USC and UCLA Tennis Meet In Unprecedented Doubleheader

    Marks Stadium will see two huge rivalry matches come to Troy this Sunday starting at 12:30 p.m. See you there!
    April 12, 2016

    The USC and UCLA men’s and women’s tennis teams are set up for an unprecedented doubleheader at Marks Stadium this week. USC will host its crosstown rivals from UCLA on Sunday (April 17) at Marks Stadium. At 12:30 p.m. that day, the USC men and women start the day’s action with simultaneous doubles competition against the Bruins. At 1:30 p.m., the USC and UCLA men will get going in singles competition, followed by the USC and UCLA women’s singles action once the men’s match is complete. Pac-12 Networks will televise all the singles competition from Marks Stadium that day.
    All four teams are in contention for Pac-12 titles. On the men’s side, UCLA holds a 6-0 Pac-12 record, just ahead of USC at 5-1. For the women, USC is undefeated at 6-0 in conference play (three matches have been cancelled by rain) while the UCLA women are 6-2 (one match was cancelled by rain). 
    All four programs also are helmed by veteran coaches. At USC, Peter Smith (14th season at USC / 310-79) leads the men and Richard Gallien (21st season at USC / 378-148). For UCLA, Billy Martin (23rd season at UCLA / 517-110) is in charge of the Bruin men with Stella Sampras-Webster (20th season at UCLA / 382-141) at the helm of the UCLA women. That’s a grand total of 1,587 wins between the four coaches during their tenures at their respective current schools.
    • In 2014, the USC men and UCLA women both won NCAA Team Championships.
    • Men’s USC-UCLA all-time record:  USC - 93 wins | UCLA - 106 wins
    • Women’s USC-UCLA all-time record:  USC - 49 wins | UCLA - 44 wins
    • Last meetings:
    MEN — March 1, 2016: UCLA 5, USC 2 
    (Los Angeles Tennis Center)
    WOMEN — Feb. 25, 2016: UCLA 5, USC 2 
    (Los Angeles Tennis Center)
    • Latest team rankings (April 12):
    MEN — #4 UCLA | #9 USC 
    WOMEN — #21 USC | #23 UCLA
    USC MEN: 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 (April 12).  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 #19 in the land to take just one step down from his career-high singles ranking. He’s ahead of #43 junior Nick Crystal and #55 freshman Logan Smith. Freshman Jake DeVine now ranks #106 in singles, with sophomore Thibault Forget also on the list at #120 this week. USC also has Crystal and freshman Laurens Verboven now sitting at #42 in the nation in the doubles rankings.
    USC WOMEN: The Women of Troy — NCAA semifinalists in 2015 — started the new year right where they left off, as the No. 2 team in the land in the first team rankings of 2016. In the latest round of national rankings (April 12), USC stands as the No. 21 team in the land. In the latest set of individual rankings (April 12), USC has five Trojans locked in with singles rankings. Senior Giuliana Olmos continues to lead the way, now ranked #24 in the nation. She’s followed by a set of underclassmen — sophomore #99 Gabby Smith, freshman #117 Jessica Failla, freshman #121 Rianna Valdes and sophomore #123 Madison Westby. In doubles, USC boasts the #9 pair in the land in Olmos and Smith, while Zoë Katz and Westby now stand at #61.
    The No. 4 Bruin men are 18-2 overall and 6-0 in Pac-12 play after beating Arizona and Utah both 4-0 last week. UCLA has four players nationally ranked in singles: #8 Mackenzie McDonald, #45 Martin Redlicki, #58 Gage Brymer and #86 Karue Sell. In doubles, UCLA has #4 McDonald/Redlicki. USC is 93-106 all-time against the Bruins after a 5-2 loss at UCLA earlier this season. Last year, the Trojans beat the Bruins 4-2 during the Pac-12 regular season and then won 4-1 in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals en route to winning the 2015 conference tourney title.
    The No. 23 Bruins women are 14-5 overall and 6-2 in Pac-12 play after falling to ASU 4-3 and beating Arizona 5-2 last week. UCLA has #17 Catherine Harrison nationally ranked in singles. In doubles, UCLA has #6 Harrison/McPhillips. USC is 49-44 all-time against the Bruins after a 5-2 loss at UCLA earlier this season. Last year, the Women of Troy beat the Bruins 4-3 to claim the 2015 Pac-12 Championship.
