No. 7 USC Men Take On Duke On Friday

March 11, 2008

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THIS WEEK: USC has just one nonconference clash lined up this week, bringing Duke to town for a Friday afternoon match. The No. 7 Trojans (10-3) face the No. 61 Blue Devils (3-5) at 1:30 p.m. on March 14 at Marks Stadium.

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC has moved to rank No. 7 in the latest ITA rankings, released March 11. The latest individual rankings came out on March 4, holding Robert Farah at #11, Gary Sacks at #47, Kaes Van't Hof at #58, Jaak Poldma at #90 and Jason McNaughton at #95. Farah/Van't Hof stand high in the ITA doubles rankings, coming in at #3.

USC VS. DUKE: Duke ranks No. 61 in the nation and is 3-5 overall after beating LMU 6-1 last week. The Blue Devils have #39 Reid Carleton and #48 David Goulet ranked in singles. USC is 3-2 all-time against Duke. The teams last faced in 2006 when the Blue Devils beat the Trojans 4-3.

RECENT ACTION: USC went up against crosstown rival UCLA last week before hosting Baylor on Sunday. Against the #6 Bruins, USC wound up with a 5-2 loss after falling in doubles and getting singles wins at the top-two slots from Robert Farah and Kaes Van't Hof. Three days later, back at home, USC jumped ahead of #11 Baylor with the doubles point secured, then clinched the match at 4-1 with a win from the No. 6 position by Abdullah Magdas. Baylor opted to default the remaining two matches, giving USC the 6-1 victory.

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 15-8 overall in singles and holds a 21-3 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 four strong players rotating through those slots to combine for a 24-9 record at the three positions in dual match play. Freshman Jaak Poldma just suffered his first dual match loss to hold a powerful 10-1 mark in dual matches, but hasbeen 5-0 at the No. 4 position. Sophomore Jason McNaughton is 8-4, and junior Abdullah Magdas is 8-3. Sophomore Gary Sacks has since moved into the No. 4 slot with Poldma's rise to No. 3 and holds a 5-4 dual match record.

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. Riding an eight-match win streak into this week's competition, the pair now holds a 21-3 overall record together this season after a clean 8-0 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. Farah is on a seven-match win streak to now hold a 23-8 overall record on the season and 9-3 mark from 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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