USC Men Travel To Tulsa For NCAA Team Action

May 13, 2008

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TEAM PLAY: Awarded the No. 6 seed into the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championships, USC now has secured its place among the top 16 teams with wins in the two opening rounds of NCAA action. After beating Southern and California both in smooth 4-0 decisions last week, the Trojans carry a 21-4 overall record into the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla. There, USC's quest for a 17th national championship will continue with a Round of 16 clash against Oklahoma State (18-9) at 6 p.m. on Friday (May 16). The NCAA Team Championships are set to run May 16-20 in Tulsa, followed by NCAA Singles and Doubles competition.

FOLLOW ALONG: Live scoring and other information will be available online throughout the NCAA Championships at Tulsa's TOURNAMENT CENTRAL.

SINGLES SCENE: USC has pushed three players into the NCAA Singles Championships, set to be held May 21-26 at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla.. Sophomore Robert Farah is the tournament's No. 6 seed for the singles action, joined by senior Kaes Van't Hof and freshman Jaak Poldma as at-large selections. For Farah and Poldma, this year's NCAA Singles Championships will be the first such appearance of their Trojan careers. Farah stands out as USC's No. 1 singles player in the lineup this year, having earned himself a No. 6 national ranking and racked up an overall singles record of 33-12. He was a perfect 4-0 in dual match play during USC's 2007 NCAA Team Championship competition as a freshman, and has built on that success this season as a sophomore. Poldma has been an impact addition to the Trojan lineup this year as a freshman, posting a 33-6 overall singles record so far in his first season. He carried a 14-match win streak until having to face teammate Farah in the Pac-10 Singles Semifinals last week, and enters this year's NCAA action as the nation's No. 54 ranked player. Making his second career appearance in the NCAA Singles Championships is senior Van't Hof, who rides an 18-match win streak entering the 2008 postseason after claiming the Pac-10 Singles Championship last week in Ojai. Van't Hof was named an alternate into the 2007 NCAA tournament as the nation's No. 63 ranked player, but was bumped into the NCAA action to come up against eighth-seeded Stephen Bass of Notre Dame. This year, Van't Hof ranks No. 29 in the nation and boasts an overall singles mark of 30-8 after his run to the Pac-10 title.

DYNAMIC DUO: On the doubles side, USC has Pac-10 Doubles Champion pair Robert Farah / Kaes Van't Hof lined up as the No. 2 seed into the 2008 NCAA Doubles Championships. Undefeated in dual match play this year and boasting a 33-3 overall record, Farah/Van't Hof ride a 20-match win streak on the way into this year's postseason.

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC ranks No. 6 in the latest ITA rankings, released April 28. The latest individual rankings also were released on April 28, with four Trojans in the rankings -- #6 Robert Farah, #29 Kaes Van't Hof, #54 Jaak Poldma and #72 Gary Sacks. In doubles, Farah/Van't Hof remain ranked #2 in the nation.

NCAA NOTES: USC's ticket into the 2008 NCAA tournament marks the Trojans' 30th NCAA appearance, as USC has accumulated 16 national championships -- last in 2002 -- and brings an overall NCAA record of 59-28 into the 2008 competition.

