No. 9 USC Men’s Tennis Tangles With Texas Tuesday, ASU and Arizona Up Next
No. 9 USC is in the midst of a nice, long home stand, with three more matches on tap at Marks Stadium this week. Tests three, four and five of the seven-match stretch has Texas, Arizona State and Arizona coming to town, beginning with a Tuesday (March 15) clash against the Longhorns at 5 p.m. It's a rematch of last year's NCAA Quarterfinal clash between USC and Texas, offering the Trojans a chance a revenge for a 4-3 loss taken in 2021 in Orlando. From there, USC will turn to its first Pac-12 matches of the year, hosting the Sun Devils at 5 p.m. on Friday (March 18) and then facing Arizona at 1 p.m. on Sunday (March 20).
**TUESDAY PROMO — There will be pizza provided for fans at Tuesday's 5 p.m. match against Texas, as well as USC baseball hats for 100 fans!**
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 March 9), USC stood at No. 9 in the land. Individual preseason rankings also were released on March 9, with four Trojans ranked in singles. Junior Stefan Dostanic sticks in the top 10 with a spot at #7 in the nation, followed by a #30 slot for Peter Makk, along with #70 Lodewijk Weststrate and #116 Bradley Frye on the list. In doubles, USC has Dostanic and Frye now standing at #14 in the land.
The No. 15 Longhorns are 8-7 overall after beating Texas A&M 4-3 and falling to Ohio State 4-3 last week. Texas has three players ranked in singles: #20 Pierre-Tves Bailly, #32 Richard Ciamarra and #38 Micah Braswell. In doubles, Texas has #12 Ciamarra/Harper and #51 Spizzirri/Woldeab in the rankings. In a series dating back to 1975, USC is 22-6 all-time against Texas after last year's 4-3 loss to the Longhorns in the NCAA Quarterfinals in Orlando.
The Sun Devils are 5-9 overall after a 4-0 win over Idaho, a 4-1 win over Texas Tech and a 4-1 loss to Princeton last week. ASU has two players ranked in singles: #28 Murphy Cassone and #94 Fabien Salle. In doubles, ASU has #59 McKennon/Salle in the rankings. In a series dating back to 1953, USC is 57-9 all-time against ASU after two wins last year. USC beat the Sun Devils 6-1 during conference play in Tempe and then claimed the 2021 Pac-12 Tournament Championship with a 4-1 win over ASU in San Diego.
The No. 18 Wildcats enter the week at 13-5 overall after a 5-2 loss to Baylor last week. Arizona has three players ranked in singles: #36 Colton Smith, #74 Herman Hoeyeraal and #80 Jonas Ericksson Ziverts. In doubles, Arizona has #72 Hassey/Smith in the rankings. In a series dating back to 1934, USC is 102-2 all-time against Arizona after a split last season. The Trojans suffered just its second loss to the Wildcats with a 4-3 decision in Tucson last year, and then avenged that with a 4-1 victory in the 2021 Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.
USC captured a 6-1 win over visiting Penn at Marks Stadium, making doubles comeback and then pressing on to gather a string of singles wins to beat the Quakers. Freshman Ryan Colby would claim the clincher from court six to help the Trojans tally their 10th win of the year. USC dug out the double point with a gutsy move on court three. The Trojans fell on court one with 6-3 defeat for Ryder Jackson and Peter Makk at the hands of Penn's Graziani/Hilldebrand. USC fired right back when Paul Barretto and Stefan Dostanic delivered a 6-4 victory over Parikh/Zhu to snarl things up. At the No. 3 spot, USC's Peter Makk and Lodewijk Weststrate fought out of a 2-5 hole to come back and beat Gupta/Smith 7-5, tacking up a 1-0 lead for the Trojans. USC would extend its advantage with #7 Dostanic's smooth 6-3, 6-2 win on court one over Edoardo Graziani, and the #70 Weststrate bounced back from an early hole to beat Kevin Zhu 6-3, 6-3 on court four to make it a 3-0 Trojan lead. Coming through with the clincher was freshman Ryan Colby, whose cruise to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Baylor Sai on court six secured the W for the Trojans. The match would play on, and Ryder Jackson hit the finish line next to make it 5-0 USC, as he topped Harsh Parikh 7-6 (1), 6-2 from the No. 5 slot. Up on court two, USC's Wojtek Marek notched a 6-2, 7-5 win over Jason Hildebrand, and it was 6-0 USC with one match still underway. That one would be decided in a 10-point tiebreaker, with the Quakers claiming a point on Aditya Gupta's 6-2, 4-6, 1-0 (10-8) decision over USC's Peter Makk on court three.
MAKK ON THE ATTACK
USC freshman Peter Makk won three singles matches for the Trojans in Seattle last week and secured himself as USC's first winner of a Pac-12 Player of the Week honor this year with his selection on Feb. 22. Makk's work helped the No. 11 Trojans to three wins in four matches, including 4-1 decisions over No. 15 Mississippi and No. 8 Stanford at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. Makk opened the week with the cinching victory against Portland. His singles match against No. 10 Kentucky in the opening round of ITA Indoors was suspended, but he'd bounce back with straight-set wins in USC's next two matches against the Rebels and the Cardinal. In the rematch with Stanford, Makk avenged his only dual-match loss of the year with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 49 Max Basing on court four. Ranked No. 26 in the nation in singles, Makk boasts the second most singles wins on the team to date with his 16-7 mark.
REVENGE IN SEATTLE
USC avenged an earlier loss to Stanford by turning the tide on the No. 8 Cardinal in Seattle for a 4-1 comeback win in consolation play at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. In doing so, USC avenged an earlier loss taken to the Cardinal in Palo Alto. To get this one, USC steamrolled its way through singles play, rebounding from losing the doubles point with a string of straight-set singles wins. Lodewijk Weststrate registered the clincher in this one to help USC to an 8-2 overall record with its second win at the ITA event in Seattle. Stanford snagged the doubles point with 6-3 decisions on courts one and three to get the early leg up in this one. USC responded by taking the first sets on five courts in singles. The Trojans would keep their feet on the gas, sparked first by #46 Peter Makk's 6-1, 6-4 victory over Stanford's #46 Max Basing on court four to snarl things up at 1-1. Senior Bradley Frye came through next with a swift 6-1, 6-4 win of his own over #74 Axel Geller at the No. 3 spot. Pulling the Trojans into position was freshman Ryan Colby on court six, where his 6-3, 6-2 win over Tomas Kopczynski made it 3-1 USC. Two Trojans were pressing for the clincher, and it would be Lodewijk Weststrate who hit the finish line first with a 6-3, 6-3 win over #108 Aryan Chaudhary on court five. That gave USC the win and suspended a top-four battle on court one, where USC's #4 Stefan Dostanic was leading Stanford's #1 Arthur Fery 7-5, 5-2 when action came to a halt.
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 boasted 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 27 singles wins while riding a nine-match win streak. Five other Trojans now join him with double-digit wins on the singles side, with freshman Peter Makk holding 16 wins and senior Bradley Frye at 13. Junior Ryder Jackson and sophomore Lodewijk Weststrate, meanwhile, now weigh in with 12 each, while freshman Ryan Colby has joined the club with 10. In doubles, #14 Dostanic/Frye have played the most matches together and boast the most wins with their 12-8 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. •