will be on the call, live from Marks Stadium that afternoon. The next day, USC takes on No. 32 Washington (11-4, 0-0) in a 1 p.m. conference clash on Saturday (April 1) at Marks Stadium.
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 28), USC is at No. 5 in the land after spending previous weeks at No. 8, 9, 12, 10, 14, 7 and 5. The latest individual rankings of 2017 (released March 21) 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 sits at No. 21 in the nation in singles. Sophomore Logan Smith is next in line, now slotted at No. 47 in singles. In doubles, USC’s freshman duo of Holt and Riley Smith sits at No. 20 in the nation. Junior Thibault Forget and Logan Smith are now paired up at No. 57.
The No. 23 Ducks are 14-2 overall and 0-0 in Pac-12 play after sweeping through the SP Invite in their last competition, beating San Diego State 4-0, Iowa 4-0 and Tulane 42. Oregon has #40 Thomas Laurent nationally ranked in singles. In doubles, Oregon has no teams in the national rankings. USC is 22-0 all-time against the Ducks after posting a 4-3 win when the teams met last season in Eugene.
The No. 32 Huskies enter the week at 11-4 overall and 0-0 in Pac-12 play after beating Hawai’i 6-1 and Fresno State 6-1 last week. UW has #89 Mitch Stewart nationally ranked in singles. In doubles, UW has no teams in the national rankings. USC is 27-5 all-time against the Huskies after taking a 4-3 loss when the teams met last season in Seattle. USC last beat UW with a 6-1 win in a Pac-12 clash in LA in 2015.
USC’s last competition came in a busy week that began with a victorious March 14 doubleheader at home and continued with a run to the title match at the BNP Paribas Open Collegiate Challenge out in Indian Wells. In a double dose of tennis at Marks Stadium on March 14, USC shut out Lehigh 7-0 with a 6-0, 6-1 clincher coming from Laurens Verboven on court four. USC’s second match of the day was a tight one, as the Trojans welcomed home former assistant coach Brett Masi, who is now at the helm of Texas Tech. Masi’s Red Raiders took the Trojans down to the wire, fighting out of a 3-0 hole to make it 3-2 before Jack Jaede stepped in and clinched it for USC with a 6-2, 7-4 (5) win on court four to register his 13th straight singles win. USC would finish up with a 4-3 win over Texas Tech, and soon set off for Indian Wells to take part in the BNP Paribas Open Collegiate Challenge. There, USC opened up in cruise control with a 4-0 win over No. 32 South Florida as the Trojans drummed up the doubles point and got singles wins from Brandon Holt, Riley Smith and then Logan Smith to clinch a quick victory. That put USC in the semifinals the next day against No. 9 Oklahoma, and again USC grabbed the doubles point. Riley Smith picked up the first singles win, but Oklahoma fired back with a win on court four. USC would regroup and net a 3-1 lead from Logan Smith on court three and then the clincher from senior Nick Crystal at the No. 2 spot to tally a 4-1 win that put USC in the title match. Up against No. 6 Baylor for the second time this season, USC looked to be in early control, getting up 3-0 on the Bears before the momentum shifted. Baylor snagged wins on courts two, one and five to level it up at 3-3, and then #35 Max Tchoutakian managed a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 comeback over USC’s #45 Logan Smith to clinch a 4-3 championship victory over the Trojans, avenging a 4-2 loss taken back in February at the ITA National Team Indoors.
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 was the first Trojan to be named Pac-12 Player of the Week after another winning week. USC leads the conference in all-time Pac-12 Player of the Week awards, having claimed its 49th on the men’s side with Holt’s selection on Feb. 27. In two tight 4-3 wins, Holt came through in the clutch with singles victories that gave USC a leg up in both matches. Against No. 33 Cal Poly, 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. Now ranked #21 in the nation in singles, Holt leads USC in singles and doubles wins this season. He’s currently 27-7 overall in singles and has paired with Riley Smith for a #20 national ranking in gathering a 19-4 record together to date.
The USC men’s tennis team’s hottest hand right now belongs to freshman Riley Smith, who has ridden a 10-match singles win streak to his first selection as Pac-12 Player of the Week, earned on March 20. Smith collected four singles wins and four doubles victories during a stretch of five matches last week, including a perfect singles run at the BNP Paribas Collegiate Cup in Indian Wells. Smith’s selection as Pac-12 Player of the Week makes him the second Trojan to win the award this season and brings the program its 50th all-time weekly honor from the conference on the men’s side — adding to the record count held by the Trojans. Smith’s winning week opened up with a hand in USC’s 7-0 sweep of Lehigh, as he and fellow freshman — and fellow Pac-12 Player of the Week honoree this year — Brandon Holt whipped up a 6-2 victory at the No. 1 doubles spot. Smith would not play singles in that one, but he’d step up as a crucial cog in the next four contests, winning all four of his singles matches to log either the first or second singles point in each match. In doubles, Smith and Holt took losses in the Texas Tech and Oklahoma matches, but came up with key wins against South Florida and Baylor to help the Trojans claim the doubles point. In singles, Smith continued his winning ways with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Jackson Cobb in USC’s 4-3 victory over Texas Tech at Marks Stadium. Out in Indian Wells, Smith captured a 6-0, 6-4 win over Pierre Luquet to anchor a 4-0 shutout of South Florida before snagging a 6-4, 6-3 win over Adrian Oetzbach in a 4-1 win over No. 9 Oklahoma. And in the championship match against No. 6 Baylor, Smith again reigned supreme on court six with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Constantin Frantzen to lock up the freshman’s 10th consecutive singles win. Smith is now 19-6 overall in singles play while he and Holt hold a 19-4 record together in doubles play this season.
BY THE NUMBERS
As dual match play continues to roll along, two Trojans now have broken ground on the 20-win club to date with several more closing the gap. Freshman Brandon Holt claimed his 20th singles win back in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend championship bout against San Diego, and he now boasts 28 singles wins to lead the Trojans to date. Freshly inked in the 20-win zone is junior Thibault Forget, who now holds a 20-12 singles mark. Behind that due, there are now six Trojans who have claimed 15 or more singles victories so far this season. Rob Bellamy and Riley Smith each have 19 wins to date. Smith is currently riding a 10-match win streak. Next in line is sophomore Logan Smith with 18 victories, followed by fellow sophomore Jack Jaede, who held a 13-match win streak and now grips 17 wins to date, USC’s winningest pair is currently the talented freshman duo of Brandon Holt and Riley Smith with 19 wins together to date. Right behind them in the win column is senior-sophomore combo pack of Nick Crystal and Laurens Verboven, who have claimed 16 wins.
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
This spring, the USC men are 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 were a reflection of that balance, as USC had 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, USC men’s tennis 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.
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 season, Trojan tennis enjoys its first full season in its revamped and renovated home that is now up-to-date and in line with the impressive accomplishments of both programs. The 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.