Trojans Face Florida At USTA/ITA National Team Championships
Feb. 19, 2003
This Week -- The No. 13 USC men's tennis team (6-2) travels to Louisville, Ky., for the 2003 USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships this week. The Trojans, seeded 11th in the tournament, face sixth-ranked Florida (6-1) in the first round on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 9 a.m. EST. The winner advances to the quarterfinal round to face either Duke or Texas on Friday, Feb. 21.
USC claimed the program's 16th national title in 2002. The Trojans did lose three seniors (Andrew Park, Ryan Moore and Nick Rainey), who made up the top of last year's lineup, but return NCAA Tournament MVP Prakash Amritraj and all-tournament selections Daniel Langre and Ruben Torres. This season, the three will also be aided by top transfer Johan Berg and redshirt returnees Parker Collins and Jeff Kazarian.
USTA/ITA Preview To NCAAs -- The USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships often serves as a sneak preview to the NCAA Tournament, featuring 16 of the top teams in the nation. On eight occasions, the team that won the USTA/ITA title went on to win the NCAA title in May. The event, which runs Thursday through Sunday (Feb. 20-23), began in 1973 and will be hosted by Kentucky in Louisville for the 17th time. The Trojans own a 19-5 all-time record at the tournament and won the event in 1987 and 1988.
Last Year At Indoor Championship -- In 2002 USC SMU, 4-1, in the opening round, then upset favored UCLA, 4-1, in the quarterfinals to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1993. The Trojans were eliminated by eventual-champion Stanford, 4-2.
ITA Ranking Updates -- USC jumped two spots to No. 13 when the team rankings were updated on Feb. 18. Sophomore John Berg ranked 75th in singles in the preseason poll.
USC vs. Florida -- USC is 2-1 all-time against Florida. The last time these two teams met was in 2000 when the Gators ended the Trojans' season with a 4-1 victory in the NCAA Round of 16. Following are USC's records against the rest of the tournament field (listed by seed):
(1) vs. UCLA - 77-85
(2) vs. Illinois - 3-1
(3) vs. Baylor - 1-1
(4) vs. Cal - 117-28
(5) vs. Mississippi - 2-1
(6) vs. Florida - 2-1
(7) vs. Stanford - 90-67
(8) vs. Duke - 3-0
(9) vs. Texas - 13-2
(10) vs. Kentucky - 4-2
(12) vs. Texas A&M - 2-0
(13) vs. Arkansas - 9-1
(14) vs. Georgia - 9-9
(15) vs. Harvard - 6-0
(16) vs. San Diego State - 11-0
Lucky No. 11 -- The Trojans enter this week's tournament seeded 11th in the 16-team field, just as they were seeded entering the 2002 NCAA Tournament. As the No. 11 seed in the 64-team NCAAs, USC went on to become the lowest seed to ever capture a men's tennis national title. The Trojans did so by upsetting No. 6 Baylor, No. 3 Illinois, No. 2 Tennessee and No. 1 Georgia for the championship.
Amritraj Untouched -- Sophomore Prakash Amritraj has proven that he belongs at the top of the lineup in only his second season. Last year's NCAA Tournament MVP made the jump from No. 3 to No. 1 this year and remains undefeated in dual matches (7-0), but has not gone unchallenged, recording upset victories over Pepperdine's No. 81 Diego Acuna and UCLA's No. 12 Tobias Clemens.
Coming Off Victories Over Pac-10 Foes -- USC is coming off two victories over Pac-10 foes Arizona and Arizona State. The Trojans won both matches by 6-1 scores, but neither counts against conference records. USC won two-of -three doubles matches for the first point against the Wildcats on Feb. 14, then clinched the victory with two-set singles wins at positions 3, 5 and 1. The Wildcats were held to only 12 points in all three singles matches. Prakash Amritraj secured the Trojan victory with a 6-4, 6-2 decision at center court over Arizona's No. 102 Whi Kim. Against the Sun Devils on Feb. 15, USC's doubles pairings proved successful for the second consecutive outing. The Trojans won two-of-three doubles matches to earn the first point of the afternoon. In singles, Johan Berg and Daniel Langre claimed the first two wins with two-set victories over ASU's Chris Stewart and Pim Van Mele. Ahead 3-0, USC's Ruben Torres defeated the Sun Devils' Oliver Charroin 6-3, 6-3 to secure the Trojan victory.
Amritraj/Langre Named ITA Doubles Team Of The Month -- Prakash Amritraj and Daniel Langre were named the ITA National Doubles Team of the Month of January. Amritraj, the 2002 NCAA Tournament MVP, and Langre, a 2002 NCAA All-Tournament honoree, finished 7-2 in the month of January. They captured a tournament title at the Sherwood Cup on Jan. 20 and notched wins over the No. 6 and 7-ranked teams in the country. The duo collected a 16-4 overall record last season and also earned 2002 NCAA All-Tournament honors at the No. 3 doubles position.
Get The Latest Info -- Updated team stats can always be found by logging on to www.usctrojans.com. They are located on the men's tennis page under 'Season Statistics.'
Head Coach Peter Smith In First Season -- Peter Smith, who guided the Pepperdine men's tennis team to conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances in each of his five years there, is in his first year at the helm of the USC men's tennis program. Smith's collegiate coaching career includes five years (1998-2002) at Pepperdine, six years at Fresno State (1992-1997) and four years at Long Beach State (1988-1991). He boasts a 276-137 (.668) overall record and has led his teams to nine NCAA appearances and seven top 20 finishes. Last season he earned his sixth conference Coach of the Year honor (WCC) and was named the ITA Region VIII Coach of the Year.