No. 9 USC Men Return To Marks Stadium After Over A Month On The Road|
March 29, 2016
After over a month spent playing on the road, the No. 9 Trojans are back in town for the first time since February 9 as USC sets up to host a pair of Pac-12 teams this week. The Trojans (11-4, 1-1 Pac-12) line up against No. 16 California (10-3, 2-0) at 3 p.m. on Friday (April 1) before continuing their Pac-12 push with a matchup against No. 36 Stanford (10-6, 2-0) at 12 p.m. on Saturday (April 2) — all on the Trojans’ home courts at Marks Stadium.
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. 9 in the most recent round of ITA national rankings (March 29). 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 five players standing out in the latest set of individual rankings (March 22). Senior Max de Vroome is at the helm, ranked #25 in the land to boast his highest career singles ranking. He’s just ahead of #55 junior Nick Crystal and #58 freshman Logan Smith, while freshman Jake DeVine now ranks #109 in singles. USC also has one doubles in the latest rankings. Crystal and freshman Laurens Verboven now sit at #38 in the nation.
The No. 16 Golden Bears are 10-3 overall at 2-0 in Pac-12 play after beating Arizona 4-0 and topping Utah 4-3 last week. Cal has four players nationally ranked in singles: #17 Andre Goransson, #28 Florian Lakat, #40 Billy Griffith and #62 Oskar Wikberg. In doubles, Cal has #44 Bergevi /Lakat and #76 Goransson/Lakat. USC is 137-33 all-time against the Golden Bears after the Trojans posted a 4-2 win in Berkeley in the teams’ Pac-12 meeting last year.
The No. 36 Cardinal is 10-6 overall at 2-0 in Pac-12 play after beating Utah 4-2 and topping Arizona 4-1 last week. Stanford has four players nationally ranked in singles: #6 Tom Fawcett, #56 David Wilczynski, #101 Sameer Kumar and #110 Maciek Romanowicz. In doubles, Stanford has #64 Paige/Romanowicz. USC is 111-77 all-time against the Cardinal after going 2-1 last season. USC beat Stanford 6-1 in a nonconference match in Los Angeles before falling 4-3 in a Pac-12 meeting in Palo Alto. The teams would meet again in the Pac-12 Tournament championship match, which USC won 4-3 to take the 2015 conference crown.
USC wound up with a road split last week in its first journey into Pac-12 play, taking a 4-3 loss at Washington and edging out host Oregon 4-3. In a Friday evening match in Seattle, USC stumbled out of the gates in losing the doubles point. After that, USC sophomore Thibault Forget pinned up his 11th straight singles win to snarl the match at 1-1, but the Huskies hit a hot streak and secured the next three wins to clinch victory for the hosts. Washington’s Cal Hakak had a 6-3, 6-4 win over USC’s #58 sophomore Logan Smith lying in wait to take the Huskies back ahead 2-1. Next, Jake Douglas notched a 3-1 lead with his 7-5, 6-3 win over another USC freshman, #109 Jake DeVine on court three. That heaped pressure on the Trojans as the remaining matches extended into third sets. Before USC could fire back, the decider came on court six, where Washington’s Piers Foley managed a 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 comeback win over USC freshman Laurens Verboven to secure victory for the Huskies with a 4-1 lead. The Trojans would pull off the remaining matches in three-setters, but it was too late for a USC winning maneuver. At the No. 1 spot, USC’s #55 junior Nick Crystal manufactured a comeback win over #84 Mitch Stewart with a 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win to bring the score to 4-2, and then #25 Max de Vroome handed out another comeback effort with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over Enzo Sommer on court two to wrap the day’s action as a 4-3 score in the Huskies’ favor. On Easter Sunday in Eugene, USC dug deep and pulled out a 4-3 comeback win over No. 26 host Oregon, pinning up the Trojans first Pac-12 win of the season. Freshman Jake DeVine was the hero of the day in pulling of the clincher on a tense three-set victory that notched that all-important conference win in the books for the Trojans. The Ducks snagged the doubles point with wins on courts two and three to give Oregon a leg up in the match. That put pressure on the Trojans to regroup in singles play, and #25 senior Max de Vroome set the tone by equalizing things on his 6-2, 6-1 win over Thomas Laurent on court two. Oregon fired back, however. At the No. 4 spot, Jayson Amos replicated de Vroome’s score with a 6-2, 6-1 upset of USC’s #58 freshman Logan Smith to put the Ducks back ahead with a 2-1 advantage. The tug-of-war would continue. On court one, USC’s #55 Nick Crystal whipped up a smooth 6-1, 6-1 win over Oregon’s #94 Daan Maasland to snarl it up again. USC would take its first lead of the day when freshman Jack Jaede manufactured a 6-2, 6-4 win over Ethan Young-Smith on court six, tugging the Trojans to a 3-2 lead to get his team in position for victory. At the No. 5 spot, though, Oregon was able to squeak out a win to level it at 3-3. Oregon’s Cormac Clissold was able to hand out a rare loss to USC sophomore Thibault Forget, who was edged out in two tiebreakers to fall 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) on court five. That left #109 Jake DeVine’s match as the decider. His battle with Simon Stevens was the only three-setter of the day, thanks to DeVine’s gutsy effort in the second set to breathe new life into the Trojans’ hopes. Stevens had snagged the first set in a tight tiebreaker before DeVine forced the issue by taking the second. In the third, DeVine held his ground and finished off the win for the Trojans with his 7-6 (7), 5-7, 6-4 victory that made it a 4-3 USC win.
ITA NATIONAL TEAM INDOOR RECAP
Then ranked No. 6 in the nation, the Trojans were seeded No. 4 in the 2016 ITA National Team Indoor Championships draw in Charlottesville, Va., 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 four Trojans who have broken into the 20-win club on the singles scene this season. Sophomore Thibault Forget rode an 11-match singles win streak to stand alongside senior Max de Vroome with a team-high 24 singles wins so far. Freshmen Logan Smith and Jake DeVine have each collected 22 singles wins so. On the brink of entering the 20-win zone now is junior Nick Crystal with 19 wins to date. In doubles, USC’s winningest pair is currently Crystal and Laurens Verboven with 10 wins together. Meanwhile, the senior-freshman combo of de Vroome and Jack Jaede has claimed seven doubles wins as a team to date. In all, USC has utilized nine different doubles pairings during dual-match play to date.
THE MAX FACTOR
Senior Max de Vroome nabbed his second career selection as Pac-12 Player of the Week on March 14 after securing the first win of the day in doubles and then clinching the Trojans’ road win in singles, beating host #26 Tulsa in a shutout. In the tangle at Tulsa, de Vroome combined forces with freshman Jake DeVine in doubles and hammered out a 6-2 win from court two to help USC along to the doubles point. The #32 de Vroome showed no fear against Tulsa’s top gun #39 Or Ram-Harel on court one, grabbing the first set in a tiebreaker and then staying the course to a 7-6, 6-1 win that clinched the victory for the Trojans.
CRYSTAL SHINES AS PAC-12 PICK
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. •