No. 13 USC Men Look To Roll On Against Texas A&M and San Diego
Feb. 22, 2007
THIS WEEK: USC brings a seven-match winning streak into its last of eight straight home matches. The Trojans host No. 18 Texas A&M at 1 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 23) at Marks Stadium before hitting the road for the first time this year with a 12:30 p.m. match at No. 47 San Diego on Saturday (Feb. 24).
ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC has taken a good thirty steps forward in the ITA team rankings, jumping from a #43 start to the season to now rank #13 in the latest poll,released Feb. 21. The latest individual rankings of the season (as of Feb. 21) has Dejan Cvetkovic at #63 and Jamil Al-Agba at #71 in singles. Robert Farah/Kaes Van't Hof are ranked #24 in doubles. Texas A&M is ranked #18, and San Diego is #47.
RECENT RESULTS: The Trojans were out of action last week. Their last competition included a pair of 5-2 wins, first over #44 Fresno State and then against #18 Boise State at Marks Stadium on Feb. 9 and 10.
HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE: USC's home schedule this season is a good one. The Trojans open 2007 with eight straight home matches, and play four of their seven Pac-10-counting matches within the familiar spread of Marks Stadium. All told, USC has 15 of its 22 dual matches at home. USC has grabbed seven straight wins during that opening home stretch, marking the Trojans' best season start since 1998.
WINS OF CHANGE: After a frustrating 2006 season in which the Trojans failed to reach the NCAA Championships and suffered through nine tight 4-3 losses, USC has kicked 2007 off to a much stronger start with a heap of tallies in the win columns across the board. Every player boasts a singles record of at least .500. Freshman Jason McNaughton and junior Kaes Van't Hof lead the way with 15 wins apiece already, and senior Dejan Cvetkovic also has hit the 10-win mark as well in singles action. USC has dropped just six singles points during dual match play, and is 19-2 on the doubles scene in dual matches as well.
BATTLE-TESTED: In September 2006, head coach Peter Smith took his USC players to Camp Pendleton, to take on two days of basic training drills alongside the U.S. Marines. In addition to a commitment to conditioning, the Trojans took away a sense of teamwork and focus that Smith hopes to have translate into a winning season for his USC squad.
ON THE KAES: Junior Kaes Van't Hof improved his singles record to 15-3 last week and earned his first career Pac-10 Men's Tennis Player of the Week award. Van't Hof first clinched USC's 5-2 win over #44 Fresno State with a win from the No. 2 position over Mirko Zapletal 7-6 (6), 6-3. The next day, Van't Hof grabbed a 6-3, 6-2 win over #18 Boise State's Piotr Dilaf 6-3, 6-2 to help improve #15 USC's winning streak to seven straight. With a pair of doubles wins as well from the No. 2 slot, Van't Hof now holds a 6-0 dual match record and 8-1 overall record playing with teammate Robert Farah. The pair's sixth dual match win came in a comeback victory, where Farah/Van't Hof trailed 7-4 before fighting back to win 9-7 and clinch the doubles point against #18 Boise State.
BACK FOR MORE: Only one player is gone from USC's dual match ladder. Jamil Al-Agba, Dejan Cvetkovic and Kaes Van't Hof, who tag-teamed the top two singles slots throughout the year, all return, as do singles regulars Adam Loucks, Garrett Snyder and Chong Wang.
UP TO BAT: USC has six new players on its roster, three of whom will be active and three who will redshirt their first season at Troy. Tagged for duty in the Trojan lineup are freshmen Robert Farah, Jason McNaughton and Gary Sacks -- all proven winners coming into their USC careers.
ON SMITH'S WATCH: Peter Smith, the 2004 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, enters his fifth season as head coach of the Trojan men's tennis program. He has compiled a 327-178 (.948) career coaching record and is 57-43 (.570) at USC. After five years at Pepperdine, Smith came to Troy and extended his streak of sending teams to the NCAA Tournament to 12 consecutive seasons, as the Trojans reached the NCAA Second Round in his first season, the semifinals in 2004, and the second round again in 2005. Smith is the only head coach ever to lead four different programs to national top-25 rankings and the only coach to guide three different schools to the NCAA quarterfinals and top-5 national rankings (USC, Pepperdine and Fresno State). In 2004, Smith enjoyed one of the greatest seasons of his career, leading USC to the NCAA Semifinals and a No. 4 final ITA ranking. That year, USC went 23-4 overall and 6-1 in the Pac-10 to claim a share of the conference title -- USC's 14th title overall (first since 1994) and the seventh conference championship of his career.