    USC made a winning road run through Utah and Arizona last week, beating the Utes 4-1 and then shutting out the Wildcats 4-0. Against the Utes, the Trojans hauled in the doubles point and later strung together a set of singles wins to piece together the victory. USC pinned up the first point of the match on wins from courts one and two in doubles. Max De Vroome and Jack Jaede roped a 6-3 win at the No. 2 spot before Nick Crystal and Laurens Verboven sealed the deal on a 6-4 win at the top slot to make it a 1-0 USC advantage. The Utes would equalize things when Jamey Swiggart grabbed a 6-4, 6-0 win over Jack Jaede on court six, but the Trojans fired off a fast response. Fellow freshman Jake DeVine came through with the go-ahead point on a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Egbert Weverink on court four, and then another freshman — Logan Smith — finished off Utah’s Dan Little with a 6-1, 7-6 win at the No. 3 spot. That made it 3-1 to set up senior  Max De Vroome for the clincher. The #18 de Vroome topped Matt Crowley 7-6, 6-4 to bring the day’s action in Salt Lake City to a close with the 4-1 decision in the Trojans’ favor. Two days later in Tucson, USC waited out the weather and then wrapped up another road win with a 4-0 sweep of host Arizona. Due to rainy skies, the Trojans and the Wildcats opted out of doubles play and went straight to singles. There, USC strung up four straight-set victories to take the win. On court two, #32 Crystal was able to hit the finish line first, beating out the coming rain with a swift 6-2, 6-0 win over Will Kneale to make it a 1-0 USC advantage. Next, #94 Thibault Forget dug in his heels with a solid 6-2, 6-2 win over Oliver Plaskett on court five, setting up #53 Logan Smith to take the Trojans to a 3-0 lead with his 6-4, 6-1 win over Jason Jaruvang at the No. 3 spot. With three Trojans still going strong and gunning for the clincher, it would be senior #18 de Vroome who provided the finishing touch. From court one, de Vroome dished out a 6-4, 6-3 win over Arizona’s #89 Naomi Takeda, and USC had the 4-0 sweep through singles in the books. The remaining matches were suspended, and the Trojans would hit the road for their return trip home.
    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. 
    To date, there are four Trojans who have broken into the 20-win club on the singles scene this season. Senior Max De Vroome leads the pack with a team-high 28 singles wins so far, just ahead of sophomore Thibault Forget with 27, thanks in part to an 11-match win streak held by the sophomore during the season. Freshman Logan Smith has collected 26 wins, with fellow freshman Jake DeVine lining up next with 24. Freshly inked in the 20-win zone now is junior Nick Crystal with 22 wins to date. In doubles, USC’s winningest pair is currently Crystal and Laurens Verboven with 11 wins together. Meanwhile, the senior-freshman combo of de Vroome and Jack Jaede has claimed nine doubles wins as a team to date. In all, USC has utilized 10 different doubles pairings during dual-match play to date.
    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 5.
    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.
    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 JaedeLogan 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. 
    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. 
    USC The No. 24 USC women’s tennis team outlasted the elements and swept up an important 4-0 win over visiting No. 26 Arizona State today at Marks Stadium. After wins washed out play the previous day, the Trojans and the Sun Devils were able to play under sunny skies today, and USC was ready to make its move. The Women of Troy snagged a quick doubles point and then pressed on to victory with a string of singles wins. USC stood its ground in doubles in drumming up the first point of the match. At the No. 2 spot, USC’s #56 Zoë Katz and Madison Westby sprinted to a 6-1 win over ASU’s Krawczyk/Vlad for the early advantage. On courts one and three, meanwhile, both Trojan tandems wound up closing in on the clincher at the same rate. The deciding stroke would come from USC’s freshman duo on court three, though, as Jessica Failla and Rianna Valdes edged out their elder teammates by hitting the finish line first with a 6-3 win over ASU’s #65 Hampton/Jump. Meanwhile, USC’s #8 Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith were up 5-3 and 30-0 on #26 Osborne/Panoho at the top spot, but the win on court three wrapped the action and USC’s 1-0 lead was on the board to bring up singles. In singles action, USC junior Katz was a woman on a mission on court three, as she ripped through ASU’s Ebony Panoho with a 6-1, 6-1 for a quick 2-0 lead for her Trojans. The next to complete her match was #118 Westby on court two. The sophomore caught fire in her second set to leave ASU’s #83 Kassidy Jump far behind for a 6-4, 6-0 win that tacked a 3-0 USC lead on the scoreboard. Once again, USC had two courts closing in on the finish line at the same time. Once again, it was freshman Failla who managed to finish out her win first. The #113 Failla beat ASU’s Sammi Hampton 6-4, 6-3 on court five to provide the clincher on the 4-0 win -- just as USC’s #22 Olmos was making her move for a finish on court one. Failla’s win would suspend play on the remaining courts with Olmos and Smith both ahead in their matches, while Valdes was heading into a third set. 
