No. 8 USC Men Team Up In Texas For NCAA Championships

May 12, 2009

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TEAM PLAY: USC has picked up the No. 8 seed into the 2009 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships and is back on track for a third straight trip through the Round of 16 with eyes focused on a winning run at this year's team competition in College Station, Texas. The Trojans topped UC Santa Barbara and Minnesota both 4-0 in the first two rounds of play to secure this week's journey to Texas. Now 21-5 overall, USC moves into a Round of 16 matchup against fellow Pac-10 power Stanford (20-5) in the NCAA Round of 16 at 12 p.m. CT on Thursday (May 14). The Trojans and the Cardinal have each claimed a 4-3 win over the other this season, although USC picked up the latest win during Pac-10 play. NCAA Men's Team Championships will run May 14-19 in College Station, with the individual competition following from May 20-25.

NCAA NOTES: This will be the USC men's third straight NCAA appearance and 31st overall. The Trojans have claimed 16 national championships all-time, with the last coming in 2002. USC's overall NCAA tournament record is 62-29 after making a trip to the 2008 NCAA Quarterfinals as a No. 6 seed in last year's action in Tulsa, Okla. USC currently holds a No. 8 national ranking in the latest Campbell/ITA rankings as the Trojans carried another 19-win record into this year's NCAA Championships. (Full NCAA team bracket attached in this release)

FOLLOW ALONG: The NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas, will have live scoring available online for all matches at the NCAA Tournament Central page.

SINGLES SCENE: USC has pushed two players into the NCAA Individual Championships, set to run May 20-25 in College Station. Robert Farah and Steve Johnson are all lined up in singles, and the two will also combine forces in doubles play. NCAA Singles and Doubles Championship competition will run May 20-25. USC's potent pair ride their singles success and doubles domination into spots in the action in College Station, Texas. It will be Farah's second straight trip to both NCAA brackets, as he was the No. 6 seed in singles and the No. 2 seed and eventual NCAA Doubles Champion with partner Kaes Van't Hof in 2008. Farah reached the singles Round of 16 last year. Now a junior, Farah ranks No. 8 in the nation for the No. 8 seed into this year's singles bracket is 27-6 overall in singles as he and the Trojans settle in for the NCAA Team Championships Round of 16. A freshman ranked No. 53 in the nation, Steve Johnson also has secured a spot in the NCAA Singles action. He recently reached the final of the Pac-10 Singles Championships and currently holds a 31-11 overall singles record on the way into his first NCAA Championships journey.

DYNAMIC DUO: While they battle it out on the singles courts in College Station, Farah and Johnson will also combine forces as 5-8 seed in the NCAA Doubles Championships. Farah/Johnson rank No. 4 in the nation and picked up the automatic bid out of the Pac-10 Conference for this year's NCAA competition. The duo holds a 31-9 overall record in doubles play on the season so far.

CAMPBELL/ITA RANKING UPDATES: The latest Campbell/ITA national team rankings have USC ranked No. 8 in the nation, as of April 28. Individually, the latest Campbell/ITA singles and doubles rankings also were posted April 28, with Robert Farah ranked as the nation's #8 singles player. Joining him in the national rankings are #53 Steve Johnson, #81 Jaak Poldma and #106 Abdullah Magdas. In doubles, Farah/Johnson are ranked #4 and Magdas/Daniel Nguyen rank #59.

TWO ROUNDS DOWN: USC captured 4-0 sweeps in its home stand to open the NCAA Team Tournament. The Trojans first topped UC Santa Barbara in the first round before beating #33 Minnesota in the second round at Marks Stadium to punch their ticket to College Station. In doubles, Farah/Johnson got wins in both matches, while Daniel Nguyen emerged in singles with back-to-back victories for the Trojans to help push them to the sweeps and carry the freshman to a six-match winning streak.

