No. 6 USC Men Power On For Pac-10 Clash With Arizona

April 7, 2009

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THIS WEEK: The USC men take another step toward a clean run through Pac-10 play with a home match set up against No. 18 Arizona this week. The No. 6 Trojans (17-4, 4-0 Pac-10) take on the Wildcats (17-3, 2-2) at 1 p.m. on Friday (March 10) at Marks Stadium in the fifth of six Pac-10 dual matches this season.

CAMPBELL/ITA RANKING UPDATES: The latest Campbell/ITA national team rankings have USC still ranked No. 6 in the nation, as of April 6. Singles and doubles rankings were released March 31, with Robert Farah ranked as the nation's #3 singles player. He is joined in the rankings by #67 Steve Johnson, #74 Jaak Poldma and #83 Abdullah Magdas. In doubles, Farah/Johnson are ranked #4.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: Arizona is ranked No. 18 in the nation and is 17-3 overall and 2-2 in Pac-10 play after the Wildcats upset Stanford 4-2 and lost to Cal 4-2 last week. USC is 91-2 all-time against Arizona after getting two 7-0 wins over the Wildcats last season. Arizona has #68 Jay Goldman nationally ranked in singles and #80 VanderMerwe/Metham ranked in doubles.

RECENT ACTION: USC picked up another pair of Pac-10 wins last week in a home stand against #21 Washington and Oregon. Playing without top player #3 Robert Farah in the lineup due to injury for both matches, the Trojans gathered in a 4-3 win over Washington and then swept Oregon 7-0. USC's adjusted doubles lineup pulled out the doubles point in both matches with Magdas/Nguyen filling in at No. 1 for USC's #4 pair of Farah/Johnson. Against the Huskies, USC got ahead 3-1 before Washington made it 3-2 and then saw USC's Abdullah Magdas clinch the win with a victory at the No. 2 singles position. Against Oregon, the Trojans swept through their matches to stay perfect in Pac-10 play and run USC's win streak out to five straight.

TOP-10 TAKEDOWNS: The Trojans have served up big wins against four top-10 teams so far this season. The first top-10 casualty was then-#9 Mississippi during the ITA National Indoor Championships. Two days later, USC took down #2 Texas 4-1. Since then, the Trojans have pinned up a 4-3 road win at #7 Baylor and a 4-3 upset of #4 host Stanford with top gun Robert Farah out of the lineup due to injury. The next potential top-10 showdown for the #6 Trojans could well be their regular-season finale match against current #9 UCLA on April 17.

SENIOR SHINES: USC's lone senior Abdullah Magdas won in out in both doubles and singles for the Trojans when they opened Pac-10 play with two road wins. For his efforts, Magdas earned his second career selection as the Pac-10 Men's Tennis Player of the Week and the first by a Trojan this season. Magdas' biggest win of the weekend was a three-set battle at the No. 3 singles slot against Ryan Thacher -- a victory that clinched a 4-3 upset win for #8 USC over host #4 Stanford. It wrapped up a winning weekend in which Magdas combined forces with Daniel Nguyen for doubles wins that helped ensure important doubles points for the Trojans in both matches. In singles, Magdas pounded out a straight-set win at the No. 3 position that got USC ahead 3-0 against the Bears. The next day, with the match against #4 Stanford hanging in the balance tied up 3-3, Magdas pulled off a three-set nailbiter, working ahead late in the match to clinch the last win for USC 7-6 (4), 6-7 (2), 7-5 and secure the upset win. Now ranked #83 in singles, Magdas has improved his singles record to 21-9 overall and is 11-3 in dual match play.

BACK FOR MORE: Once again, USC has just one senior on its roster - team captain Abdullah Magdas - along with two strong juniors in Robert Farah and Jason McNaughton and sophomore standout Jaak Poldma. Those three Trojans lined up just behind USC's 1-2 punch of Farah and Van't Hof last year, and once again Farah has been tabbed as the headliner on USC's ladder. Although recently sidelined by injury, Farah has been cruising through singles play this season and is ranked #3 in the nation in singles. In the win count on the season so far, McNaughton actually leads the group in singles victories so far this season, holding a 27-13 record. Farah also is in the 20-win zone at 21-4, as is Magdas at 21-9.

THE NEW CLASS: Trojan newcomers Steve Johnson, Matt Kecki, Andrew Kells and Daniel Nguyen all boast a laundry list of junior-level accolades along with championships and strong rankings. Ben Lankenau also joins the crew as a freshman this year, rounding out a formidable group of newcomers who have proven themselves impact players already. Johnson and Kecki both picked up spring singles rankings at No. 58 and No. 54, respectively. USC's young doubles guns also got spring rankings nods, as Kells and Nguyen clock in at No. 46 behind second-ranked Farah/Johnson. Now seasoned Trojans, Johnson, Kecki and Nguyen have all hit the 20-win mark in singles play. Johnson is now 25-9, with Kecki at 23-10 and Nguyen at 23-8.

JUST ADD FARAH: Robert Farah may well be an X-factor for doubles success. With Kaes Van't Hof last season, the Trojan pair captured USC's 21st NCAA Doubles Championship. After Van't Hof's graduation, Farah has teamed up with freshman Steve Johnson to form a new team in similar winning form as the nation's now-No. 4 ranked doubles pair. Farah/Johnson hold a 25-8 overall record and are 10-2 in dual match play so far.

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