No. 8 USC Men Off To No. 43 Cal, No. 4 Stanford
March 25, 2009
THIS WEEK: USC heads into its first Pac-10-counting matches of the season this week with a road trip to the Bay Area. The No. 8 Trojans (13-4) have already faced upcoming opponents California and Stanford this season, but this week's dual matches will count toward the final Pac-10 records and standings. First, USC will go up against No. 43 California (8-5) in a 1:30 p.m. match on Friday (March 27) in Berkeley. Then, the Trojans take on No. 4 Stanford (13-1) at 1 p.m. on Saturday (March 28) in Palo Alto.
ITA RANKING UPDATES: The latest ITA national team rankings have USC ranked No. 8 in the nation, as of March 24. Singles and doubles rankings were released March 17, with Robert Farah ranked as the nation's #4 singles player. He is joined in the rankings by #75 Abdullah Magdas, #92 Steve Johnson and #101 Jaak Poldma. In doubles, Farah/Johnson are ranked #6.
SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: Cal is ranked No. 43 in the nation and is 8-5 overall after winning its past five matches. USC is 127-33 all-time against Cal after picking up a 7-0 win over the Bears earlier this season. California has #9 Chizever/Zerbini nationally ranked in doubles.
SCOUTING STANFORD: Stanford is ranked No. 4 in the nation and is 13-2 overall after suffering just its second loss of the season in a 4-3 defeat to No. 10 Baylor. USC is 97-75 all-time against the Cardinal after taking a 4-3 loss to Stanford last month at Marks Stadium. Stanford has #13 Alex Clayton, #53 Bradley Klahn and #113 Richard Wire nationally ranked in singles and #30 Muller/Wire ranked in doubles.
RECENT ACTION: USC came away with a road split in Texas. First edged 4-3 by #15 Texas A&M, USC rallied back two days later and upset #7 Baylor 4-3 in Waco. USC played without #4 Robert Farah in the singles lineup for both matches. Most of the Trojans also split their singles matches during the two-match week, aside from a sweep by freshman Daniel Nguyen at the No. 6 position. To get past Baylor on March 21, three USC freshmen got wins to power a comeback from down 0-3 in the match to a 3-3 tie with the Bears before senior Abdullah Magdas got the final win to push the Trojans to victory and a 13-4 record to kick off this week's Pac-10 matches.
BACK FOR MORE: Once again, USC has just one senior on its roster - team captain Abdullah Magdas - along with two strong juniors in Robert Farah and Jason McNaughton and sophomore standout Jaak Poldma. Those three Trojans lined up just behind USC's 1-2 punch of Farah and Van't Hof last year, and once again Farah is tabbed as the headliner on USC's ladder. He has been cruising through singles play this season, topping the charts at No. 1 although he had a 14-match win streak snapped last week vs. UCLA.
JUST ADD FARAH: Robert Farah may well be an X-factor for doubles success. With Kaes Van't Hof last season, the Trojan pair captured USC's 21st NCAA Doubles Championship. After Van't Hof's graduation, Farah has teamed up with freshman Steve Johnson to form a new team in similar winning form as the nation's now-No. 6 ranked doubles pair.
THE NEW CLASS: Trojan newcomers Steve Johnson, Matt Kecki, Andrew Kells and Daniel Nguyen all boast a laundry list of junior-level accolades along with championships and strong rankings. Ben Lankenau also joins the crew as a freshman this year, rounding out a formidable group of newcomers who have proven themselves impact players already. Johnson and Kecki both picked up spring singles rankings at No. 58 and No. 54, respectively. USC's young doubles guns also got spring rankings nods, as Kells and Nguyen clocked in at No. 46 behind second-ranked Farah/Johnson.