April 14, 2015
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THE LAST MEETING
March 14, 2015
No. 5 USC Unravels No. 14 UCLA With 4-1 Win At Marks Stadium
The No. 5 USC men's tennis team was resoundingly triumphant in its home battle against rival UCLA. Hosting the No. 14 Bruins in the first crosstown showdown of the season, the Trojans held their ground and stayed a step ahead of UCLA for a 4-1 victory today at Marks Stadium. After a stubborn stand in doubles play, USC got a spark in singles play from junior Max de Vroome's shutout on court six. UCLA would pull off a win on court two, but the Trojans remained anchored by the bottom half of the lineup as Nick Crystal snagged a straight-set win on court five before Jonny Wang clinched it all for the Trojans from court four. USC improves to 12-2 overall with today's win over UCLA.
The No. 9 USC men put the finishing touches on the regular season as they look to improve their standing in the Pac-12 to secure a strong seeding for the coming Pac-12 Tournament. The Trojans (19-4, 5-1 Pac-12) are currently tied at No. 2 in the standings alongside rival UCLA (14-7, 5-1), which they face this week in the regular-season finale. The winner is likely to capture the No. 2 seed in the postseason Pac-12 draw, as Stanford boasts wins over both the Trojans and the Bruins in conference play. The crosstown showdown this week will be held in Westwood, where No. 9 USC will battle No. 19 UCLA at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday (April 16). Singles play will begin at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised on Pac-12 Networks with Paul Sunderland and Justin Gimelstob on the call.
ITA RANKINGS UPDATES
The Trojans --- winners of five NCAA Championships in the past six years and the nation's leader with 21 total titles -- opened their 2015 campaign ranked No. 1 in the nation. USC was at No. 2 for one cycle after taking second at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, but bounced back to No. 1 on Feb. 24. The Trojans' upset loss to No. 51 Tulsa, dropped USC out of the top spot. After a loss to Stanford last weekend, USC is now No. 9 in the nation (as of April 14). Individually, USC remains stacked in the rankings department. Seniors Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz opened the year tabbed at #1 in doubles, and have since move to #3 in the latest set of individual rankings, also released April 14. Yannick Hanfmann remains USC's highest ranked singles player, weighing in at #12 in the nation as he continues his senior season. Fellow senior Roberto Quiroz is next in line, ranked at #25 in the nation in singles. Joining that pair in the singles rankings are #36 Jonny Wang, #81 Max de Vroome, and #90 Nick Crystal.
The No. 14 Bruins are 14-7 overall and 5-1 in Pac-12 play after losing to Stanford 4-3 and beating Cal 4-1 last week. UCLA has three players nationally ranked in singles: #3 Mackenzie McDonald, #32 Dennis Mkrtchian and #102 Martin Redlicki. In doubles, UCLA has #9 McDonald/Redlicki. USC is 91-105 all-time against the Bruins in a series dating back to 1929. The Trojans beat the Bruins 4-1 when the teams met at Marks Stadium last month. Last season, the Trojans and the Bruins split in their four faceoffs. USC won the first meeting 4-3 in the ITA National Indoor semifinal, lost 5-2 in a nonconference match in Westwood, won 4-2 in the Pac-12 regular-season clash at USC, and then fell 4-2 in the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament championship match.
