No. 11 USC Men’s Tennis Eyes Another Deep Run At ITA National Team Indoors
The No. 11 USC men's tennis team is set up in Seattle this week, turning its attention to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, hosted by Washington at Nordstrom Tennis Center and Seattle Tennis Club from Feb. 18-21. Winners of the 2020 championship, the Trojans (6-1) are making their 14th consecutive trip to the event. USC has earned the No. 10 seed in this year's draw to put the Trojans up against No. 7 seed Kentucky in the Round of 16 at 3:30 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 18). A win there would advance the Trojans into a 6:30 p.m. quarterfinal clash with either No. 2 seed Baylor or No. 15 seed Ole Miss on Saturday (Feb. 19). Semifinals take place on Sunday (Feb. 20), with the championship match set for 12 p.m. on Monday (Feb. 21).
ITA INDOORS CENTRAL: https://www.wearecollegetennis.com/events/division1-mens-indoors/
IN THE RANKINGS
The Trojans opened 2022 ranked No. 9 in the nation — an upgrade from the No. 10 spot it finished up at in 2021. As of the latest set of ITA National Team Rankings (released Feb. 9), USC moved from No. 8 in the nation to No. 11. Individual preseason rankings also were released on Feb. 9, with three Trojans ranked in singles. Junior Stefan Dostanic has upgraded his top-10 ranking to stand at #4 in the nation this week, followed by #46 Peter Makk and #59 Lodewijk Weststrate. In doubles, USC has Dostanic and Frye looming larger than ever at #3 in the land, while Dostanic and Samuel Rubell sit at #23.
USC overcame a slip in doubles play and pieced together a singles surge to take over and earn a 4-3 win over Portland today in Seattle at the Tennis Center at Sand Point. The Pilots picked up the doubles point with wins on courts one and three, with Portland's Neos/Pankin upsetting USC's #3 Stefan Dostanic and Bradley Frye in a tiebreaker 7-6 (4) for a surprise early twist. USC's Paul Barretto and Ryan Colby snagged a 6-3 win on court three for a bright spot, but the Pilots' opening 6-2 win on court two over Peter Makk and Wojtek Marek helped put Portland on a path to a 1-0 lead. In singles, #4 Stefan Dostanic righted his ship with a smooth 6-0, 6-4 win over Sema Pankin at the top spot to level things at 1-1, and then Ryan Colby got USC a lift ahead with his 6-4, 6-1 victory over Oscar Brown on court six. Next to hit the finish line for the Trojan cause was Wojtek Marek, who pulled USC into striking distance with his 6-2, 6-4 win over Eleftherios Neos at the No. 2 spot. Coming through with the clincher soon after was #46 Peter Makk — USC's third straight freshman to collect a W today as he dispatched Nikolas Tvedt 6-2, 6-2 to lock up a 4-1 advantage for the Trojans on the board. The match played on, and Portland snagged a late point on a three-set victory from Julien Penzlin on court three over USC's Bradley Frye to make it 4-2. That left #59 Lodewijk Weststrate tangled in a three-setter on court five with Nicolas Ocana, who took it to a third set tiebreaker and claimed the win over Weststrate to wrap the final score as a 4-3 Trojan victory.
ANOTHER ITA ADVENTURE AHEAD
USC whipped up another solid win at Marks Stadium, defeating No. 24 Harvard in the championship bout of the ITA Kickoff Weekend last month. USC will now make its 14th straight trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, which will be held later this week in Seattle. On ITA Kickoff Weekend, USC's top guns in doubles — #10 Stefan Dostanic and Bradley Frye — lived up to their billing in taking down Harvard's #11 Shi/Milavsky on court one with a 6-3 decision. Ryder Jackson and Wojtek Marek hauled in the doubles point for USC with a 6-4 win on court two. The Trojans promptly claimed first sets on five courts in singles. USC freshman Ryan Colby had a laser focus on a big win in his first match against the Crimson, sizzling his way to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Ronan Jachuck on court five to put the Trojans up 2-0. At the No. 6 slot, Ryder Jackson delivered a smooth 6-2, 6-2 victory over Steven Sun to extend the lead. With all eyes on the clincher, #35 Peter Makk stepped up, shrugging off his second set loss to #86 Daniel Milavsy to pin up a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 decision that sealed the deal on USC's win over the Crimson with a 4-0 score on the board. That suspended matches on courts one, two and three, where #6 Stefan Dostanic, #70 Bradley Frye and Wojtek Marek were in tight third sets with their respective Harvard foes.
STEF'S SHERWOOD SUCCESS
USC may have had its final day of action at the Sherwood Cup washed out, but Trojan junior Stefan Dostanic still emerged with top honors at the event. After netting two strong singles wins in USC's double day of competition on Sunday (Jan. 16), the No. 6-ranked Dostanic was named Singles Champion. In USC's morning matchups against Stanford players, Dostanic topped the Cardinal's Alexandre Rotsaert 7-6 (3), 6-3. Later that evening, in the Trojans' makeup action against players from Texas A&M, Dostanic made it a winning day for himself in taking down #115 Noah Schachter 6-1, 4-6, 1-0 (10-2). After that first round of Spring competition, Dostanic grips a 20-4 overall record in this 2021-22 campaign.
BY THE NUMBERS
USC's winningest player to date is newcomer Stefan Dostanic, who has churned out 24 singles wins while riding a six-match win streak. Three Trojans now join him with double-digit wins on the singles side, with senior Bradley Frye and freshman Peter Makk with 12 victories apiece. Sophomore Lodewijk Weststrate, meanwhile, weighs in with 10. In doubles, #3 Dostanic/Frye have played the most matches together and boast the most wins with their 11-5 record together to date.
In Brett Masi's second season at the helm of the USC program, the Trojans posted a 23-7 overall record and claimed the 2021 Pac-12 Tournament Championship along the way. No fall competition was held due to the coronavirus pandemic, but action eventually got underway in January 2021. The Trojans were ranked No. 1 in the nation entering 2021 — a nod to the 2020 ITA National Team Indoor Championship the Trojans had won before the pandemic brought competition to a halt that year. After a run to the 2021 NCAA Quarterfinals, where USC fell in a tough 4-3 decision to Texas, the Trojans ended the season ranked No. 10 in the land. Seniors Daniel Cukierman and Riley Smith both earned ITA All-American status for singles and doubles, having made a run to the NCAA Doubles quarterfinals and finishing up ranked No. 6 in the nation. In singles, Cukierman reached the NCAA Singles Round of 16 and wrapped his USC career ranked No. 24 in the nation. Smith, meanwhile, reached the NCAA Singles Round of 32 and ended up ranked No. 53. Sophomore Stefan Dostanic finished up at No. 98 in the final national singles rankings, and was No. 88 in doubles alongside Bradley Frye. •