No. 3 USC Men Host Crosstown Showdown with No. 5 UCLA On Friday

    The Trojans host the Bruins this Friday starting at 10:30 a.m. at Marks Stadium

    April 15, 2014

    USC Men's Tennis ReleaseGet Acrobat Reader

    The battle for the top spot in the conference goes up for grabs this week at Marks Stadium, with No. 3 host USC clashing with crosstown rival No. 5 UCLA in televised action on Friday (April 18). Doubles play will kick off a 10:30 a.m. before singles play and the Pac-12 Networks broadcast begins at 12 p.m. The Trojans (24-2, 6-0 Pac-12) and the Bruins (19-2, 6-0) have split in their previous matches this season to date. USC will bring a 15-match win streak into the showdown, dating back to its last bout with UCLA. Friday's outcome will determine the top seed for the coming Pac-12 Championships, to be held April 23-27 in Ojai, Calif. The match will be called by Pac-12 Network tennis announcers Brian Webber and Justin Gimelstob. WATCH LIVE ONLINE THROUGH PAC-12 NETWORKS


    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, shifted to No. 4 for a bit, and then took over as the nation's top-ranked team on March 25 -- the first time since the end of 2012 that the Trojans had been at No. 1. This week, USC sits at No. 3 in the land as of April 15. In the individual rankings (released April 15), senior Ray Sarmiento continues to lead the pack, ranked No. 9 in the nation in singles. He is joined on the national rankings list by five more Trojans -- No. 16 junior Yannick Hanfmann, No. 47 junior Jonny Wang, No. 53 Roberto Quiroz, No. 95 Max de Vroome and No. 120 Michael Grant. In doubles, Hanfmann/Sarmiento rank No. 2 in the land and Crystal/Grant are at No. 63.

    USC remained perfect in Pac-12 play with two road wins last week to bump up the Trojans' win streak to 15 in a row on victories over Arizona and Utah. The Wildcats couldn't keep pace with the streaking Trojans as they snagged a quick doubles advantage and rolled right along to a 5-0 victory. The Trojans rolled up a quick advantage by mirroring 8-2 wins on courts two and three in doubles play. Nick Crystal and Roberto Quiroz were the first to finish off their Wildcat foes on court two, and Michael Grant and Jonny Wang matched that tally at the No. 3 spot to secure a 1-0 lead for USC. Eric Johnson cruised to the first win of singles action as he finished off Will Kneale with a 6-1, 6-2 victory that notched a 2-0 advantage in the match. Freshman Nick Crystal would whip up the next one for the Trojans with a similarly speedy 6-3, 6-4 win on court four over Carlos Bermudez, providing a lift to a 3-0 lead. Next, it was #107 senior Michael Grant who slammed the door on another USC win. He plugged in a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Trevor James from the No. 6 spot to bring USC the 4-0 victory. On court one, however, USC's #53 Roberto Quiroz and Arizona's Naoki Takeda were just a breath away from finishing their match. Both players agreed to play it out, resulting in a 6-3, 6-1 finish in favor of Quiroz to wrap the day's action and tally the junior's 14th consecutive singles win. Two days later, USC kept its Pac-12 slate clean on a 4-1 win over No. 51 host Utah. The Trojans hauled in the doubles point before heading into singles action, where USC made a strong stand in securing three wins to punch up the road victory. USC's all-senior tandem of Grant and Ray Sarmiento drummed up the first win of the day with an 8-2 doubles victory on court three to start things off. At the No. 2 spot, Crystal/Quiroz got embroiled in a tiebreaker to decide their doubles clash, pulling off the win with a 7-2 decision in the breaker to pocket the 1-0 lead for the Trojans. The singles scene saw Eric Johnson pepper Cedric Willems with a 6-2, 6-1 win from court two to take the Trojans to a 2-0 advantage. Utah would crank up the pressure on USC from there when Silm Hanza was able to pull off a 6-0, 6-2 upset of USC's #7 Ray Sarmiento on court one, but the Trojans were quick to generate a response. #46 Jonny Wang dug in for a 6-2, 6-4 win over Matt Crowley at the No. 6 spot to pad USC's lead back to 3-1, and #53 Roberto Quiroz issued the final blow with a 6-2, 6-4 clincher over Ben Tasevac on court to to wrap up the action in Utah.

    The No. 5 Bruins enter the week 19-2 overall and 6-0 in Pac-12 play after beating Utah and Arizona both 4-0 last week. UCLA will face UC San Diego at home on Wednesday before taking on USC. UCLA has five players in the national singles rankings: #1 Clay Thompson, #5 Marcos Giron, #32 Mackenzie McDonald, #74 Gage Brymer and #94 Karue Sell. In doubles, UCLA has #16 Giron/McDonald and #58 Giron/Sell. USC is 89-104 all-time against UCLA in a series that dates back to 1929. The Trojans beat the Bruins 4-3 during this year's ITA National Team Indoor Championships and then took a 5-2 loss to UCLA in Westwood. Last season, USC went 1-3 against UCLA with a 4-3 loss during the Pac-12 regular season in Westwood and a 4-2 loss in the Pac-12 Tournament championship match in Ojai.

    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. Now ranked No. 53 in the nation in singles, Quiroz leads the Trojans to date with 27 singles wins, riding a 15-match win streak, while his dual-match singles count stands at a powerful 19-1.

    USC senior Ray Sarmiento had a winning Spring Break as the Trojans hit the road and picked up wins at Alabama and Ole Miss. For his singles and doubles sweeps in the victorious trip, Sarmiento has earned the March 25 honor as Pac-12 Player of the Week. Sarmiento combined with teammate Yannick Hanfmann for the clinching doubles win against the Crimson Tide before going on and securing the match with his 6-3, 6-3 singles win on court two. Two days later, Sarmiento had another victorious day in grabbing another doubles win with Hanfmann on court one and later taking the Trojans to a 3-0 lead in an eventual 5-2 win over Ole Miss with his 6-4, 6-1 victory at the No. 2 spot. This was Sarmiento's first Pac-12 Player of the Week win this season and the sixth of the senior's Trojan career. The nation's No. 7 singles player, Sarmiento holds a 19-8 overall singles record and a 13-6 mark in dual matches. He and Hanfmann rank No. 4 in the nation in doubles with a 12-1 record.

    To date, there are three Trojans in the 20-win club on the singles scene this season. Roberto Quiroz hit the mark first and now holds 27 singles wins in his junior campaign. Fellow junior Eric Johnson and sophomore Max de Vroome also have locked in the club with 25 and 22 wins, respectively. Junior Jonny Wang hit the mark last week to now hold a 20-7 record, while senior Ray Sarmiento is on the cusp with 19 wins. Johnson and doubles teammate de Vroome are the lone Trojan pair to hit the 20-win mark in doubles, holding a 22-8 record to date.

    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. Ranked No. 17 in the nation now in singles, Hanfmann is 17-5 overall in singles and 12-1 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. •