Trojans survive rain to best Cal, Stanford

Revenge tasted sweet as the USC men’s tennis team was determined, rain or shine, to bounce back and show No. 8 Stanford that it would not keel under pressure in a dominant 5-1 win Saturday.

Return to action · Freshman Ray Sarmiento came back from injury on to help overtake the same Cardinal team that beat USC last weekend. - Mannat Saini | Daily Trojan

The second of a double-header match went smoothly for the No. 9 Trojans, who were looking to regain their footing after a less-than-perfect ITA Indoor National Championships performance.

USC was slated to play California on Friday, but only made it through half of the singles matches before rain forced the teams to call it quits early.

The Trojans, who started with singles play in anticipation of the rain, looked shaky against the Golden Bears, but their match against Stanford that would prove to be more meaningful.

“From our entire team we were so prepared and confident, it was like we were a completely different team,” said junior Steve Johnson.

During USC’s abbreviated match against the Cardinal on Saturday, freshman Michael Grant was the only Trojan to lose, taking it to three sets against Stanford’s Matt Kandath 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Freshman Ray Sarmiento was back in the lineup, after missing the trip to Seattle and sitting out against Cal due with a wrist injury.

Johnson, as Sarmiento’s doubles partner, was happy to see him back in action.

“He’s a big part of our team,” Johnson said. “He’s a big talent and he gives a big lift to our team.”

Captains Johnson and senior Jaak Poldma, both given Pac-10 Players of the Week honors this season, continued their dominant play, winning against Bradley Klahn and Alex Clayton 6-2, 6-3 and 6-4, 6-1, respectively.

Johnson’s victory marks his second against Klahn this season.

The pair’s overall season record is 2-1.

Freshman Emilio Gomez came out strong against Stanford’s Greg Hirshman, winning 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.

Junior Daniel Nguyen struggled to seal the deal in two sets, but beat his opponent Ryan Thacher in a tiebreak 6-3, 7-6, 10-7. Nguyen played Tacher in the ITA Indoors last weekend but fell, 6-4, 6-4, in the Trojans’ 4-3 loss to the Cardinal.

“We got a big statement win,” Johnson said. “To come out and win 5-1, pretty handily? We bounced back.”

USC will host crosstown rival UCLA on Wednesday.