    USC’s lone senior this season is the talented top gun Giuliana Olmos, the Trojans’ only ITA All-American on the roster and a true veteran for USC. Her list of accolades continues to grow. A 2014 Pac-12 Doubles Champion with then-senior Kaitlyn Christian, Olmos would also earn All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and reach the NCAA Singles and Doubles Rounds of 32 in her sophomore season. As a junior, Olmos won the ITA Southwest Regional Doubles Championship with partner Gabby Smith and went on to reach the Pac-12 singles semifinals, earned a place on the All-Pac-12 First Team and worked her way into the NCAA Singles Round of 32 as a 9-16 seed and to the NCAA Doubles Round of 16. Now a senior captain for the Women of Troy, Olmos continues to raise the bar as she’s stepped into the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles slots this season. Olmos opened the 2015-16 season with her highest career singles ranking at #10 in the land. Her highest career doubles rank was #4 in February 2014 alongside Zoë Scandalis.
    Senior Giuliana Olmos and junior Zoë Katz are the veterans on the Trojan roster this season, with three sophomores and two freshmen joining them for the bulk of the playing time in 2016. Sophomores Gabby SmithMadison Westby and Meredith Xepoleas got a lion’s share of experience as freshmen as they helped anchor USC’s run to a No. 1 ranking and a run to the NCAA Semifinals in 2015. This year, that trio of sophomores brings back their savvy in helping USC’s newcomers settle into the lineup. Freshmen Jessica Failla and Rianna Valdes are key components in the USC ladder, and both are ranked national singles rankings. 
    USC’s winningest Trojan in the singles realm this season so far is freshman Jessica Failla, who has claimed a team-best 19 singles wins to date. That has her just a step ahead of junior Zoë Katz’ 17 wins and senior Giuliana Olmos’ 16, while sophomore Gabby Smith weighs in with 15 in the win column. In doubles, USC’s winningest pair is the powerful #8-ranked Olmos and Smith, who have tacked up 13 wins together so far this season.
    USC had two Pac-12 road matches canceled by rain in March. USC’s March 11 matchup at No. 23 Stanford was the first to be rained out. On March 12, USC was in Berkeley to take on top-ranked California, but rain caused that match to be postponed until the next day. March 13 wasn’t much better, as the teams barely got started in doubles when rain halted the match. Both matches will be played as necessary in April in conjunction with the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, Calif. 
    Four years ago, USC women’s tennis decided it wanted to make a difference in the world. When then-junior Kaitlyn Christian’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, now-senior Giuliana Olmos was moved to find a way to help. Olmos and her teammates started the Rose Cup — named for Kaitlyn’s mother — to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Every fall since the event’s inception in 2012, USC student-athletes combine forces on the courts at Marks Stadium in support for the cause. Rose has since beaten her disease, and this season the Trojans dedicated their efforts in honor of Madison Westby’s aunt Pam, who is currently in her own fight with breast cancer. At the fourth annual edition of the Rose Cup — held in November 2015  — the $5,000 raised through the tournament, t-shirts sold and other donations went directly to Dr. Julie Lang’s research lab at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
    The 2015 Women of Troy had a banner season in earning their first #1 national ranking in over a decade and working their way to the NCAA Semifinals for the  second time in four seasons. USC’s 25-3 final overall record marked the most wins by the program since USC won the NCAA title in 1985 and the most wins in head coach Richard Gallien’s 20-year tenure with the program. The Trojans also went undefeated in Pac-12 play in 2015 to win another conference title, and worked its way to the top of the national rankings for the first time since 2003. USC also was seeded No. 1 in the 2015 NCAA draw — the Trojans’ 24th consecutive trip to the tournament — entering the tourney as the top seed for the first time since 1985, when USC last won a national championship. In all, it was an outstanding season for the Women of Troy, who were a balanced mix of veteran strength and freshman talent. For seniors Gabriella DeSimoneSabrina Santamaria and Zoë Scandalis, the year marked their second NCAA Semifinal appearance, having reached that round as freshmen in 2012. Santamaria and junior Giuliana Olmos both picked up ITA All-American honors at the close of the season. Scandalis would go on to earn high honors as a top-9 finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year awards. •