No. 13 USC Men’s Tennis Is Off To Ojai For Pac-12 Tournament Action
No. 13 USC has secured the No. 2 seed for the coming Pac-12 Tournament, which is set to run April 20-23 at Libbey Park in Ojai, Calif. The Trojans (18-5) open up with a 3 p.m. Pac-12 quarterfinal bout against California on Thursday (April 21). A win there would push USC into a semifinal against either Stanford or Arizona State at 4 p.m. on Friday (April 22), with the Pac-12 title match held at 3 p.m. on Saturday (April 23). The championship match will be televised on Pac-12 Network.
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 20), USC stands at No. 13 in the land. Individual rankings also were released on April 20, with three Trojans currently ranked in singles. Junior Stefan Dostanic is standing tall at #5 in the nation. He is joined by #56 Peter Makk and #117 Lodewijk Weststrate on the list. In doubles, USC has Dostanic and Frye now standing at #5 in the land.
The Pac-12 Tournament returns to Ojai, Calif., after being set in San Diego last year. The tourney will determine the automatic qualifier for the coming 2022 NCAA Men's Championship. Teams are seeded based on won-lost percentages during regular-season conference play. A play-in match between Washington and Oregon will be held on Wednesday (April 20) before four quarterfinal matches take place on Thursday (April 21). Top-seeded Arizona will take on the winner of that Oregon-Washington match; No. 4 seed Utah faces No. 5 seed UCLA; No. 3 seed Stanford plays No. 6 seed Arizona State; and the No. 2 seeded Trojans face No. 7 seed California. Semifinals are set for 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday (April 22). All men's tournament matches will be played at Libbey Park, culminating with the team championship at 3 p.m. on Saturday (April 23). Thursday and Friday matches will be streamed at pac-12.com/live, and Saturday's championship match will air on Pac-12 Networks.
TROJANS AT PAC-12 TOURNEYS
Since the team event began in 2012, USC has won five Pac-12 Tournament titles — 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021 — and has reached the final every year but 2016. USC has faced UCLA five times in the title match, winning twice (2012 and 2017). In 2015, USC beat Stanford in the final, topped Cal in the 2019 title match and took down Arizona State to win the 2021 trophy. The 2020 tournament was not held due to the coronavirus pandemic.
USC worked its way to its second straight Pac-12 Tournament title after a strong showing in the tournament's first appearance in San Diego. The No. 3 seed in the 2021 tourney, USC cruised past No. 6 seeded Oregon 4-1 in the quarterfinals to get to the semifinals for the ninth consecutive time. Against the Ducks, USC snagged a speedy doubles point and then pressed on to claim three straight-set singes victories on wins from Lodewijk Weststrate, Stefan Dostanic and Daniel Cukierman. In the semis vs. No. 2 seed Arizona, avenging an earlier loss to the Wildcats in Tucson. Again, the Trojans whipped up the doubles point and then saw Cukierman and Dostanic register singles wins before Bradley Frye came through with the clincher. In the title match for the eighth time, USC saw the doubles point slip, but regrouped in singles and had the bottom of its lineup surge to straight-set wins with Dostanic victorious again in picking up the clincher to get USC the title, the ticket to NCAA action and another 20-win season.
USC extended its win streak out to seven matches strong with a 4-0 home win over No. 22 San Diego and a 4-1 road win at Utah. On Senior Day at Marks Stadium, the Trojans hit the gas and put the visiting Toreros out of commission in taking the doubles point and tacking up straight-set singles wins to notch a 4-0 victory. In singles, the teams split first sets, with the Trojans claiming opening sets on courts two, three and four. That Trojan trio would stay the course, each hauling in straight-set victories to lock up the shutout win for USC. Hitting the finish line first was freshman Ryan Colby, who stacked up a 6-4, 6-3 win over Iiro Vasa on court four to make it 2-0 Trojans. At the No. 3 spot, #49 Peter Makk hammered out a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Sacchitt Sharrma to set his Trojans up for a clincher. That would come care of Bradley Frye, who dispatched Gui Osorio 7-5, 6-2 from court two to put a stop to things with USC's 4-0 scoreline. That suspended play on the remaining three courts, including a tense three-set battle at the top spot between USC's #4 Stefan Dostanic and San Diego's #5 August Holmgren. Two days later in Salt Lake City, USC secured some momentum for the postseason in snagging its seventh straight win. The Utes didn't make it easy in forcing third sets on three courts, but sophomore Samuel Rubell was undeterred and secured his first clinching win as a Trojan with his 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 victory on court six. After notching two swift doubles wins, USC would go up 2-0 in the match when Dostanic's opponent, Franco Capalbo, retired from their court one match with Dostanic up 6-2, 1-0. Trojans had won the first sets on five courts, but Utah was making some noise in second sets, forcing third sets on three courts. On court five, #99 Lodewijk Weststrate collected his fourth straight win and made it 3-0 Trojans with a 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over Mathias Gavelin. The hosts got on the board when Francisco Bastias upended Bradley Frye with a 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 comeback decision that got the score to 3-1. USC had a speedy reply, though, with Rubell coming through in the clutch for the clincher as he beat Bruno Krenn 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 to net the 4-1 win for the Trojans.
BY THE NUMBERS
USC's winningest player to date continues to be junior Stefan Dostanic, who has churned out 34 singles wins while riding a 16-match win streak. Five other Trojans now join him with double-digit wins on the singles side, with freshman Peter Makk holding 21 wins, senior Bradley Frye, freshman Ryan Colby and sophomore Lodewijk Weststrate with 17 each, and junior Ryder Jackson with 11. In doubles, Dostanic/Frye have played the most matches together and boast the most wins with their 21-9 record together to date.
STEF SCORES AGAIN
As USC closed down the regular season with a seven-match win streak, junior Stefan Dostanic secured another set of Pac-12 Player of the Week honors, earning his second selection of the season and third of his career on April. 19. Dostanic's singles win count now sits at 34 — the most in a season by a Trojan since 2018-19 — as he and the Trojans set up for the coming Pac-12 Tournament this week. Last week, Dostanic snagged two doubles wins over ranked pairs to help power up the Trojans to a 4-0 home win over San Diego and a 4-1 road win at Utah. Alongside teammate Bradley Frye, the #12-ranked Trojan tandem beat USD's #9 Holmgren/Osorio 6-2. In singles, the #4 Dostanic would go on to force a third set against USD's #5 August Holmgren before the match was clinched at 4-0. In Utah, Dostanic and Frye dispatched the Utes' #33 Capalbo/Espin 6-4 before Dostanic got his 34th singles win of the season on a retirement by Utah's Franco Capalbo on court one. Dostanic now has recorded wins in 16 straight singles matches.
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. 52 in the nation in singles, Makk boasts the second most singles wins on the team to date with his 20-11 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. •