RECAPPING THE PAC: USC finished second in the Pac-10 to UCLA this year and sent a number of players through to the individual action at the Pac-10 Championships. Out of the five players lined up for the Pac-10 Singles Championship bracket, freshman Steve Johnson reached the singles final, while Robert Farah reached the singles semis and the doubles pair of Magdas/Nguyen also made a semifinal appearance in Ojai. On the Invitational side, Daniel Nguyen reigned supreme out of the three Trojans in that bracket, as Nguyen won the Invitational singles championship.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR: USC was awarded the No. 6 seed into the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championships, into which the Trojans carried a 19-4 overall record following another powerful regular season. USC picked up first- and second-round wins with 4-0 decisions over Southern and California to push on to Tulsa, where the Trojans beat Oklahoma State 4-2 in the Round of 16 before falling in a 4-2 loss to UCLA in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Individually, No. 6 seed Robert Farah reached the NCAA Singles Round of 16 and Kaes Van't Hof reached the Round of 32. In doubles, Farah and Van't Hof teamed up as the No. 2 seeded duo and powered their way to the 2008 NCAA Doubles Championship for USC's first NCAA doubles title since 1989. Farah/Van't Hof also were named the 2008 ITA Doubles Team of the Year.

TOP-TEN TAKEDOWNS: The Trojans have served up big wins against four top-10 teams so far this season. The first top-10 casualty was then-#9 Mississippi during the ITA National Indoor Championships. Two days later, USC took down #2 Texas 4-1. Since then, the Trojans have pinned up a 4-3 road win at #7 Baylor and a 4-3 upset of #4 host Stanford with top gun Robert Farah out of the lineup due to injury. USC has gone 4-3 against top-10 teams so far this year.

BACK ON THE ATTACK: USC junior Robert Farah returned to singles action after being sidelined for six straight matches, competing in his first Pac-10 singles match of the season on April 10 and earning his second career honor as Pac-10 Player of the Week. Although it had been almost a month since his last singles match for USC, Farah managed to follow up a doubles win with a third-set tiebreak win in singles. Farah had teamed back up with Steve Johnson for doubles to start the day in USC's match against No. 18 Arizona, and the Trojan pair clinched the doubles point for USC with an 8-6 win over Arizona's ranked pair at the No. 1 position. In singles, #3 Farah got back to form with his 22nd singles win of the year, outlasting Arizona's #68 Jay Goldman in the third set's 10-point tiebreak. Ranked #8 in the nation, Farah is now 27-6 overall and 13-3 in dual match singles play. In doubles with Johnson, Farah ranks #4 with a 31-9 overall record and 17-5 mark in dual matches.

SENIOR SHINES: USC's lone senior Abdullah Magdas won in out in both doubles and singles for the Trojans when they opened Pac-10 play with two road wins. For his efforts, Magdas earned 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 a three-set battle at the No. 3 singles slot against Ryan Thacher -- a victory 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 #106 in singles, Magdas has improved his singles record to 24-12 overall and is 13-5 in dual match play.

GREATNESS RETURNING: 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. Poldma, Magdas and McNaughton lined up just behind USC's 1-2 punch of Farah and Van't Hof last year, and once again Farah has been tabbed as the headliner on USC's ladder. Although sidelined by injury for several matches, Farah has been cruising through singles play this season and now is ranked #8 in the nation in singles. In the win count on the season so far, freshmen Steve Johnson and Daniel Nguyen lead the way with 31. Of the returners, McNaughton is highest in the 20-win zone with a 29-14 record, joined by Farah at 27-6 and Magdas at 24-12.

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 joined 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. Now seasoned Trojans, Pac-10 singles finalist Johnson, Kecki and Pac-10 Invitational Singles champ Nguyen have all hit the 20-win mark in singles play. Johnson and Nguyen lead the team with 31 wins apiece, and Kecki is one of the six Trojans to have hit the 20-win mark at 26-12.

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. Farah/Johnson hold a 31-9 overall record and are 17-5 in dual match play so far.

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