No. 6 USC Men Come Home For Two
Feb. 6, 2008
THIS WEEK: No. 6 USC brings home a five-game win streak as the undefeated Trojans host two nonconference opponents this week. USC (5-0) first faces #33 Clemson (5-3) in a 1:30 p.m. match on Friday (Feb. 8) at Marks Stadium, then turns to play #27 Boise State (5-1) at 1 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 10) also at Marks Stadium.
ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC ranks No. 6 in the latest ITA rankings, released Feb. 5. Preseason individual rankings (release Jan. 8) have sophomores Robert Farah ranked at #9 and Gary Sacks at #43. Farah/Van't Hof stand high in the ITA doubles rankings, coming in at #2. Clemson is at #33 in the latest rankings, and Boise State ranks #27. Opposing ranked players for the coming dual matches are: #61 Rok Bizjak (CLEM), #19 Clancy Shields (BSU), #47 Luke Shields (BSU), #65 Eric Roberson (BSU) and #69 Brent Werbeck (BSU).
USC VS. CLEMSON: The Tigers are 5-3 overall and ranked No. 33 in the latest ITA rankings after losing 4-3 to Tennessee and beating Austin Peay 7-0 last week. Clemson has one ranked player: #61 Rok Bizjak. USC is 12-3 all-time against Clemson, last facing in a 4-3 Clemson win in 2005.
USC VS. BOISE STATE: The Broncos are 5-1 overall and ranked No. 27 in the latest ITA rankings after having its five-match win streak snapped in a 4-3 loss to Texas A&M. Boise State has four ranked players: #19 Clancy Shields, #47 Luke Shields, #65 Eric Roberson and #69 Brenth Werbeck. USC is 3-0 all-time against Boise State after a 5-2 win last season.
RECENT ACTION: USC faced its first Pac-10 opponents of the year in dual match play last week, grabbing two road wins in matches played without doubles due to threatening weather conditions in the Bay Area. First USC pulled out a 4-2 win over Cal, thanks to a gutsy comeback win from Jaak Poldma who clinched the match from No. 4 singles with a 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 win. The next day, USC topped Stanford 5-1 in a series of straight-set wins that Gary Sacks wound up clinching in a win from his No. 3 singles slot.
CLEANUP CREW: USC has a powerful 4-5-6 lineup this season, with all three regular players in those singles slots are undefeated during dual match play. Freshman Jaak Poldma has a smooth 5-0 mark in dual matches; as do sophomore Jason McNaughton and junior Abdullah Magdas, who have lined up at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 through the majority of the season. They each take five-match win streaks into this week's competition
HOW THE WEST WAS WON: The USC doubles duo of Robert Farah / Kaes Van't Hof are ranked No. 2 in the nation after a powerful fall in which the Trojans captured the ITA West Regional doubles title. The pair holds a 16-3 overall record together this season after a clean 3-0 run through dual match doubles play so far this season.
FARAH'S FANTASTIC FALL: Sophomore Robert Farah put together a powerful fall season, recording a nine-match win streak that carried him into the final of the ITA All-American. He also reached the final of the Sherwood Collegiate Cup in January and now holds a 16-8 overall record on the season while holding down the No. 1 singles position for the Trojans.
TOP COACHES: Pac-10 Coach of the Year Peter Smith and his assistant Brett Masi earned regional honors for their roles in pushing USC back into the postseason with 2007's deep postseason run and a 22-3 overall finish. Smith was named the 2007 ITA West Region Coach of the Year, and Masi was the 2007 ITA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
ON SMITH'S WATCH: Peter Smith, the 2007 Pac-10 and ITA West Regional Coach of the Year, enters his sixth season as head coach of the Trojan men's tennis program. He has compiled a 350-181 (.659) career coaching record and is 80-46 (.635) at USC. After five years at Pepperdine, Smith became only the third head coach in Trojan tennis history 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. In 2006, USC missed the postseason with an 8-14 record, but in 2007, USC reemerged on the NCAA scene, racking up its best program start since 1987 with an 11-0 record on the way to a second-place finish in the Pac-10 (6-1) and a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals to finish 23-3 overall. It was the biggest turnaround in USC history, and the mark stands out as the fewest losses sustained since USC went 22-3 in 1994, when the Trojans won their 15th NCAA title. 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).
BACK FOR MORE: Four members of the Trojans' NCAA ladder are back for 2008. Headlined by ITA West Regional doubles champions Kaes Van't Hof and Robert Farah, the 2008 Trojans are deep, talented and young. Van't Hof -- who carried 77 career singles wins into the year -- is USC's only senior. Farah, a sophomore who held down the fort at the No. 4 singles slot the majority of his freshman season, also turned some heads in reaching the final of the Polo Ralph Lauren Men's All-American during the fall. Also racking up the wins in their first seasons at Troy were Jason McNaughton and Gary Sacks. Now sophomores, the pair garnered 57 singles wins as freshmen. McNaughton had 34 of those, boasting the most wins of all the 2007 Trojans. Sacks and his powerful serve anchored the No. 6 singles slot for a great deal of last season.
NEW TALENT: Seeing their first action as Trojans this season after sitting out in 2007 will be Jack Levis, Abdullah Magdas and Andrew Piotrowski. Levis redshirted last season, and Magdas and Piotrowski sat out due to NCAA requirements. All three have the experience and skill to inject even more talent into the 2007 Trojan gameplan, especially with the addition of three new freshmen to the lineup -- Daniel Gliner, Matt Manasse and Jaak Poldma.