Following an impressive 3-0 start to kick off the season, the No. 2 USC men’s tennis team will host the ITA Kick-Off Weekend today at Marks Stadium, looking to build off its latest victory over Florida State.
Although Wednesday’s win over the Seminoles wasn’t seamless, the Trojans managed to finish the match with a decisive 6-1 victory, leaving them undefeated and serving a visiting Florida State team its first loss of the season.
As a result of the team’s strong start, junior Steve Johnson, among others, remains optimistic about the team’s performance, noting that the tournament will be a good time for the Trojans to continue to put their top-notch talent on display.
“Hopefully this weekend will be a good lineup, so that we can show people what our full lineup is like,” Johnson said.
Returning for USC Friday is senior Peter Lucassen, a welcome veteran who is expected to add championship experience to an already seasoned group.
“Peter [Lucassen] will be back and ready, which will be good for us,” Johnson said.
In the aftermath of an impressive performance against Florida State, freshman Ray Sarmiento remains aware of the team’s high-expectations, even as one of the team’s younger players.
When asked whether the pressure becomes a distraction or a mental difficulty, Sarmiento remained adamant that all the talk is actually inspirational and exciting.
“We welcome it and enjoy it,” Sarmiento said. “[You have to] take one match at a time, keep doing the right things and it’ll happen.”
The Trojans could, however, improve their doubles play, but the young freshman insists it will come in due time.
“Doubles has been a little more difficult, because there are so many players that can play with each other, so as the season goes on and the lineups become more solid, we’ll be more comfortable,” Sarmiento said.
This doubles versatility might be a testament to USC’s undeniable camaraderie, one that could serve as an asset in the long haul.
“[The team support] is very important, since [tennis] is an individual sport,” Sarmiento said. “It helps when your teammates are supporting you, and it’s nice to have the coaches by your side.”
San Diego State is coming off a 7-0 win at their Aztec Winter Invite, while BYU and Indiana enter the tournament with .500 records. The Trojans played the Aztecs in 2010 preseason and won the match 7-0.
The two-day tournament begins today at 10 a.m. and goes into Saturday, with BYU and Indiana set to start play.