No. 5 USC Men Square Off With Stanford and Cal

April 2, 2008

THIS WEEK: USC digs deeper into Pac-10 play this week as two more conference teams come to visit. The Trojans (15-3, 2-0 Pac-10) first host Stanford in a 1:30 p.m. match on Friday (April 4) and then play California at 1 p.m. on Saturday (April 5) at Marks Stadium. Free food will be available at both matches for members of USC's 7th Man Club. If you haven't joined already, $5 will get you a T-shirt and food at both matches. Friday's match will have In-N-Out burgers and drinks, and Saturday's match will have food from SuperMex.

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC ranks No. 5 in the latest ITA rankings, released April 1. The latest individual rankings also came out on April 1, with Robert Farah at #7, Kaes Van't Hof up to #34, Gary Sacks at #53 and Jaak Poldma at #87. Farah/Van't Hof remain at #2 in the ITA doubles rankings, released April 2.

SCOUTING STANFORD: The Cardinal rank No. 25 and are 8-6 overall and 2-0 in Pac-10 play after beating ASU 7-0 and Arizona 5-2 last week. Stanford has four players ranked in singles -- #2 Alex Clayton, #67 Matt Bruch and #95 Richard Wire. USC is 96-74 all-time against Stanford after posting a 5-1 win over the Cardinal earlier this season in Palo Alto.

SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: The Bears rank No. 31 and are 10-7 overall and 2-0 in Pac-10 play after beating Arizona 5-2 and ASU 4-3 last week. California has #92 Kallim Stewart ranked in singles. USC is 124-33 all-time against California after posting a 4-2 win over the Bears earlier this season in Berkeley.

RECENT ACTION: USC made a strong run through the Pacific Northwest last weekend, grabbing 6-1 wins at Oregon and at No. 20 Washington. With No. 1 singles and doubles player Robert Farah out of the lineup with injury, the Trojans shuffled their ladder and still had solid success. Kaes Van't Hof took over at No. 1 for the first time and matched up with Andrew Piotrowski for No. 1 doubles and got wins across the board. Piotrowski stepped into the No. 6 slot and won both his singles matches as well, while Jaak Poldma moved up to No. 2 singles and Abdullah Magdas saw his first time at No. 4 for more USC victories on the weekend.

TOP-10 TAKEDOWN: During USC's Spring Break, the Trojans knocked off two top-10 teams while then ranked No. 9 in the nation. USC opened the trip with a 4-3 upset of then-No. 4 Texas before heading to the site of the 2008 NCAA Championships and grabbing a 6-1 win over then-No. 8 Tulsa. USC and Texas already had tangled once during the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February, when Texas claimed a 4-1 win over USC. This time, the Longhorns went ahead 2-0 before the Trojans answered with four straight singles wins to secure the victory. Gary Sacks secured the upset win for Troy with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 win at No. 4 over Luis Diaz Barriga. Two days later, USC dispatched another top-10 squad in beating Tulsa 6-1. The Trojans picked up the first two wins in doubles play to secure that opening point, then nabbed three straight singles matches to clinch victory. Securing victory for the Trojans was Abdullah Magdas out of the No. 6 slot, as he dispatched Ross Cunningham 7-6 (4), 6-4. Magdas' two straight-set victories during USC's upset road wins last week earned the junior his first career Pac-10 Player of the Week award.

ONE-TWO PUNCH: In the battles that rage at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles positions during dual match play, USC's top-two of sophomore Robert Farah and Kaes Van't Hof have held their own. Both have broken 10 wins in dual match action from their top slots in the ladder to help lead the Trojans. Farah is 25-9 overall in singles and 11-4 in dual matches, although injury took him out of the lineup last week. Van't Hof boasts a 20-8 overall mark and 14-4 record in dual match play and rides an eight-match win streak.

CLEANUP CREW: USC has had a powerful 4-5-6 lineup throughout much of the season, with six strong players rotating through those slots to combine for a 38-14 record at the three positions in dual match play. Gary Sacks has gone 5-2 at the No. 4 slot since Jaak Poldma went from his 5-0 run at the position to take over at the No. 3 slot in past matches. Jason McNaughton has spent the majority of his time at the No. 5 position, going 7-6, and Abdullah Magdas holds an 8-1 mark at the No. 6 spot. Stepping in at No. 6 for three dual matches apiece have been Daniel Gliner and Andrew Piotrowski, who are each 2-1 in that slot.

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 an 11-match win streak, the pair holds a 24-3 overall record together this season after a clean 11-0 run through dual match doubles play so far this season.

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.

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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