No. 2 USC Men Are Hosts Of 2013 ITA Kick-Off Weekend
The No. 2 USC men's tennis team opens its dual-match season as host of the 2013 ITA Kick-Off Weekend, featuring four teams vying for a spot at the upcoming ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Virginia. The Trojans take to their home courts for their season opener on Friday (Jan. 25) against No. 66 San Diego State at 1 p.m. at Marks Stadium. The first match of the day puts No. 69 Fresno State against No. 60 Georgia Tech in a 10 a.m. clash to determine who will advance to Saturday's consolation and championship matches. On Saturday (Jan. 26), the Friday losing teams will play at 3 p.m., followed by the championship match at 6 p.m. to determine who moves on to the ITA competition in Virginia next month.
ITA RANKING UPDATES
The USC men are slotted as the No. 2 team in the nation after the Trojans made history with four consecutive NCAA team championships. The No. 2 Trojans also boast more than a full lineup of Trojans on the ITA singles list. Seven Trojans made the cut, led by junior All-American Ray Sarmiento at No. 10. Sophomore All-American Roberto Quiroz is next in line at No. 24, followed by junior Emilio Gomez, who also had a very strong fall season in the singles realm. Sophomore Eric Johnson has earned his first career ranking at No. 61, joined by freshman Max de Vroome who stands at No. 78 entering his first spring as a Trojan. Sophomore Yannick Hanfmann, too, has a top-100 spot, as the clincher of the 2012 NCAA Championship holds down No. 84. Sophomore Jonny Wang makes it a trio of Trojans with their first-ever ITA rankings with his spot tied at No. 121.
SCOUTING SAN DIEGO STATE
The No. 66 Aztecs are 2-0 after opening 2013 with 7-0 sweeps of UC Riverside and UC San Diego last weekend. Andranik Khachatryan is ranked No. 123 in the nation in singles. USC is 34-3 all-time against San Diego State after a 7-0 sweep of the Aztecs last season at Marks Stadium.
SCOUTING FRESNO STATE
The No. 69 Bulldogs are 1-1 overall after opening 2013 with a 4-0 win over UC Riverside and falling 4-1 to Cal Poly last week. Fresno State has no players ranked nationally in singles or doubles. USC is 18-4 all-time against Fresno State with the last matches coming in 2010, when the Trojans beat the Bulldogs 4-0 during the ITA National Team Indoors Round of 16, and 4-1 in the NCAA Second Round at Marks Stadium.
SCOUTING GEORGIA TECH
The No. 60 Yellow Jackets are 2-0 after beating Old Dominion 5-2 and Lipscomb 4-3 last week. Georgia Tech boasts the No. 3 doubles team in the nation in Juan Spir and Vikram Hundal, with Spir and Eduardo Segura ranked No. 54 in doubles. Spir also ranks No. 32 in the nation in singles. USC is 2-0 all-time against Georgia Tech, last facing in the 2011 NCAA Round of 16, where USC posted a 4-0 win over the Yellow Jackets.
The winner of last year's Sherwood Collegiate Cup doubles championship, Ray Sarmiento added a singles title to his resume thanks to a series of wins over UCLA opponents in this 2013 edition of the individual tourney in Thousand Oaks, Calif, last weekend. Sarmiento raged through straight sets throughout his singles draw until the final, where the junior lost the first before making his comeback win to beat UCLA's Adrien Puget in the title match. USC also had a spot in the doubles final, but Trojans Emilio Gomez and Eric Johnson were upended in the final by third-seeded Bruin pair Giron/Novikov. The Trojans had eight players on the docket in singles and four doubles teams in the mix for USC's first competition of 2013. Four Trojan sophomores -- Sarmiento, Roberto Quiroz, Yannick Hanfmann and Eric Johnson -- reached the singles quarterfinals, but only Sarmiento emerged from that group as he set his course toward the championship. So, too did the Trojan pack four teams into the doubles quarterfinal round, with all but one notching wins to move into the semifinals. That set up an all-Trojan semi between Emilio Gomez /Johnson and Hanfmann/Sarmiento to guarantee a USC team in the final. Gomez/Johnson would advance to the title match to take on No. 3 seeded Bruins Gironv/Novikov, who had edged out Trojans De Vroome/Quiroz in their semifinal collision. Gomez/Johnson took the Bruins down to the wire, but fell 8-7 (4) in the doubles final.
A GOOD DAY ON CLAY
USC sophomore Roberto Quiroz showed his singles strength in the fall in cruising to the crown at the USTA Clay Court Invitational in Orlando, Fla., topping off his trip with a 6-1, 6-3 championship win over his opponent from Duke. He also reached the doubles semifinals with teammate Yannick Hanfmann. The Florida tournament consisted of several draws of singles and doubles competition. The Trojans had a strong group in the Gold Draw, led by eventual champ Robert Quiroz. Sophomore Yannick Hanfmann worked his way to the semifinals in the draw, falling to Quiroz' title match opponent Michael Redlicki. Freshman Max de Vroome and sophomore Jonny Wang fell in the first round. Quiroz and Hanfmann both opened their runs with straight-set victories. Quiroz would keep that streak alive as he rolled to the title, which Hanfmann was upended in the semis.
Trojan tennis reigned supreme at the Battle in the Bay Classic in San Francisco during the fall with a sweep of singles and doubles titles. The big winner in the Bay Area was USC sophomore Eric Johnson, who stormed to the singles crown with a dramatic three-set win over his freshman teammate Max de Vroome. Johnson also hoisted the doubles trophy with teammate Yannick Hanfmann after a successful run through the doubles draw. Fourth-seeded Eric Johnson posted straight-set wins in his first three matches en route to today's semifinals. There he dispatched a San Diego foe to take a spot in the singles final against teammate Max de Vroome. The two Trojans tangled through three sets before Johnson grabbed the third-set tiebreaker for a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 win that earned the sophomore the singles crown. De Vroome took the spot in the title match with another all-Trojan face-off in the semifinal, where the freshman faced sophomore Jonny Wang, who had also made a strong run through the singles draw. In doubles, Wang and de Vroome had paired up but taken an early tight loss in the first round. Their Trojan cohorts Johnson and Yannick Hanfmann, meanwhile, pinned up two powerful wins to move into the semifinals. There, sophomores Hanfmann and Johnson gutted out a 9-8 (1) win over a pair from Pacific to earn a place in the final. Hanfmann/Johnson went up against a duo from Stanford in the championship bout, taking out the Cardinal with an 8-4 decision to claim the title and spark an all-out winning day for sophomore Johnson.
In 2012, USC seniors Steve Johnson and Daniel Nguyen helped anchor the Trojans to a historic run of four consecutive NCAA championships. Johnson finished his Trojan career as arguably the most successful collegiate player in history, having claimed back-to-back NCAA Singles Championships and closing out 2012 on a 72-match singles winning streak. Led by head coach Peter Smith, the 2012 Trojans lost just one match during the regular season, rebounding strong to win the first Pac-12 Tournament Championship and rolling on to successfully defend its previous three NCAA titles, taking its fourth in a row to finish 33-1 overall on the year. Top-seeded USC won a heart-stopping championship match against No. 3 seed Virginia, with the clincher in the 4-3 win coming from freshman Yannick Hanfmann in a third-set tiebreaker. With the 2012 title, USC became the first team since Stanford's 1995-98 teams to win four consecutive national championships. At the end of the year, Johnson had earned his seventh career ITA All-American nods, joined by freshman Roberto Quiroz and sophomore Ray Sarmiento with All-American status in 2012.