No. 6 USC Takes Bay Area Road Trip

Jan. 30, 2008

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THIS WEEK: USC faces its first Pac-10 opponents as a team this weekend, as the Trojans head north to face Cal and Stanford. #6 USC (3-0) first visits #26 Cal (3-1) for a 1:30 p.m. dual match in Berkeley on Friday (Feb. 1). The Trojans then head to #42 Stanford (0-2) for a 1 p.m. match on Saturday (Feb. 2) in Palo Alto.

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC ranks No. 6 in the latest ITA rankings, released Jan. 29. Preseason individual rankings (release Jan. 8) have sophomores Robert Farah ranked at #9 and Gary Sacks at #43. Farah/Van't Hof stand high in the ITA doubles rankings, coming in at #2. California is at #26 in the latest rankings, and Stanford ranks #42. Opposing ranked players for the coming dual matches are: #2 Alex Clayton (STAN), #41 Ted Kelly (STAN) and #75 Richard Wire (STAN).

USC VS. CALIFORNIA: USC is 123-33 all-time against the Bears after sweeping last season's competition with 7-0 and 6-1 wins. #26 California is 3-1 after beating Reno 6-1 and St. Mary's 4-3 last week. The Bears have no one ranked in singles or doubles.

USC VS. STANFORD: USC is 95-74 all-time against the Cardinal after sweeping last season's competition with 5-2 and 4-2 wins. #42 Stanford is 0-2 after falling 4-3 to Tulsa and 7-0 to Georgia last week. The Cardinal have three ranked singles players: #2 Alex Clayton, #41 Ted Kelly and #75 Richard Wire.

RECENT ACTION: USC opened up a 3-0 start to 2008, steering clear of the rainy skies long enough to post a 5-2 win over San Diego and 6-1 wins over UC Irvine and San Diego State. Three Trojans grabbed three straight singles wins in the early stretch: newcomers Abdullah Magdas and Jaak Poldma and sophomore Jason McNaughton. Also drilling out three victories was USC's No. 2-ranked doubles duo of sophomore Robert Farah and senior Kaes Van't Hof, who now boast a doubles record of 16-6 after their winning run at the No. 1 doubles slot for the Trojans.

TOP COACHES: Pac-10 Coach of the Year Peter Smith and his assistant Brett Masi earned regional honors for their roles in pushing USC back into the postseason with 2007's deep postseason run and a 22-3 overall finish. Smith was named the 2007 ITA West Region Coach of the Year, and Masi was the 2007 ITA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year.

BACK FOR MORE: Four members of the Trojans' NCAA ladder are back for 2008. Headlined by ITA West Regional doubles champions Kaes Van't Hof and Robert Farah, the 2008 Trojans are deep, talented and young. Van't Hof -- who carried 77 career singles wins into the year -- is USC's only senior. Farah, a sophomore who held down the fort at the No. 4 singles slot the majority of his freshman season, also turned some heads in reaching the final of the Polo Ralph Lauren Men's All-American during the fall. Also racking up the wins in their first seasons at Troy were Jason McNaughton and Gary Sacks. Now sophomores, the pair garnered 57 singles wins as freshmen. McNaughton had 34 of those, boasting the most wins of all the 2007 Trojans. Sacks and his powerful serve anchored the No. 6 singles slot for a great deal of last season.

NEW TALENT: Seeing their first action as Trojans this season after sitting out in 2007 will be Jack Levis, Abdullah Magdas and Andrew Piotrowski. Levis redshirted last season, and Magdas and Piotrowski sat out due to NCAA requirements. All three have the experience and skill to inject even more talent into the 2007 Trojan gameplan, especially with the addition of three new freshmen to the lineup -- Daniel Gliner, Matt Manasse and Jaak Poldma.

ON SMITH'S WATCH: Peter Smith, the 2007 Pac-10 and ITA West Regional Coach of the Year, enters his sixth season as head coach of the Trojan men's tennis program. He has compiled a 350-181 (.659) career coaching record and is 80-46 (.635) at USC. After five years at Pepperdine, Smith became only the third head coach in Trojan tennis history 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. In 2006, USC missed the postseason with an 8-14 record, but in 2007, USC reemerged on the NCAA scene, racking up its best program start since 1987 with an 11-0 record on the way to a second-place finish in the Pac-10 (6-1) and a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals to finish 23-3 overall. It was the biggest turnaround in USC history, and the mark stands out as the fewest losses sustained since USC went 22-3 in 1994, when the Trojans won their 15th NCAA title. Smith is the only men's tennis coach ever to lead four different men's programs to national top-25 rankings and is one of only two coaches to guide three different schools to the NCAA quarterfinals and top-5 national rankings (USC, Pepperdine and Fresno State).

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