No. 6 USC Men Back Home For More Pac-10 Play

April 1, 2009

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THIS WEEK: USC has strung together three straight dual match wins and takes a 2-0 start in Pac-10 play into the Trojans' return to Marks Stadium this week. No. 6 USC (15-4, 2-0 Pac-10) will first host No. 21 Washington in a 1:30 p.m. match on Friday (April 3) before facing Oregon at 1 p.m. on Saturday (April 4) in Pac-10 action.

ITA RANKING UPDATES: The latest ITA national team rankings have USC ranked No. 6 in the nation, as of March 31. Singles and doubles rankings also were released March 31, with Robert Farah ranked as the nation's #3 singles player. He is joined in the rankings by #67 Steve Johnson, #74 Jaak Poldma and #83 Abdullah Magdas. In doubles, Farah/Johnson are ranked #4.

SCOUTING WASHINGTON: Washington is ranked No. 21 in the nation and is 12-5 overall after beating Arizona 6-1 last week. USC is 20-4 all-time against the Huskies after a 6-1 win in Seattle last year. Washington has #40 Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and #113 Patrik Fischer nationally ranked in singles and #43 Patrik/Nedunchezhiyan ranked in doubles.

SCOUTING OREGON: Oregon is unranked and is 9-9 overall after losing to Arizona 7-0 and beating San Francisco 4-3 last week. USC is 14-0 all-time against Oregon after a 6-1 win in Eugene last season. The Ducks have no players nationally ranked in singles or doubles.

RECENT ACTION: USC opened up Pac-10 play with two wins last week, beating #43 Cal 6-1 and then upsetting #4 Stanford 4-3 on the road. USC powered its way past No. 43 host California in Berkeley. The Trojans swept doubles before piecing together a string of four straight singles wins to take a commanding lead in the match, getting the match-clincher from Matt Kecki at the No. 4 position. Against #4 Stanford, USC was again without top gun Robert Farah in the singles lineup. USC's doubles sweep proved priceless as it added a boost to singles wins from Daniel Nguyen, Jaak Poldma and made Abdullah Magdas' three-set win at No. 3 the match-clinching victory for the Trojans. The Cardinal became the fourth top-10 team taken down by the Trojans this season.

SENIOR SHINES: USC's lone senior Abdullah Magdas won in out in both doubles and singles for the Trojans last weekend as they opened Pac-10 play with two road wins. For his efforts, Magdas earns his second career selection as the Pac-10 Men's Tennis Player of the Week and the first by a Trojan this season. Magdas' biggest win of the weekend was his last match - a three-set battle at the No. 3 singles slot against Ryan Thacher that clinched a 4-3 upset win for #8 USC over host #4 Stanford. It wrapped up a winning weekend in which Magdas combined forces with Daniel Nguyen for doubles wins that helped ensure important doubles points for the Trojans in both matches. In singles, Magdas pounded out a straight-set win at the No. 3 position that got USC ahead 3-0 against the Bears. The next day, with the match against #4 Stanford hanging in the balance tied up 3-3, Magdas pulled off a three-set nailbiter, working ahead late in the match to clinch the last win for USC 7-6 (4), 6-7 (2), 7-5 and secure the upset win. Now ranked #83 in singles, Magdas has improved his singles record to 20-9 overall and is 10-3 in dual match play.

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 vs. UCLA. McNaughton actually leads the group in singles wins so far this season, holding a 26-12 record. Farah also is in the 20-win zone at 21-4, as is Magdas at 20-9.

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. 4 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 clock in at No. 46 behind second-ranked Farah/Johnson. Now, seasoned Trojans, Johnson, Kecki and Nguyen have all hit the 20-win mark in singles play. Johnson is now 23-9, with Kecki at 21-10 and Nguyen at 22-7.

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