No. 8 USC Men Set Up Camp At Home To Open NCAA Campaign

May 5, 2009

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TEAM PLAY: USC has picked up the No. 8 seed into the 2009 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships and is tabbed a host for the first and second rounds of action in this year's tourney. Carrying a 19-5 overall record, the Trojans welcome three teams to Marks Stadium on May 8 and 9 as they do battle toward earning a spot in the final 16 for a trip to the NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas, running May 14-19. Coming to Los Angeles this weekend for the first two rounds will be UC Santa Barbara (11-13), Minnesota (18-7) and New Mexico (20-5). USC opens up against UC Santa Barbara at 5 p.m. on Friday (May 8), with Minnesota and New Mexico facing off in the earlier match at 2 p.m. that afternoon. The winners will face off in the second round match at 3 p.m. on Saturday (May 9).

NCAA NOTES: This will be the USC men's third straight NCAA appearance and 31st overall. The Trojans have claimed 16 national championships all-time, with the last coming in 2002. USC's overall NCAA tournament record is 62-29 after making a trip to the 2008 NCAA Quarterfinals as a No. 6 seed in last year's action in Tulsa, Okla. USC currently holds a No. 8 national ranking in the latest Campbell/ITA rankings as the Trojans tote another 19-win record into this year's NCAA Championships. (Full NCAA team bracket attached in this release)

FOLLOW ALONG: The NCAA First and Second Round matches this week at USC's Marks Stadium will have live scoring updates as well as live video available. CLICK HERE to access the live updates.

SINGLES SCENE: USC has pushed two players into the NCAA Individual Championships, set to run May 20-25 in College Station. Robert Farah and Steve Johnson are all lined up in singles, and the two will also combine forces in doubles play. NCAA Singles and Doubles Championship competition will run May 20-25. USC's potent pair ride their singles success and doubles domination into spots in the action in College Station, Texas. It will be Robert Farah's second straight trip to both NCAA brackets, as he was the No. 6 seed in singles and the No. 2 seed and eventual NCAA Doubles Champion with partner Kaes Van't Hof in 2008. Farah reached the singles Round of 16 last year. Now a junior, Farah ranks No. 8 in the nation for the No. 8 seed into this year's singles bracket is 26-6 overall in singles as he and the Trojans settle in for the NCAA Team Championships beginning next weekend. A freshman ranked No. 53 in the nation, Steve Johnson also has secured a spot in the NCAA Singles action. He recently reached the final of the Pac-10 Singles Championships and currently holds a 31-11 overall singles record on the way into his first NCAA experience.

DYNAMIC DUO: While they battle in out on the singles courts in College Station, Farah and Johnson will also combine forces as 5-8 seed in the NCAA Doubles Championships. Farah/Johnson rank No. 4 in the nation and picked up the automatic bid out of the Pac-10 Conference for this year's NCAA competition. The duo holds a 29-9 overall record in doubles play on the season so far.

CAMPBELL/ITA RANKING UPDATES: The latest Campbell/ITA national team rankings have USC ranked No. 8 in the nation, as of April 28. Individually, the latest Campbell/ITA singles and doubles rankings also were posted April 28, with Robert Farah ranked as the nation's #8 singles player. Joining him in the national rankings are #53 Steve Johnson, #81 Jaak Poldma and #106 Abdullah Magdas. In doubles, Farah/Johnson are ranked #4 and Magdas/Daniel Nguyen rank #59.

RECAPPING THE PAC: USC finished second in the Pac-10 to UCLA this year and sent a number of players through to the individual action at the Pac-10 Championships. Out of the five players lined up for the Pac-10 Singles Championship bracket, freshman Steve Johnson reached the singles final, while Robert Farah reached the singles semis and the doubles pair of Abdullah Magdas / Daniel Nguyen also made a semifinal appearance in Ojai. On the Invitational side, Nguyen reigned supreme out of the three Trojans in that bracket, as Nguyen won the Invitational singles championship.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR: USC was awarded the No. 6 seed into the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championships, into which the Trojans carried a 19-4 overall record following another powerful regular season. USC picked up first- and second-round wins with 4-0 decisions over Southern and California to push on to Tulsa, where the Trojans beat Oklahoma State 4-2 in the Round of 16 before falling in a 4-2 loss to UCLA in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Individually, No. 6 seed Robert Farah reached the NCAA Singles Round of 16 and Kaes Van't Hof reached the Round of 32. In doubles, Farah and Van't Hof teamed up as the No. 2 seeded duo and powered their way to the 2008 NCAA Doubles Championship for USC's first NCAA doubles title since 1989. Farah/Van't Hof also were named the 2008 ITA Doubles Team of the Year.

TOP-TEN 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. USC has gone 4-3 against top-10 teams so far this year.

BACK ON THE ATTACK: USC junior Robert Farah returned to singles action after being sidelined for six straight matches, competing in his first Pac-10 singles match of the season last weekend and earning his second career honor as Pac-10 Player of the Week. Although it had been almost a month since his last singles match for USC, Farah managed to follow up a doubles win with a third-set tiebreak win in singles. Farah had teamed back up with Steve Johnson for doubles to start the day in USC's match against No. 18 Arizona, and the Trojan pair clinched the doubles point for USC with an 8-6 win over Arizona's ranked pair at the No. 1 position. In singles, #3 Farah got back to form with his 22nd singles win of the year, outlasting Arizona's #68 Jay Goldman in the third set's 10-point tiebreak. Ranked #8 in the nation, Farah is now 26-6 overall and 12-3 in dual match singles play. In doubles with Johnson, Farah ranks #4 with a 29-9 overall record and 15-5 mark in dual matches.

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 #106 in singles, Magdas has improved his singles record to 23-12 overall and is 12-5 in dual match play.

GREATNESS RETURNING: 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 now is ranked #8 in the nation in singles. In the win count on the season so far, freshman Steve Johnson leads the way with 31, followed by McNaughton with a 29-14 record. Farah also is in the 20-win zone at 26-6, as is Magdas at 23-12.

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 clocked in at No. 46 behind second-ranked Farah/Johnson. Now seasoned Trojans, Pac-1- singles finalist Johnson, Kecki and Pac-10 Invitational Singles champ Nguyen have all hit the 20-win mark in singles play. Johnson is now the team leader at 31-11, with Nguyen at 29-9 and Kecki at 25-12.

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 29-9 overall record and are 15-5 in dual match play so far.

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