No. 15 USC Men Stay Home, Host Fresno State And Boise State
Feb. 8, 2007
THIS WEEK: USC takes its five-match win streak into two more home contests, as #44 Fresno State and #18 Boise State come to Marks Stadium this weekend. The Trojans (5-0) take on the Bulldogs at 1 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 9) and then play Boise State at 1 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 10).
ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC took a good thirty steps forward in the ITA team rankings, jumping from #43 to rank #15 in the latest poll, released Feb. 6. The only individual rankings of the season (as of Jan. 9) has freshman Jason McNaughton at #91 in singles. Boise State is ranked #18, and Fresno State is #44.
RECENT RESULTS: The Trojans dealt out two upsets last week, topping #19 Stanford and then #18 California with another pair of decisive wins for USC. The 5-2 win over the Cardinal was USC's tightest match of the season by the numbers, but the Trojans actually had the match well in-hand, jumping to a 5-0 lead to secure the win before dropping two singles matches. In doubles, Farah/Van't Hof record a solid 8-1 win over Stanford's ranked pair of Morrissey/Muller to help jumpstart USC to victory in the match. Against the Bears, USC turned the tables on Cal -- avenging two 2006 losses with a clean 7-0 sweep, including Jamil Al-Agba's upset of #19 Pierre Mouillon with a 4-6, 6-2, (10-8) win at No. 1 singles.
USC VS. FRESNO STATE: USC is 15-4 all-time against the Bulldogs. The teams last faced in 2004, when USC posted a 5-2 win. USC has won the past five matches against Fresno State, last losing 4-3 in 2000. In the current ITA rankings, Fresno State has #26 Jakub Cech in singles. Before taking over at USC in 2003, current head coach Peter Smith spent six seasons coaching at Fresno State (1992-97).
USC VS. BOISE STATE: USC is 2-0 all-time against the Broncos. The teams last faced in 1998 at the ITA Team Championships, where USC posted a 4-3 win over Boise State. In the current ITA rankings, Boise State has #15 Luke Shields and #94 Clancy Shields in singles.
HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE: USC's home schedule this season is a good one. The Trojans open 2007 with eight straight home matches, and play four of their seven Pac-10-counting matches within the familiar spread of Marks Stadium. All told, USC has 15 of its 22 dual matches at home.
WINS OF CHANGE: After a frustrating 2006 season in which the Trojans failed to reach the NCAA Championships and suffered through nine tight 4-3 losses, USC has kicked 2007 off to a much stronger start with a heap of tallies in the win columns across the board. Every player boasts a singles record of at least .500. Freshman Jason McNaughton and junior Kaes Van't Hof lead the way with 13 wins apiece already, and senior Dejan Cvetkovic also has hit the 10-win mark as well in singles action. USC has dropped just two singles points during dual match play, and is 14-1 on the doubles scene in dual matches as well.
CAMPING OUT: In September 2006, head coach Peter Smith took his USC players to Camp Pendleton, to take on two days of basic training drills alongside the U.S. Marines. In addition to a commitment to conditioning, the Trojans took away a sense of teamwork and focus that Smith hopes to have translate into a winning season for his USC squad.
BACK FOR MORE: Only one player is gone from USC's dual match ladder. Jamil Al-Agba, Dejan Cvetkovic and Kaes Van't Hof, who tag-teamed the top two singles slots throughout the year, all return, as do singles regulars Adam Loucks, Garrett Snyder and Chong Wang.
UP TO BAT: USC has six new players on its roster, three of whom will be active and three who will redshirt their first season at Troy. Tagged for duty in the Trojan lineup are freshmen Robert Farah, Jason McNaughton and Gary Sacks -- all proven winners coming into their USC careers.
ON SMITH'S WATCH: Peter Smith, the 2004 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, enters his fifth season as head coach of the Trojan men's tennis program. He has compiled a 327-178 (.948) career coaching record and is 57-43 (.570) at USC. After five years at Pepperdine, Smith came to Troy and extended his streak of sending teams to the NCAA Tournament to 12 consecutive seasons, as the Trojans reached the NCAA Second Round in his first season, the semifinals in 2004, and the second round again in 2005. Smith is the only head coach ever to lead four different programs to national top-25 rankings and the only coach to guide three different schools to the NCAA quarterfinals and top-5 national rankings (USC, Pepperdine and Fresno State). In 2004, Smith enjoyed one of the greatest seasons of his career, leading USC to the NCAA Semifinals and a No. 4 final ITA ranking. That year, USC went 23-4 overall and 6-1 in the Pac-10 to claim a share of the conference title -- USC's 14th title overall (first since 1994) and the seventh conference championship of his career.