No. 9 USC Men Take On Top-10 Teams

March 19, 2008

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THIS WEEK: USC now heads off on a road trip that will first take the No. 9 Trojans (11-4) to No. 4 Texas (13-2) for a 4 p.m. CT match on Thursday (March 20), offering USC a chance to avenge a 4-1 loss to the Longhorns taken at the National Team Indoors earlier this season. The next stop for the Trojans is a visit to the upcoming home of the NCAA Championships with a match at No. 8 Tulsa (14-2) at 12 p.m. CT on Saturday (March 22).

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC has moved to rank No. 9 in the latest ITA rankings, released March 18. The latest individual rankings also came out on March 18, with Robert Farah up to #7, Kaes Van't Hof at #46 and Gary Sacks at #54. Farah/Van't Hof moved up again in the ITA doubles rankings, coming in at #2.

USC VS. TEXAS: The Longhorns rank No. 4 in the nation and are 13-2 after last beating Florida State 6-1 on March 8. Texas has four players ranked in singles -- #25 Kellen Damico, #38 Ed Corrie, #42 Dimitar Kutrovsky and #86 Luis Diaz Barriga -- and three ranked doubles teams -- #7 Diaz Barriga/Damico, #10 Damico/Corrie and #35 Diaz Barriga/Reyes Varela. After a 4-1 loss to then-No. 7 Texas during the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February, USC now is 14-4 all-time against the Longhorns.

USC VS. TULSA: The Golden Hurricane rank No. 8 in the nation and are 14-2 after winning the Blue/Gray National Collegiate Tennis Classic Title with a 4-0 win over Texas Tech in the finals. Tulsa has #18 Arnau Brugues ranked in singles, and two ranked doubles teams -- #19 Cunningham/Connelly and #36 Soriano/Brugues. USC is 2-0 all-time against Tulsa, last facing in 2004 when USC posted a 7-0 win in Tulsa.

RECENT ACTION: USC stayed strong on its home courts on Friday afternoon, cruising to a 7-0 win over visiting Duke to stand 8-0 at home this year. The Trojans conceded only one doubles match to the Blue Devils before streaking through singles play and getting the match-clincher from Jason McNaughton at the No. 5 position. Kaes Van't Hof finished things off with a comeback 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-3 victory over Dylan Arnould at No. 2 to close out the sweep for the Trojans.

ONE-TWO PUNCH: In the battles that rage at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles positions during dual match play, USC's full-time top-two of sophomore Robert Farah and Kaes Van't Hof have held their own. Both have hit 10 wins in dual match action from their top slots in the ladder to help lead the Trojans. Farah is now 24-8 overall in singles and 10-3 in dual matches while riding an eight-match win streak. Van't Hof boasts a 16-8 overall mark and 10-4 record in dual match play with a four-match win streak.

CLEANUP CREW: USC has had a powerful 4-5-6 lineup this season, with five strong players rotating through those slots to combine for a 29-10 record at the three positions in dual match play. Sophomore Gary Sacks has gone 3-2 at the No. 4 slot since freshman Jaak Poldma went from his 5-0 run at the position to take over at the No. 3 slot in past matches. Sophomore Jason McNaughton has spent the majority of his time at the No. 5 position, going 6-3, and junior Abdullah Magdas holds a 6-1 mark at the No. 6 spot.

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. Riding a nine-match win streak into this week's competition, the pair now holds a 22-3 overall record together this season after a clean 9-0 run through dual match doubles play so far this season.

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.

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