No. 5 USC Men Open NCAA Defense At Home

May 11, 2010

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The defending NCAA champion USC men's tennis team has upgraded its seeding for this year's NCAA Men's Tennis Championships, weighing in at No. 5 and all set up to host the first two rounds of postseason play at Marks Stadium. The Trojans charged to the national championship last season as a No. 8 seed, and will begin defense of that crown when the No. 5 seeded USC (19-3) faces Marist (14-5) at 1 p.m. on Friday (May 14) in the afternoon. Also coming to town for the NCAA First and Second Rounds at Troy are Fresno State (18-9) and BYU (21-6), who will square off in the morning match at 10 a.m. on May 14. The Saturday (May 15) second round match at 1 p.m. will determine which team earns the right to advance to the NCAA Round of 16 and beyond, to be held in Athens, Ga., at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex from May 21-25.

This year's NCAA appearance is the Trojans' fourth straight trip to the postseason and 32nd overall. In winning the 2009 title in College Station, Texas, the Trojans have now claimed 17 national championships all-time and holds an overall NCAA tournament record of 68-29. With a 19-3 overall record so far this year, USC currently holds a No. 5 national ranking in the latest Campbell/ITA rankings as the 2010 Trojans tote a 19-win record into this year's NCAA Championships for the fourth consecutive season. USC is the automatic qualifier out of the Pac-10 Conference.

The NCAA First and Second Round matches this week at USC's Marks Stadium will have live scoring updates as well as live video available. CLICK HERE to access the live updates.

Marist (14-5) earned its automatic bid into the NCAA Championships by winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship for the third straight season. The Red Foxes enter NCAA play on an 11-match win streak and had five players earn All-MAAC First Team honors: Christian Coley, Nicolas Pisecky, Matt Himmelsbach, Landon Greene and Marcus von Nordheim. This is Marist's eighth NCAA appearance all-time, and this will be the first-ever meeting between USC and Marist.

BYU -- BYU is 21-6 overall and ranks #34 as a team with no players or doubles teams currently ranked in the nation. USC is 28-1 all-time against BYU, last facing in 2003 when the Trojans claimed a 7-0 win in Los Angeles.
FRESNO STATE -- Fresno State is 18-9 overall and ranks #28 as a team and has #23 de Villiers/Boutillier ranked in doubles. USC is 17-4 all-time against Fresno State after the Trojans beat the Bulldogs 4-0 at this year's ITA National Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va.

USC has two players set to perform on NCAA tennis' historic stage this month, with singles and doubles selections to the coming NCAA Individual Championships at Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga, from May 26-31. Pac-10 Doubles Champions Robert Farah and Steve Johnson will pull double duty with singles and doubles draws on tap. The 2010 Pac-10 Player of the Year and singles champion, Robert Farah already has an NCAA Doubles Championship (2008) and a NCAA Team Championship (2009) to his name. Now a senior, he is making his third trip to the NCAA Singles competition, with Round of 16 and First Round appearances in his previous journeys. He enters the 2010 NCAA Singles Championships ranked No. 9 in the nation and as a 9-16 seed into the tournament. He holds a 30-5 overall singles record with his eyes first focused on the Trojans' run at the 2010 NCAA Team Championships, in which USC aims to defend the 2009 NCAA crown it won last year in College Station, Texas. Now a sophomore, Steve Johnson also was instrumental in getting the Trojans that 2009 team title. In singles, Johnson was the nation's top-ranked player for several rankings cycles and currently ranks No. 3 in the nation. He's the No. 2 seed for the 2010 NCAA Singles showdown in Georgia and enters the postseason with a 26-4 overall singles record. As a freshman, Johnson also secured a spot in the NCAA singles action, reaching the 2010 NCAA Round of 16 in his first year as a Trojan.

Powerhouse doubles pair Robert Farah/Steve Johnson is ranked No. 2 in the nation and picked up the No. 3 seed for this year's NCAA run, as they hold a 25-3 overall record entering the NCAA team competition. Farah/Johnson also competed in the 2009 NCAA Doubles action and reached the Round of 16. This year, the Farah/Johnson doubles duo repeated as the Pac-10 Doubles Team of the Year after winning the 2010 Pac-10 Doubles Championship.

The latest Campbell/ITA national team rankings (released May 3) have defending NCAA champ USC still ranked No. 5 in the nation after the Trojans' first loss slipped them out of the No. 1 spot at which they opened the year. The latest individual rankings also were released May 3. There, Steve Johnson remains ranks #3 in singles. Senior Robert Farah also stays in the top-10, now at #9, with three other Trojans settled in the rankings: #83 Daniel Nguyen, #89 Jaak Poldma and #121 Peter Lucassen. In doubles, three Trojan teams are in the rankings. With #2 Farah/Johnson in the lead, also ranked are the pairings of #60 McNaughton/Nguyen and #73 Johnson/Nguyen.

