No. 4 USC Men Enter Pac-10 Play
March 25, 2008
THIS WEEK: USC enters its first official Pac-10 competition this week as the No. 4 Trojans (13-3) head to Oregon and Washington. USC will visit the Ducks (10-7) for a 1:30 p.m. match on Friday (March 28) in Eugene before going to Seattle for a 1 p.m. match on Saturday (March 29) to face the No. 20 Huskies (11-4).
ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC has moved up to rank No. 4 in the latest ITA rankings, released March 25. The latest individual rankings came out on March 18, with Robert Farah up to #7, Kaes Van't Hof at #46 and Gary Sacks at #54. Farah/Van't Hof moved up again in the ITA doubles rankings, coming in at #2.
SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks are 10-7 overall and are coming off a week's break. Oregon has no players ranked in singles or doubles. USC is 13-0 all-time against Oregon, having posted a 7-0 sweep of the Ducks last season at home.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON: The Huskies are ranked No. 20 and are 11-4 overall after a week off of competition. Washington has two players ranked in singles -- #77 Patrik Fischer and #94 Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. USC is 19-4 all-time against Washington, having posted a 7-0 sweep of the Huskies last season at home. USC's last loss to Washington was a 4-3 Husky win in 2006.
RECENT ACTION: USC knocked off two top-10 teams last week, picking up a pair of road wins during Spring Break. Ranked No. 9 last week, the Trojans opened the trip with a 4-3 upset of then-No. 4 Texas before heading to the site of the 2008 NCAA Championships and grabbing a 6-1 win over then-No. 8 Tulsa. USC and Texas already had tangled once during the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February, when Texas claimed a 4-1 win over USC. This time, the Longhorns went ahead 2-0 before the Trojans answered with four straight singles wins to secure the victory. Gary Sacks secured the upset win for Troy with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 win at No. 4 over Luis Diaz Barriga. Two days later, USC dispatched another top-10 squad in beating Tulsa 6-1. The Trojans picked up the first two wins in doubles play to secure that opening point, then nabbed three straight singles matches to clinch victory. Securing victory for the Trojans was Abdullah Magdas out of the No. 6 slot, as he dispatched Ross Cunningham 7-6 (4), 6-4. Magdas' two straight-set victories during USC's upset road wins last week earned the junior his first career Pac-10 Player of the Week award.
ONE-TWO PUNCH: In the battles that rage at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles positions during dual match play, USC's full-time top-two of sophomore Robert Farah and Kaes Van't Hof have held their own. Both have hit 10 wins in dual match action from their top slots in the ladder to help lead the Trojans. Farah is now 25-9 overall in singles and 11-4 in dual matches after having an eight-match win streak snapped with a singles split last weekend. Van't Hof boasts an 18-8 overall mark and 12-4 record in dual match play and is riding a six-match win streak.
CLEANUP CREW: USC has had a powerful 4-5-6 lineup this season, with five strong players rotating through those slots to combine for a 33-12 record at the three positions in dual match play. Sophomore Gary Sacks has gone 5-2 at the No. 4 slot since freshman Jaak Poldma went from his 5-0 run at the position to take over at the No. 3 slot in past matches. Sophomore Jason McNaughton has spent the majority of his time at the No. 5 position, going 6-5, and junior Abdullah Magdas holds an 8-1 mark at the No. 6 spot.
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 11-match win streak into this week's competition, the pair now holds a 24-3 overall record together this season after a clean 11-0 run through dual match doubles play so far this season.
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 18-8 overall in singles and holds a 24-3 overall record in doubles with Farah, also undefeated in dual match doubles play.
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 now hold a 25-9 overall record on the season and 11-4 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.