USC took a road split last week in a journey through the Bay Area. The Trojans would beat No. 27 Cal 4-2 before stumbling to a streaking No. 36 Stanford squad 4-3. Against the Golden Bears in Berkeley, USC dropped the doubles point and the opening singles match to stumble behind, only to string up a set of wins -- the last three on three-set victories -- to steal away the match. Nick Crystal was the third to pull off a three-set win, marking the clincher for the Trojans in the 4-2 decision. The Bears bumped out to a lead with doubles wins on courts two and three -- decisive victories over the Trojans to build some key momentum for the hosts. That would carry through to singles, where #59 Andre Goransson managed a 6-4, 6-1 upset of USC's #6 Yannick Hanfmann on court one. The Bears would grip a 2-0 lead on that win, heaping pressure on the Trojans to find a solution. A lift came when #33 Jonny Wang zipped his way through to a straight-set win on court four. Wang registered a 6-4, 6-1 win to pin a point on the board for the Trojans, and his teammates would answer the call. It wouldn't be easy, but #75 Max de Vroome gutted out the first three-set win for the Trojans to pull them even. He posted a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 decision at the No. 5 spot. On court two, #19 Roberto Quiroz had fallen behind early, losing the first set before manufacturing a comeback. Quiroz would take the Trojans to a 3-2 advantage when he topped off his rallying cry for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory. Two more three-setters were going strong at the point, but it would be #86 Nick Crystal who hit the finish line first. His 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win on court six proved the decider. The next day on the farm, USC's misfortune in doubles continued as the Cardinal drummed up two solid wins at the No. 3 and No. 2 slots to take a 1-0 lead in the match. USC's #75 de Vroome would answer for his doubles loss with a powerful 6-4, 6-4 singles win to register USC's first point of the day, equalizing at 1-1. Stanford fired back as David Hsu issued a rare loss to USC's #86 Crystal on a 6-3, 6-4 decision on court six to move back ahead 2-1. Again the Trojans would pull even, this time on #33 Wang's 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 comeback effort at the No. 4 spot. That marked Wang's 12th consecutive singles win to keep the senior charging along in 2015 action for the Trojans. Now even 2-2, Stanford made another move. On court one, #41 Tom Fawcett was able to stake a comeback effort of his own in taking out Hanfmann on a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win that made it 3-2 Stanford. Another three-set battle saw USC draw equal once more. #123 Johnson made it a 3-3 lockup when he beat out David Wilczynski on court three with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win. That put the decider on court two, where USC's #19 Quiroz had traded tiebreakers in the first two sets with #100 John Morrissey. In the third, however, Morrissey got a leg up, and the Cardinal would hang on to tack up the clincher on a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 6-3 clincher that gave Stanford the 4-3 victory over the Trojans.
BY THE NUMBERS
USC has moved five players into the 20-win column in singles play so far, led by Nick Crystal, Max de Vroome and Jonny Wang's team-best 25 singles wins to date. Joining them in the club are Eric Johnson and Roberto Quiroz with 21 wins apiece. In doubles, USC's #3 pair of All-Americans Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz recently clocked in to join that pack, now holding a 20-5 overall record so far.
BEATING THE BRUINS
USC was resoundingly triumphant in its home battle against rival UCLA. Hosting the No. 14 Bruins in the first crosstown showdown of the season, the No. 5 Trojans held their ground and stayed a step ahead of UCLA for a 4-1 victory at Marks Stadium. After a stubborn stand in doubles play, USC got a spark in singles play from junior Max de Vroome's shutout on court six. UCLA would pull off a win on court two, but the Trojans remained anchored by the bottom half of the lineup as Nick Crystal snagged a straight-set win on court five before Jonny Wang clinched it all for the Trojans from court four, later earning himself his first career selection as the Pac-12 Player of the Week on March 16. The Trojans emerged victorious in a tight doubles battle, with court three's Trojan tandem of Crystal and Thibault Forget coming up big to clinch the point on a 6-3 win. USC's #4 senior pair of Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz had given USC a leg up from court one with a smooth 6-2 win over UCLA's #6 McDonald/Redlicki to register the first win of the day. On court two, UCLA managed a 6-3 victory over USC's #50 Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson to pull the doubles action even and put the clincher on court three. De Vroome's loss in doubles left the #50 junior unfazed as he gave up no ground to UCLA's Ryoto Tachi on court six, delivering a stifling 6-0, 6-0 sweep that promptly tacked a 2-0 lead to the scoreboard for the Trojans. On court two, however, a late break in the first set knocked USC's #20 Quiroz off balance, and UCLA's #3 Dennis Mkrtchian worked out ahead for a 6-4, 6-3 decision that cut the scoreline down to 2-1. On court five, though, USC's #51 sophomore Crystal had pulled off a late break of Bruin Gage Brymer in the first set and would dig in further and roll along to a 7-5, 6-2 victory to plug a 3-1 advantage on the board for the Trojans. That marked Crystal's 10th consecutive singles win, and it was a big lift for the Trojans. After trading breaks on court four, USC's #35 Wang wrapped up a win for himself and secured victory for the Trojans on his 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Karue Sell.