USC 2009 NCAA title run began at home, with the Trojans beating UC Santa Barbara 4-0 and Minnesota 4-0 in the first two rounds before returning to the same site it had won its previous national championship in 2002 -- College Station, Texas. The No. 8-seeded Trojans opened with a tight 4-2 win over fellow Pac-10 power Stanford. USC went on to deal out a 4-0 sweep of top-seeded and undefeated Virginia in the quarterfinals. Next up was a 4-1 win over Texas in semifinal in front of a Longhorn-heavy crowd to move into the title match for the first time since 2002. Up against No. 3 seed Ohio State, the Trojans dug deep and got a match-clinching singles win from Robert Farah to notch a 4-1 victory and claim the 2009 NCAA Championship.

The USC men earned a share of the 2010 Pac-10 Championship with its 5-1 finish in the conference standings. Co-champs with Stanford, the Trojans staked their claim on the Pac-10's automatic qualification to the NCAA Tournament thanks to USC's win over Stanford in the teams' conference clash on April 2. USC's last Pac-10 title was picked up in 2008, when the Trojans wound up as the 2008 conference champions after an ineligible UCLA player turned two Bruin wins to forfeits in that year. That gave USC a 7-0 mark in 2008 Pac-10 action to take the title. Besides the 2008 championship, USC last won the Pac-10 crown in 2004 with a 6-1 finish to share the title. USC last won the Pac-10 title outright in 1994 with a 9-1 mark. In total, USC is in the Pac-10 history books with 30 team championships -- shared and solo combined -- with this 2010 title standing as the Trojans' 31st conference crown dating back to 1934.

It's been a team effort for the Trojans in working their way to within reach of the 2010 Pac-10 Championship. The USC men have claimed five Pac-10 Player of the Week awards so far this season, giving the Trojans the lead for all-time selections with a grand total of 15. This year, four different Trojans have won the weekly honor -- two for Daniel Nguyen and one apiece for Jaak Poldma, Steve Johnson and Jason McNaughton. This season's selections have been the first of each Trojans' career. McNaughton's selection is the latest to go on the USC tally after the senior came through with a powerful straight-set win over #7 Stanford's Greg Hirshman -- handing the Cardinal player his first loss of the season at the No. 6 singles position - to take USC ahead 3-1 as the remaining three matches all went into tense three-setters last week. His win also helped secure him a spot in the lineup for the following day against #17 California. There, McNaughton was slotted at No. 5, and the senior captured another win by handing a rare dual-match loss to Riki McLachlan to round out USC's 6-1 win over the Bears. In limited time this season due to early-season injury, McNaughton won five straight singles matches in Pac-10 play before taking a loss vs. UCLA.

Steve Johnson was ranked #1 from January until March 2 when he moved to #3 for one rankings cycle. During that stretch, the sophomore earned his first career Pac-10 Player of the Week honor, beating UCLA's Holden Seguso and Wake Forest's #20 Tripper Carleton. After doing so, Johnson moved back to #1 and remained there until April 13, displaced that week by Tennessee's JP Smith, whom Johnson beat in the fall. Now ranked #3, Johnson holds a seven-match winning streak for a 26-4 overall singles record and a 15-3 mark in dual-match play.

The No. 1 singles slot has been shared by Steve Johnson and Robert Farah to the tune of a 20-2 combined record in that position. Robert Farah holds court with a 13-1 mark on top, falling only in a three-setter to then-#5 Dimitar Kutrovsky of Texas. Now ranked #9 in the nation, the 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year and Pac-10 Singles Champion currently boasts an 11-match win streak for a 30-5 overall singles record with a 17-2 mark in dual-match play.

Daniel Nguyen built up a nice 15-match singles winning streak that carried him to the final of the Pac-10 Invitational Singles tournament. Along the way, Nguyen snagged his first career Pac-10 Player of the Week honors -- two of them -- after bigtime singles and doubles play in USC's first win over Stanford and then later after a powerful road trip through Duke and Georgia. Nguyen is now ranked #83 in the nation in singles and holds a 33-6 overall record and 16-1 mark in dual-match play. He leads the team in singles wins, just ahead of Robert Farah's 30 to date.

USC's fourth player with 20-plus wins this season, Jaak Poldma was the first to start the trend of Trojan Pac-10 Player of the Week honorees. At the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, Poldma tallied wins across the board, getting two singles and doubles wins and leading in both his suspended matches. Poldma stayed flawless in dual-match singles play from the No. 3 position, beating Kellen Damico of Texas and #118 Nick Meister of UCLA both in straight sets. Those singles wins put him on a six-match overall win streak. Poldma also stretched to a six-match win streak in doubles with Peter Lucassen with that weekend's success, including an 8-6 upset of UCLA's #36 Brooklyn/Stewart. Poldma now ranks #89 in singles with a 21-7 overall record in singles with a 14-4 mark in dual-match play. Poldma and Lucassen are 14-4 together in doubles -- all in dual-match action.

