No. 6 USC Men Return Home for Two Matches

Feb. 19, 2008

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THIS WEEK: After suffering its first two losses of the year while at the prestigious ITA National Team Indoor Championships, No. 6 USC returns home this week to host two Pac-10 teams in nonconference competition at Marks Stadium. The Trojans (8-2) first host No. 69 Arizona at 1:30 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 22), and then will face No. 37 Arizona State at 1 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 23).

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC remains ranked No. 6 in the latest ITA rankings, released Feb. 12. 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. Arizona's Claudio Christen ranks #67 in singles, and Christen/Alcala rank #7 in doubles.

USC VS. ARIZONA: Arizona ranks #69 in the nation and is 8-1 after beating San Diego State 5-2 earlier this week. The Wildcats are led by #67 Claudio Christen, who also ranks #7 in doubles with Bruno Alcala. USC is 89-2 all-time against Arizona, having won both matches last season in 6-1 decisions. USC's last loss to Arizona was in 2006 in a 4-3 defeat during Pac-10 play.

USC VS. ARIZONA STATE: Arizona State ranks #37 in the nation and is undefeated at 5-0 after beating Marquette 4-3 and Northwestern 6-1 last week. The Sun Devils have no players ranked in the preseason ITA rankings. USC is 52-9 all-time against ASU, winning 6-1 and 5-2 last season. USC's last loss to Arizona State was in 2006 in a 4-3 loss during Pac-10 play.

RECENT ACTION: USC extended its win streak to eight straight by opening the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle with a 4-1 win over #11 Illinois. USC's first two losses of the year followed, however, as the Trojans were beaten 4-1 by #3 Ohio State in the quarterfinals and then 4-1 by #7 Texas in consolation play. For the first time this season, USC was unable to capture the doubles point in all three matches. Robert Farah emerged as USC's most successful player, as the sophomore won two singles matches at the No. 1 position. His third match versus Texas' #53 Dimitar Kutrovsky was suspended at 6-1, 4-6, 2-3 once the dual match had been decided. Farah began with a 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 comeback win over Illinois' Ruben Gonzalez. In the Ohio State match, Farah powered past #6-ranked Justin Kronauge 6-3, 6-2.

VAN'T HOF'S HAT TRICK: Senior Kaes Van't Hof earned his third career Pac-10 Player of the Week award after picking up two more singles and doubles wins on Feb. 8 and 9. Van't Hof extended his win streaks in both categories to five straight during USC dual match victories. Playing at the No. 2 singles position, Van't Hof first beat Clemson's Kevin Fleck 6-3, 7-6 (4). The next day, he beat Boise State's #19 Clancy Shields 6-3, 6-2. Also playing at No. 1 doubles, Van't Hof and Robert Farah posted an identical win streak, winning in both dual matches for five straight in doubles. Van't Hof is now 12-8 overall in singles and holds an 18-3 overall record in doubles with Farah, also undefeated in dual match doubles play.

CLEANUP CREW: USC has had a powerful 4-5-6 lineup this season, with the three regular players in those singles slots combining for an 21-4 record in dual match play. Freshman Jaak Poldma has a smooth 8-0 mark in dual matches, sophomore Jason McNaughton is 7-2, and junior Abdullah Magdas is 6-2, teaming up as the lineup at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 through the majority of the season.

HOW THE WEST WAS WON: The USC doubles duo of Robert Farah / Kaes Van't Hof are ranked No. 2 in the nation after a powerful fall in which the Trojans captured the ITA West Regional doubles title. The pair holds an 18-3 overall record together this season after a clean 5-0 run through dual match doubles play so far this season.

FARAH'S FANTASTIC FALL: Sophomore Robert Farah put together a powerful fall season, recording a nine-match win streak that carried him into the final of the ITA All-American. He also reached the final of the Sherwood Collegiate Cup in January and now holds a 20-8 overall record on the season while holding down the No. 1 singles position 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.

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).

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.

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