RECAPPING THE PAC: The Trojans are coming off a decidedly successful Pac-10 Championships in which USC swept the singles and doubles titles. With four Trojans moving through to the singles semifinals, USC was assured another Pac-10 singles crown. In an all-Trojan singles title match in Ojai, Kaes Van't Hof claimed the Pac-10 Singles Championship with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) win over teammate Robert Farah. Van't Hof joined his father Robert as one of USC's conference singles champs. Robert Van't Hof won titles in 1978 and 1980, and he and Kaes become the first father-son pair to have won conference singles titles. Van't Hof rounded out the day with another trip to the podium, meeting back up with Farah -- this time back as teammates -- and the USC pair won the Pac-10 Doubles Championship. Van't Hof had carried a 13-match singles win streak into the 2008 Pac-10 Championships and was seeded No. 2 behind Farah. The championship win over Farah notched the senior's 30th singles win of the year, as Van't Hof is 30-8 overall entering the upcoming NCAA action in store for the Trojans. Later in the day, the two Trojans teamed back up on the same side of the net and combined forces to win the Pac-10 Doubles Championship. Owners of a 16-match win streak coming into the Pac-10 tourney, the USC duo ran that up to 20 straight with its championship run. In the title match, top-seeded Farah/Van't Hof met No. 2 seed Bellama/Brooklyn of ASU. There, USC's sophomore-senior combo kept control of the match, claiming a 6-4, 6-4 victory to get the Trojans their first Pac-10 doubles crown since 2003 and round out a winning weekend for Van't Hof.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR: The No. 12 seed in 2007, the Trojans reached the NCAA Quarterfinals last season, posting a Round of 16 upset of Notre Dame before falling to fourth-seeded Virginia in the quarters to finish the year at 23-3 overall. To get to the NCAA action in Athens, Ga., USC claimed 4-0 wins over UC Santa Barbara and Pepperdine in the NCAA First and Second Rounds at Marks Stadium. Individually, USC had three players compete in the NCAA Singles Championships in Athens. All three lost in the first round to higher ranked opponents. Senior Jamil Al-Agba fell to #30 Ivan Pucharov (Oklahoma State); senior Dejan Cvetkovic fell to #5 Kevin Anderson (Illinois); and junior Kaes Van't Hof lost to #8 Stephen Bass (Notre Dame).

ONE-TWO PUNCH: In the battles that rage at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles positions during dual match play, USC's top-two of Robert Farah and Kaes Van't Hof have held their own. They've only taken a combined 10 losses in dual match action while accumulating a combined 34 wins from their top slots in the ladder to help lead the Trojans. Farah is 33-12 overall in singles and 15-6 in dual matches, although injury took him out of the lineup for one week. Van't Hof boasts a 30-8 overall mark and 19-4 record in dual match play and rides an 18-match win streak.

CLEANUP CREW: USC has had a powerful 4-5-6 lineup throughout much of the season, with six strong players rotating through those slots to combine for a 45-21 (.682) record at the three positions in dual match play. Gary Sacks has gone 6-6 at the No. 4 slot since Jaak Poldma went from his 5-0 run at the position to take over at the No. 3 slot in past matches. Jason McNaughton is 7-6 at the No. 5 position and is 6-1 from the No. 6 slot, while Abdullah Magdas holds a 6-5 mark at No. 5 and went 8-1 out of No. 6. Stepping in at No. 6 for three dual matches apiece have been Daniel Gliner and Andrew Piotrowski, who are 2-1 and 3-1, respectively, in that slot.

HOW THE WEST WAS WON: The USC doubles duo of Robert Farah / Kaes Van't Hof remain ranked No. 2 in the nation in a season that has seen the pair open the fall by winning the ITA West Regional doubles title and then closing out the regular season as the Pac-10 Doubles Champions. Riding a 20-match win streak, the pair holds a 33-3 overall record together after a clean 16-0 run through dual match doubles play this year.

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 injected experience and skill into the 2008 Trojan gameplan, bolstered further with the addition of three new freshmen to the lineup -- Daniel Gliner, Matt Manasse and Jaak Poldma. Polma has been USC's most successful dual match player, going 21-1 in dual match singles and holding a 33-6 overall record as the freshman phenom boasted a 14-match win streak until coming up against teammate Robert Farah in an all-Trojan Pac-10 Singles semifinal on April 26 in Ojai, Calif.

VAN'T HOF'S HAT TRICK: USC's only senior Kaes Van't Hof earned his third career Pac-10 Player of the Week award after picking up 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. 2008 Pac-10 Singles champ Van't Hof is now 30-8 overall in singles and holds a 33-3 overall record in doubles with Farah, also undefeated in dual match doubles play. Van't Hof hit the century mark this season with his 100th career singles win in a straight-set victory at the No. 2 slot against ASU on April 11. He now holds 107 career singles wins.

FARAH'S FANTASTIC FALL: 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 recently wound up as runner-up to teammate Kaes Van't Hof at the Pac-10 Championships. Farah now holds a 33-12 overall record on the season and 15-6 mark from the No. 1 singles position for the Trojans.

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.

TOP-10 TAKEDOWN: During USC's Spring Break, the Trojans knocked off two top-10 teams while then ranked No. 9 in the nation. USC 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. 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. Abdullah Magdas' two straight-set victories during USC's upset road wins earned the junior his first career Pac-10 Player of the Week award.

TOP COACHES: 2007 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.

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