ITA INDOORS RECAP
Out in Chicago at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February, the top-seeded Trojans worked their way to the title match for the fourth straight season. Opening up against No. 22 Penn State in their Round of 16 match, the Trojans swept through to a 4-0 win to advance. That pushed USC into a quarterfinal clash against Ohio State, which had beaten the Trojans in last year's championship match. USC found revenge in this year's matchup. The clincher came from top gun Yannick Hanfmann for the second straight match, with the senior's win on court one wrapping up a 4-1 victory for the Trojans to advance. In the semis, USC tangled with No. 4 Georgia for the second time in two weeks, having silenced the Bulldogs in Athens to start the month. This time, Georgia was able to grab the doubles point, but the Trojans charged back with four singles wins, capped by the clincher from senior Roberto Quiroz for the 4-1 comeback. That earned the Trojans yet another championship rematch, pitting USC against Oklahoma for the first time since the Trojans beat the Sooners in last year's NCAA Championship. This time, the Sooners took a 2-0 lead on the Trojans before senior Eric Johnson continued his winning ways with yet another singles victory to cut the margin down to 2-1. Oklahoma got ahead 3-1 next before Nick Crystal pulled off a three-set comeback win on court six to keep USC within reach, only to see the Sooners get the clincher with a three-setter on court five to ring up a 4-2 victory over the Trojans. After the close of the event, USC landed several Trojans on the ITA National Indoor All-Tournament Team for their powerful efforts in Chicago. In singles, Yannick Hanfmann was named to the No. 1 spot, Eric Johnson picked up the No. 4 singles spot, and Nick Crystal earned his place at No. 6. In doubles, Max de Vroome and Eric Johnson were tabbed on the All-Tourney Team at No. 2 doubles.
USC senior Eric Johnson was instrumental in driving the USC men to a fourth straight trip to the final of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. He pinned up straight-set singles wins in the Round of 16, quarterfinal and semifinal to move USC into the title match. In doubles, he also was victorious alongside teammate Max de Vroome in the first two matches, while having his match suspended in the semifinal. He beat a ranked opponent in the quarterfinal round, topping #68 Ralf Steinbach of Ohio State to help USC win that match - a rematch of the 2014 ITA Indoors title match. In the final, Johnson was the only Trojan to win out in doubles and singles as USC fell 4-2 to No. 2 Oklahoma. The singles win marked Johnson's sixth straight victory and gave him an 8-1 mark in dual-match singles play. For his efforts, Johnson not only was named Pac-12 Player of the Week on Feb. 23 for the first time in his career, he earned multiple honors on the ITA National Team Indoor All-Tournament Team. He secured spots on team for his work at No. 4 singles and at No. 2 doubles with de Vroome. After another winning run at the BNP Paribas Collegiate Challenge, Johnson grabbed another pick as the Pac-12 Player of the Week on March 23. Johnson recently held a 12-match singles win streak and is now 21-8 overall with a 17-2 mark in dual matches.
