No. 8 USC Men Take Bay Area Trip This Week

April 10, 2007

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THIS WEEK: No. 8 USC is on the road this week, having put the finishing touches on an undefeated home regular season last weekend. Now toting an 18-1 overall record, the Trojans continue Pac-10 play with a trip north, where USC first faces No. 42 Cal at 1:30 p.m. on Friday (April 13) and then plays at No. 50 Stanford at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC has taken near 40 steps forward in the ITA team rankings during this season, jumping from a #43 start to the season to hold its highest ranking at #4 for the week of March 13 -- USC's highest rank since the close of the 2004 season. The Trojans are now ranked #8 in the latest ITA team rankings (released April 10). The latest individual rankings of the season (as of April 3) has Dejan Cvetkovic at #44, Jamil Al-Agba at #45 and Kaes Van't Hof at #101 in singles. Robert Farah / Kaes Van't Hof have popped into the doubles rankings this week at #38, as have Dejan Cvetkovic / Gary Sacks at #58.

USC VS. CAL: USC is 122-33 all-time against the Golden Bears after beating them 7-0 in L.A. earlier this season. #42 Cal is 13-7 overall and 3-1 in Pac-10 play and has #27 Pierre Mouillon ranked in singles.

USC VS. STANFORD: USC is 93-74 all-time against the Cardinal after beating them 5-2 in L.A. earlier this season. #50 Stanford is 7-12 overall and 2-2 in Pac-10 play and has #74 Richard Wire ranked in singles and #27 Bruch/Muller ranked in doubles.

HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE: USC's home schedule this season was a good one. The Trojans opened 2007 with eight straight home matches, and played four of their seven Pac-10-counting matches within the familiar spread of Marks Stadium. By the end of the home stretch -- capped last weekend -- USC raged undefeated with a 15-0 regular-season mark at home. On the road, USC holds a 3-1 record with three more regular-season road matches to go.

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 kicked 2007 off to a much stronger start with a heap of tallies in the win columns across the board and an undefeated 11-0 record ¬-- the Trojans' best season start since 1988 -- until facing top-ranked Georgia on the road. Every player boasts a singles mark of at least .500. Junior Kaes Van't Hof leads the way with 26 wins already, with freshman Jason McNaughton next in line with 25. Nearing the 20-win mark on the year are seniors Jamil Al-Agba (17) and Dejan Cvetkovic (16), as well as freshman Gary Sacks (19). USC has dropped just 22 singles points during dual match play, and is 48-9 on the doubles scene in dual matches as well after two more sweeps last week.

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 translates into a long winning season for his USC squad.

ON THE KAES: Junior Kaes Van't Hof earned his first career Pac-10 Player of the Week award after clinching USC's 5-2 win over #44 Fresno State and then winning again at the No. 2 position against #18 Boise State on Feb. 10 to help improve USC's winning streak to seven straight. With a pair of doubles wins as well from the No. 2 slot, Van't Hof won his sixth straight match with teammate Robert Farah with a comeback victory, fighting back from 4-7 to win 9-7 and clinch the doubles point against #18 Boise State.

DEJAN GETS IT DONE: Senior Dejan Cvetkovic became the second Trojan to win a Pac-10 Player of the Week award this season after tacking up two more singles wins and remaining undefeated in doubles play with Jamil Al-Agba to help lift USC to its best season start since 1991. Cvetkovic secured the doubles point against Texas A&M with a tight 9-7 win to remain undefeated at the No. 1 slot with Al-Agba before winning his singles match to keep USC moving toward victory. Against San Diego, Cvetkovic had the clinching singles win, pulling out a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win. He now has won the honor twice in his career at Troy.

TAKE TWO: Kaes Van't Hof didn't leave much doubt about capturing a second Pac-10 Player of the Week award. After a doubles sweep and two three-set singles victories that both clinched dual match wins for the Trojans in a 4-3 win over #17 Rice and a 6-1 win over #6 UCLA on March 9, Van't Hof was the weekly winner once again. The wins put Van't Hof on a 10-match winning streak in singles play, holding him undefeated in dual match action, and secured an 11-match winning streak for the Trojans as a team.

SUDDEN IMPACT: Three USC freshmen -- Robert Farah, Jason McNaughton and Gary Sacks -- have jumped right into their roles at Troy, garnering big wins for the Trojans in 2007. Farah and McNaughton have been in the lineup for 18 of USC's 19 dual matches. Farah holds a 14-4 dual match record (15-5 overall), and McNaughton is 16-2 in dual matches (25-7 overall). Sacks has appeared in 14 dual matches and is currently on a 10-match winning tear as he's built a 13-1 dual match mark and a 19-5 overall record. Combined, the three freshmen have garnered a 43-6 record for USC in dual matches.

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 (.648) 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 men's tennis coach ever to lead four different men's programs to national top-25 rankings and is one of only two coaches 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.

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