No. 8 USC Men Pay Pac-12 Visits To Utah And Arizona|
April 5, 2016
The No. 8 Trojans have more road work ahead this week as they set up for another out-of-state journey. USC (13-4, 3-1 Pac-12) will first head to Salt Lake City to take on No. 72 Utah (16-7, 0-4) in a 4 p.m. MT matchup on Friday (April 8). From there, the Trojans will head to Tucson for a 1 p.m clash at Arizona (6-11, 0-5) on Sunday (April 10).
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 back at No. 8 in the most recent round of ITA national rankings (April 5). The USC men — with head coach Peter Smith in command — 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 (April 5). Senior Max De Vroome is at the helm, ranked #18 in the land to continue his climb to a new highest career singles ranking. He’s just ahead of #32 junior Nick Crystal — who also now holds the highest singles ranking of his career — and #53 freshman Logan Smith. Sophomore Thibault Forget is back on the list at #94 this week, while freshman Jake DeVine now ranks #105 in singles. USC also has two doubles in the latest rankings. Crystal and freshman Laurens Verboven now sit at #49 in the nation and de Vroome and freshman Jack Jaede at #89.
The No. 72 Utes are 16-7 overall and 0-4 in Pac-12 play after losing to Washington 4-3 and to Oregon 4-0 last week. Utah has no players nationally ranked in singles or doubles. USC is 30-1 all-time against the Utes after a 7-0 win in Los Angeles in the teams’ Pac-12 meeting last year.
The Wildcats are 6-11 overall and 0-5 in Pac-12 play after losing to Oregon 4-0 and to Washington 6-1 last week. Arizona has #89 Naoki Takeda nationally ranked in singles and no ranked doubles teams. USC is 98-2 all-time against the Wildcats after a 6-1 win in Los Angeles in the teams’ Pac-12 meeting last year.
USC had a victorious return to Marks Stadium last week. After over a on the on the road, the Trojans topped No. 16 California 4-2 and then beat No. 36 Stanford 6-1. USC was unable to pull out the doubles point in either match, but made up that lost ground in singles both times. USC and Cal would split first sets down the line in singles, but Thibault Forget stepped up first to right the ship for USC. The sophomore was all business on court five, catching fire for a 6-3, 6-1 win over Cal’s Oskar Wikberg to level the match at 1-1. Over at the No. 2 spot, junior Nick Crystal was also in complete control of his match. The #55 Crystal upended Cal’s #40 Billy Griffith with a decisive 6-2, 6-4 win, and the Trojans finally had worked into the lead, up 2-1 on the Golden Bears. Freshman Logan Smith was the next to finish things off in straight sets for the Trojan cause. On court three, the #58 Smith had a serious upset laying in wait for Cal’s #17 Andre Goransson. After snagging the first set, Smith shrugged off an early 0-2 deficit in the second, fought back from 3-4 down and then wrapped up a 6-4, 6-4 win that tugged the Trojans to a 3-1 lead. Cal wouldn’t go away easily, however. On court four, Cal’s Filip Bergevi got a lift in winning the first set in a tiebreaker. He’d get some space in the next set, and closed the match score down to 3-2 with a 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over USC’s #109 freshman Jake DeVine. That left two three-set matches hanging in the balance. Cal had snagged the first sets on courts one and six, with Trojans looking to make up lost ground to close in on the clincher. At the No. 6 spot, USC junior Rob Bellamy breathed new life into his match with an impressive tiebreak battle to claim the second set and bring up a third. Meanwhile, USC senior Max De Vroome was in full effect in his final set at the No. 1 slot. The #25 de Vroome surrendered only a single game in the third — and only two in the second — as he mounted an impressive comeback victory that would stand as the clincher. The senior topped Cal’s #28 Florian Lakat with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 victory that made it 4-2 Trojans for the win. The next day against Stanford, the Trojans would again regroup in singles. The momentum shift began when #109 freshman Jake DeVine ripped off a solid 6-1, 6-2 win over #101 Sameer Kumar on court four to snarl up the match at 1-1. On court one, USC’s #25 senior Max De Vroome stood his ground against Stanford’s #3 Tom Fawcett to nudge the Trojans into the lead, up 2-1 on de Vroome’s 6-3, 7-5 victory. In a heated battle on court five, USC freshman Jack Jaede fended off #110 Maciek Romanowicz. In a second-set tiebreaker, Jaede found himself in an early 0-4 hole against his Cardinal foe. But the freshman fought back to tie it up and take a 5-4 lead. He’d steal away Romanowicz’ set point at 6-7 and when he had match point within his reach he finished things off for a 6-4, 7-6 (7) decision that took the Trojans to a 3-1 advantage. The remaining matches were slogging away in three sets, with two Trojans needing to make up for lost first sets. At the No. 5 spot, Thibault Forget successfully turned the tide. After stumbling in the first set, he’d deliver a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 comeback clincher in beating Nolan Paige, and USC had the win in-hand with a 4-1 lead. The match would play on, and freshman Logan Smith had gotten his feet back under him after a slump in the second set. The #58 Smith would punch up a 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 win over Michael Genender on court three, and USC was gripping a 5-1 lead with one match still to wrap. An all-out battle on court two say USC’s #55 Nick Crystal entrenched in another tight set against #56 David Wilczynski. Crystal had clawed back from a 1-4 deficit in the second set to breathe new life into his match, taking the second to force the deciding third. Down 4-5 in the third, Crystal would fight off match point and stretch the match further. Crystal put his cramping legs out of his mind and forged a path to victory with two holds and a break to take the win from Wilczynski with a 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 victory. For his winning work last week, Max De Vroome was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second time this season.
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 26 singles wins so far. Freshman Logan Smith has collected 24 wins so far, with fellow freshman Jake DeVine lining up next with 23. Freshley inked in the 20-win zone now is junior Nick Crystal with 21 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 eight doubles wins as a team to date. In all, USC has utilized 10 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. The captain is now enjoying the highest singles ranking of his career, at #18 as of April 18.
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 co-captain has just upgraded his career best singles ranking, now at #32 in the land as of April 5.
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. •