ROBERTO RULES IN ATHENS
USC senior Roberto Quiroz secured his fifth career selection as the Pac-12 Player of the Week with a powerful performance in Athens, Ga., at the Pac-12/SEC Showdown. Quiroz was victorious across the board in USC's winning weekend. The senior whipped up doubles wins in both matches to help USC pocket the first point in both eventual Trojan wins. The momentum he gathered up in doubles would propel Quiroz to two quick straight-set victories in singles. Against Florida's #81 Elliott Orkin, Quiroz' 6-2, 7-5 win lifted USC to a 2-0 lead over the Gators, en route to a final 5-2 victory. The next day, Quiroz whipped up the first singles win for the Trojans once again. This one was a big one, as the #68 Quiroz upset Georgia's #15 Nathan Pasha with a 7-5, 6-2 win to again put USC ahead 2-0 on the way to a final 4-0 shutout of the Bulldogs from his court two spot. The USC men improved to 5-0 overall with that winning road trip. Currently ranked #25 nationally in singles, Quiroz is now 21-6 overall in singles play and is 13-4 in dual matches.
CRYSTAL SHINES THROUGH
Nick Crystal pinned up two powerful singles wins to help drive the Trojans through two sweeps of opponents at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Crystal also was victorious in his doubles match vs. Louisiana alongside Connor Farren to help spark USC in its opening win over the weekend and push him on to a selection as the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Jan. 26. It's the first career honor for Crystal, and he's the first Trojan to win the award this season. Crystal was the first to win his singles match on both days, taking USC to a 2-0 lead against #73 Louisiana and then also against #57 Santa Clara. Crystal stands as USC's winningest player to date this season, now ranked #90 in the nation in singles and holding a 25-5 overall record in singles play. After starting the dual-match campaign on a 10-match singles win streak, Crystal is currently 14-2 in dual matches.
2015 TROJANS AT A GLANCE
The Trojans enter 2015 looking to add to their growing collection of recent NCAA championships. USC's fifth title in the past six years netted the university its 100th all-time NCAA Championship last year. The 2015 Trojans are certainly up to the task of defending that crown, thanks in part to a set of five Trojans who opened the season in the national singles rankings as well as the top-ranked doubles team in the land. USC seniors Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz began 2015 as the nation's #1 pair, standing as the 2014 ITA National Indoor doubles champs and finalists at the ITA All-American in the fall. Both All-Americans, the seniors also appear on the singles list. Hanfmann reigns supreme as the highest ranking Trojan of them all, standing out at #3 in the nation. He reached the singles final at the ITA All-American and reached the quarterfinals at the ITA National Indoors. Next in line is another USC senior. Jonny Wang enjoys easily his highest post of his Trojan career, ranking #8 in the nation after a powerful fall campaign. Wang was a finalist at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships and reached the Round of 16 at the ITA All-American and ITA National Indoors. Sophomore Nick Crystal, meanwhile, stands at #58 in the nation. He reached the final of the USTA Clay Court Invitational and swept the titles at the Battle in the Bay in the fall. Senior Roberto Quiroz was limited in his action during the fall, and picks up a #68 ranking to start the spring, having reached the Round of 32 at the ITA All-American. Rounding out the USC rankings list is junior Max de Vroome -- clincher of the 2014 NCAA Championship victory. The junior reached the ITA Southwest Regional semifinals during the fall.
BREAKING GROUND ON NEW DIGS
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 will see its home revamped and renovated, bringing the venue up to date and in line with the impressive accomplishments of both programs. A ceremony to kickstart the renovation of Marks Stadium, which includes breaking ground on the Buntmann Family Tennis Center, was held on Tuesday (Feb. 24). Goals for this renovation are to elevate Marks Tennis Stadium to be on par with the best facilities in the country by creating an inviting, elegant, bright and safe training and competition environment. The Buntmann Family Tennis Center entrance and lobby will welcome 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 will support direct collaboration between coaches, staff and athletes on a daily basis. The teams will be able to utilize and enjoy brand-new suites with lockers, showers, team meeting rooms and lounges. Both teams will 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 will be added, a new elevator to the seating area will be 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 renovation is expected to be complete for Spring 2016.