Men's Tennis Hosts Utah, Saturday

March 20, 2003

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This Week -- The No. 19 USC men's tennis team (9-5, 0-1 Pac-10) bounced back from its brief losing skid and looks to extended its current two-match win streak when it hosts unranked Utah (7-6) on Saturday, March 20, at 10 a.m. at Marks Tennis Stadium. The Trojans are coming off a 4-3 win over Pepperdine and 5-2 win over Princeton last week.

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 have also been aided by top transfer Johan Berg.

ITA Ranking Updates -- The Trojans dropped to 19th in the latest ITA poll released on March 19. In the individual singles rankings, Prakash Amritraj dropped to No. 45 and Johan Berg is ranked No. 71. Amritraj and Daniel Langre are ranked No. 8 in doubles.

USC vs. Utah -- USC is 25-1 all-time against Utah and Saturday's match will mark the 27th meeting between these two squads. The Trojans defeated the Utes last season, 7-0, in Los Angeles.

Last Week -- In the second match-up of the year, USC defeated No. 28 Pepperdine, 4-3, on March 14. The victory marked head coach Peter Smith's first win over his former team. The Waves earned the first point by winning two-of-three doubles matches at the No. 1 and 2 positions. The Trojans' Johan Berg and Jeff Kazarian prevented the doubles sweep with a 9-8 win at No. 3. USC quickly made up for the deficit in singles. The Trojans evened the score when Ruben Torres defeated Pepperdine's Scott Doerner, 6-4, 6-1, then took the lead as Jeff Kazarian swept Partha Bhattacharya, 6-0, 6-0. Parker Collins followed suit, beating the Waves' Alexis Rafidison at court five, 6-2, 6-4, and Prakash Amritraj clinched the match, beating Calle Hansen at center court, 6-3, 7-5.

In a match played on neutral territory, USC defeated Princeton, 5-2, March 16. The match was played at the Indian Wells Tennis Resort in Palm Springs, Calif., taking place prior to the men's and women's singles finals of the Pacific Life Open. USC swept all three doubles matches to earn the first point. In singles, USC withstood Princeton wins at the No. 5 and 6 positions by clinching victories at courts two, three and four to ensure the match victory with a 4-2 lead. With Prakash Amritraj sitting out singles, Johan Berg moved up to the No. 1 position and managed to defeat Princeton's Trevor Smith with a come-from-behind effort, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, for USC's final point.

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 279-140 (.666) 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.

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