Men's Tennis Faces UCSB, Pepperdine, UCLA This Week
Jan. 27, 2003
This Week -- Coming off a 7-0 victory over BYU and a 4-3 win over Fresno State to open the 2003 season on Jan. 25, the defending national champion USC men's tennis team (2-0) faces a busy schedule with three matches this week. The Trojans host UC Santa Barbara on Monday, Jan. 27, travel to #18 Pepperdine on Wednesday, Jan. 29, and return home to host crosstown rival #1 UCLA on Friday, Jan. 31.
USC claimed the program's 16th national title in 2002. The Trojans did lose three seniors (Andrew Park, Ryan Moore and Nick Rainey), who made up the top of last year's lineup, but return NCAA Tournament MVP Prakash Amritraj and all-tournament selections Daniel Langre and Ruben Torres. This season, the three will also be aided by top transfers Johan Berg and Brian Wright.
ITA Ranking Updates -- Released on Jan. 13, the preseason rankings have USC at No. 7 and sophomore John Berg ranked 75th in singles.
USC vs. UCSB -- The Gauchos have only managed to defeat USC once in the 74-year history of the series. The Trojans own a 22-1 record against UCSB and USC won the last meeting 7-0 to start the 2001 season.
USC vs. Pepperdine -- USC owns a 36-12 (.750) advantage in the Pepperdine series. The last time these teams faced each other was in 2000 when the Waves defeated the Trojans, 4-3, in Los Angeles.
Smith To Coach First Match Against Former Team -- Wednesday's match at Pepperdine will mark USC head coach Peter Smith's return to his former stomping grounds. Smith spent five years in Malibu before taking the position at USC last May.
USC vs. UCLA -- USC and UCLA have met a total of 162 times in their 74-year old history. The Bruins own an 85-77 series advantage and have defeated the Trojans in 19 of the last 23 meetings dating back to 1992. Last season, UCLA beat USC 7-0 in Westwood, USC upset UCLA in the following meeting 4-1 at the ITA Indoor Championships and UCLA took the third match-up 4-3 in Los Angeles.
Friday's meeting will not count against conference records.
Battle For The Lexus Gauntlet -- Friday's match against the Bruins will be the first of two meetings for the Lexus Gauntlet Challenge -- a season-long competition between USC and UCLA. Five total points will be awarded in men's tennis this season. This unique program awards points for the winner of each Bruin-Trojan head-to-head contest throughout the year and the Lexus Gauntlet trophy will be awarded to the school with the most points at year's end. USC won the inaugural trophy in 2002.
USC Beats Both BYU And Fresno State In Doubleheader -- USC opened the 2003 dual match season by beating both BYU, 7-0, and Fresno State, 4-3, in a doubleheader on Jan. 25. The Trojans started the day by sweeping the Cougars. USC won all three doubles matches for the first point, including an upset victory at center court as Prakash Amritraj and Daniel Langre defeated BYU's seventh-ranked Carlos Lozano and Erik Nyman, 9-7. The Trojans finished the match by winning all six singles matches in straight sets. Fresno State proved to be a bigger challenge for USC as the second match of the day. The Trojans again captured the doubles point with wins at all three courts for a 1-0 lead. USC grabbed a quick victory at No. 3 singles when Langre defeated the Bulldogs' Danny O'Rourke, 6-4, 6-3, to go ahead 2-0, but watched as Fresno State won at No. 5 and sent the four remaining matches into a third set. In the end, it was Ruben Torres who clinched the victory for the Trojans by defeating Alex Krohn, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, at court No. 4.
Langre, Amritraj Capture Sherwood Cup Doubles -- Daniel Langre and Prakash Amritraj upset No. 6-ranked Ryan Redondo and Oliver Maiberger of San Diego State, 8-4, to capture the Sherwood Collegiate Cup doubles title on Jan. 20. The win is the Trojans' first tournament championship of the 2002-03 season. En route to the championship, Langre and Amritraj also upset 39th-ranked Tobias Clemens and Lassi Ketola of UCLA in the semifinals, 8-5. The unranked pair was the only USC duo to advance past the first round of doubles play.
Langre and Amritraj are entering their second year of doubles play. Last season, the two helped USC capture the NCAA Championship by winning key matches against Tennessee and Georgia in the semifinals and finals. Both were named to the NCAA All-Tournament team.
Get The Latest Info -- Updated team stats can always be found by logging on to www.usctrojans.com. They are located on the men's tennis page under 'Season Statistics.'
Head Coach Peter Smith Enters First Season -- Peter Smith, who guided the Pepperdine men's tennis team to conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances in each of his five years there, is in his first year at the helm of the USC men's tennis program. Smith replaced Dick Leach, who retired in May after guiding the Trojans to four NCAA championships in his 23 years at USC. Smith's collegiate coaching career includes five years (1998-2002) at Pepperdine, six years at Fresno State (1992-1997) and four years at Long Beach State (1988-1991). He boasts a 272-135 (.668) overall record and has led his teams to nine NCAA appearances and seven top 20 finishes. Last season he earned his sixth conference Coach of the Year honor (WCC) and was named the ITA Region VIII Coach of the Year.