No. 6 USC Men Head To ITA National Indoors

Feb. 13, 2008

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THIS WEEK: Undefeated and ranked No. 6 in the nation, USC takes a seven-match win streak into a competitive stretch of play at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. The Trojans join 16 of the top teams in the nation at the tournament, which runs Feb. 14-17 in Seattle. USC picked up the No. 6 seed into the tourney and is lined up to open action against #11 Illinois in a 2:30 p.m. match on Thursday (Feb. 14). A win there would put the Trojans up against either No. 3 Ohio State or No. 14 Boise State in the quarterfinals the following day. Live scoring and results will be available throughout the tournament at itatennis.com. Full bracket is located on page 4 of this release.

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC remains ranked No. 6 in the latest ITA rankings, released Feb. 12. 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.

USC VS. ILLINOIS: Illinois is ranked No. 11 in the nation and is 3-2 on the year. The Fighting Illini are led by #15 Ryan Rowe and #70 Billy Heiser. USC is 3-3 all-time against Illinois, last facing in 2006 when Illinois posted a 6-1 win over the Trojans.

USC AT NATIONAL INDOORS: The Trojans have made 25 previous appearances at the prestigious ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships, winning titles in 1987 and 1988. USC is 49-35 overall at the tournament, and last competed in 2005.

RECENT ACTION: USC continued its winning start to 2008 with two more home wins to improve to 7-0 on the year. The Trojans first beat #33 Clemson 6-1, then topped #27 Boise State 5-2 at Marks Stadium. Against the Tigers, USC swept through doubles play, then went on to clinch the match early on Daniel Gliner's win at No. 6 singles. Teaming up for the first time for dual match doubles play was Jack Levis and Gary Sacks, who secured the doubles point for the Trojans with an 8-3 decision from the No. 3 position. The next day against the Broncos, USC's powerhouse doubles duo of Robert Farah / Kaes Van't Hof dispatched Koenke/L. Shields 8-5 at the No. 1 doubles slot and Levis/ Sacks won again with a tiebreaker win at the No. 2 position to grab the doubles point for the Trojans. Straight set decisions followed in singles, led by Jaak Poldma's 6-2, 6-1 win over Piotr Dilaj at No. 4, keeping Poldma's dual match singles record an untarnished 7-0. Kaes Van't Hof was next to cruise past his Boise State opponent, topping #19 Clancy Shields 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2 -- a feat that helped earn the senior his third career Pac-10 Player of the Week award. Van't Hof has now won five straight singles matches as well as all five doubles matches with Farah.

CLEANUP CREW: USC has a powerful 4-5-6 lineup this season, with the three regular players in those singles slots combining for an 18-1 record in dual match play. Freshman Jaak Poldma has a smooth 7-0 mark in dual matches, sophomore Jason McNaughton is 6-1, and junior Abdullah Magdas is 5-0, teaming up as the lineup at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 through the majority of the season.

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 18-3 overall record together this season after a clean 5-0 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 an 18-8 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).

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