USC's doubles strength has been key this season. Although pairings have shuffled during dual-match play, the Trojans have won the doubles point in all but two matches this year. Those two lost doubles points both wound up as USC's only two losses to date -- vs. Texas and at Duke. With the majority of time at the top slot, the Pac-10 champs and #2-ranked duo of Robert Farah and Steve Johnson hold an 11-1 record at No. 1, where USC is 16-5 overall. Daniel Nguyen has been a power partner at the No. 2 slot, most recently teaming up with JT Sundling there for a 5-1 mark, and also pairing with Jason McNaughton for a 3-2 mark, and with Johnson for a 4-0 record. The No. 3 spot has been largely comprised of Peter Lucassen and Jaak Poldma, who opened the year with a 10-0 record in that position and are now 14-4 together in dual-match doubles.


Robert Farah • Pac-10 Player of the Year • Pac-10 Singles Champion • All-Pac-10 First Team
Robert Farah is the first-ever Pac-10 player to hold two Player of the Year awards along with more than one Doubles Team of the Year honors. He is also the first to go back-to-back as Pac-10 Player of the Year since Stanford's Sam Warburg did it in 2004 and 2005. Farah was an All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention recipient in his freshman season and has now picked up three straight All-Pac-10 First Team honors. Ranked No. 6 in the nation in singles, Farah is on an 11-match singles win streak after breaking through as the Pac-10 Singles Champion last weekend. He went 17-2 in dual match play with a 5-0 mark in Pac-10 action to currently hold a 30-5 overall singles record, playing largely at the No. 1 singles slot in dual matches for the Trojans. Farah is the sixth Trojan to be named Pac-10 Player of the Year, joining Wayne Black (1994), Brian MacPhie (1993), Scott Melville (1988), Rick Leach (1987) and Robert Van't Hof (1980).

Robert Farah & Steve Johnson • Pac-10 Doubles Team of the Year • Pac-10 Doubles Champions
This year the doubles pair of Robert Farah and Steve Johnson worked their way to the 2010 Pac-10 Doubles Championship and currently rank No. 4 in the nation as they win their second Pac-10 Doubles Team of the Year title together. The Farah/Johnson combination has plowed through 2010 opponents to the tune of a 12-match win streak. The pair went 11-1 in dual-match play - a perfect 5-0 in Pac-10 action -- and hold a 25-3 overall record as they set up for the Trojans' postseason push to defend their NCAA Team Championship. This season, Farah and Johnson also have combined forces to win the ITA Regional Doubles Championship, the Sherwood Collegiate Doubles Championship and the Pacific Coast Doubles Championship. Farah is the only player ever to win three Pac-10 Doubles Team of the Year awards.

Peter Smith • Pac-10 Coach of the Year
Reigning supreme as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Trojan head coach Peter Smith helped lead USC to its second Pac-10 title in the past three years. It's Smith's third career honor as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year, as he also won the selection in 2004 and 2007. This year, Smith has put the Trojans on a similar path of greatness, as his team entered the year ranked No. 1 in the nation as the defending national champions. Smith and the Trojans have remained ranked in the nation's top-5 throughout the year, currently holding a 19-3 overall record with a 5-1 finish in Pac-10 play to claim a share of the 2010 Pac-10 Championship.

Steve Johnson • All-Pac-10 First Team
Sophomore Steve Johnson's All-Pac-First Team selection this year also was as much due to his dominating singles play as to his efforts that pulled him to his second Pac-10 Doubles Team of the Year accolades. In singles, Johnson reigned as the nation's top-ranked player for most of the year. He's on a seven-match win streak, which includes a perfect 6-0 mark in Pac-10 play. He went 15-3 in dual match singles and holds a 26-4 overall record on the way into USC's NCAA push.

Daniel Nguyen • All-Pac-10 Second Team
Sophomore Daniel Nguyen has earned his first career All-Pac-10 selection with a place on the All-Pac-10 Second Team. Ranked No. 83 in the nation, Nguyen leads the Trojans in singles wins on the year, boasting a 33-6 overall record with a 16-1 mark in dual-match play and a perfect 6-0 run through Pac-10 action. He was twice selected the Pac-10 Player of the Week for his clutch play, which also extends to the doubles courts. Nguyen ranks No. 58 in the nation in doubles with Steve Johnson (6-0 overall), is No. 64 with Jason McNaughton (6-5) and is No. 78 with JT Sundling (10-4 overall).

Jaak Poldma • All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention
Earning repeat honors from the Pac-10 this year is junior Jaak Poldma, who has his third straight selection to an All-Pac-10 Team. A Second Team pick in his first two seasons, Poldma has earned All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention this year as he holds down the competitive No. 3 singles slot and is a fixture in doubles. Ranked No. 89 in the nation currently in singles, Poldma is 21-7 overall with a 14-4 dual-match mark, going 3-3 in Pac-10 play. On the doubles side, Poldma has played largely with Peter Lucassen, going 14-4 in dual-match action with a 14-5 overall record.

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