No. 15 USC Men’s Tennis Set For Saturday’s Crosstown Showdown At UCLA
No. 15 USC turns to a rivalry clash this weekend as the Trojans pay a visit to crosstown foe UCLA. The Trojans (15-5, 5-1 Pac-12) and Bruins (7-9, 2-2) are due to square off at 3 p.m. on Saturday (April 9) for a Pac-12 matchup at UCLA's Los Angeles Tennis Center.
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 April 6), USC stands at No. 15 in the land. Individual rankings also were released on April 6, with three Trojans currently ranked in singles. Junior Stefan Dostanic has set a new career best, now standing tall at #2 in the nation. He is joined by #52 Peter Makk and #116 Lodewijk Weststrate on the list. In doubles, USC has Dostanic and Frye now standing at #6 in the land.
The No. 48 Bruins are 7-9 overall and 2-2 in Pac-12 play after a 5-1 loss to Washington and a 4-1 win over Oregon last week. UCLA has #23 Alexander Hoogmartens ranked in singles. In doubles, UCLA has #82 Pereira/Zahraj and #88 Baird/Hoogmartens in the rankings. In a series dating back to 1929, USC is 97-114 all-time against the Bruins after a 4-0 win when the teams met earlier this season at Marks Stadium. Last year, USC beat UCLA in all three meetings. The rivals did not face off in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The Bruins' last win over USC was a 4-3 decision on April 5, 2019 at Los Angeles Tennis Center.
USC made it a winning road trip last week in gathering a 4-0 shutout at Oregon and a 4-1 victory at Washington for two more key Pac-12 wins. Competing on the road for the first time since late February, USC secured a shutout victory at Oregon with a swift doubles point was followed by two straight-set singles wins to move into position. At the No. 3 spot, Peter Makk had the winning stroke with a three-set comeback to clinch it at 4-0 for the Trojans. Two days later in Seattle, USC rustled up another Pac-12 road win with a 4-1 victory over host Washington. Once again, the Trojans claimed the doubles point with two decisive decisions — this time from courts one and three — and then collected the necessary three singles wins to secure the Pac-12 victory. Claiming the clincher for the team-best fifth time this season was freshman Ryan Colby, whose straight-set win from court four sealed the deal.
BY THE NUMBERS
USC's winningest player to date is junior Stefan Dostanic, who has churned out 32 singles wins while riding a 14-match win streak. Five other Trojans now join him with double-digit wins on the singles side, with freshman Peter Makk holding 19 wins, senior Bradley Frye at 16, freshman Ryan Colby and sophomore Lodewijk Weststrate with 15 each, followed by junior Ryder Jackson with 11. In doubles, #17 Dostanic/Frye have played the most matches together and boast the most wins with their 19-8 record together to date, thanks in part to the duo's current seven-match win streak.
THIS IS 30
After going undefeated in singles and doubles across three dual matches, junior Stefan Dostanic scored his 30th singles win and secured his second career selection as Pac-12 Men's Tennis Player of the Week. Paired with partner Bradley Frye at the No. 1 position in doubles, Dostanic collected two decisive wins and one tiebreaker victory for a 3-0 effort in doubles. And on court one in singles, the now-No. 6 ranked player in the nation beat two ranked opponents in straight sets and claimed a three-set comeback victory as well to extend his singles win streak out to 12 in a row. Dostanic became the second Trojan to be named Pac-12 Player of the Week this season, joining freshman Peter Makk's pick on Feb. 22. Dostanic's first such honor came last season.
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. Now ranked No. 46 in the nation in singles, Makk boasts the second most singles wins on the team to date with his 17-8 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.
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. •