USC bounces back after two match losses
The USC menâs tennis team proved they were only human this weekend, as they came home with consecutive losses since 2008.
Making the trip to Seattle for the ITA National Indoors Championship was a slightly makeshift lineup, as senior Peter Lucassen stayed back due to injury, and was replaced by sophomore Corey Smith.
Even during the weekendâs matches, the Trojans (8-2) couldnât manage to leave with all their players healthy.
Freshman Ray Sarmiento had to pull out against Dukeâs Fred Saba after being down 6-4, 4-2, because of injury.
âHeâs had a bad shoulder and he hasnât really taken proper care of it,â said USC coach Peter Smith. âIt spread to his elbow and wrist, and right now itâs his wrist, so heâs playing catch up. Heâs got to get better.â
Despite not being at full strength and walking away empty-handed at the tournament, the coaching staff is confident the team will be fine once everybody is healthy.
âWe proved that we are missing one-third of our starting lineup, and we were one point away from being in the semifinals of the tournament â to me, thatâs a great sign for the team,â Smith said. âDuke was in the semifinals, and so you have to think that when we get our team right, weâll be right there.â
In its first matchup, No. 2 USC got edged by No. 15 Duke 4-3, and the Blue Devils proved to once again be a thorn in the teamâs backside.
With Sarmiento out, the doubles lineup shifted to junior Daniel Nguyen and freshman Emilio Gomez at the No. 1 spot, sophomore J.T. Sundling and senior Jaak Poldma at No. 2 and junior Steve Johnson and freshman Michael Grant at No. 3.
The second day didnât prove to be any easier as USC lost 4-3 â this time, it was to a fellow Pac-10 team in No. 7 Stanford.
Still, USC bounced back to win decisively, 4-0 against No. 12 Louisville in its last match.
âWe fought hard against Duke and Stanford, and itâs early in the season but itâs kind of a good test to see how we can do,â Johnson said. âAfter losing twice 4-3, to come back the third day, show some resiliency, come back and win decisively is big.â
Losing isnât something the Trojans are used to, but it is something that the team can grow from.
âI donât like to lose,â Smith said. â[But] if losing is progressing, then thatâs okay. Weâre better off having played these matches, win or lose.â
Doubles play was looking stronger for USC this weekend, as the team won two of three of its matches against Duke and Stanford, and went on to sweep Louisville.
â[Poldma] and [Sundling] really had a great weekend,â Smith said. âThey played really well and youâve got to make do when you have fewer people.â
The Trojans come home for the week to host Cal and Stanford on Friday and Saturday atÂ Marks Stadium.
âWe knew this was going to be a tough tournament playing the top 16 teams,â Johnson said. â[Itâll] be good to play a new team, get ready and have a big rematch against Stanford. [We] definitely donât want to lose to them again, especially on our home courts, so weâll come out and be ready to play.â