No. 2 USC (18-4, 4-0) exerted its dominance against the No. 65 Ducks and No. 20 Huskies, remaining undefeated in Pac-10 play this season. It was a consistent effort from top to bottom.
Continuing with the new doubles lineup, senior Jaak Poldma and sophomore J.T. Sundling paired together at No. 1 while freshman Emilio Gomez and junior Steve Johnson and freshman Ray Sarmiento and junior Daniel Nguyen played at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots.
“It’s been really cohesive with Jaak [Poldma] and J.T. [Sundling] at one,” Nguyen said. “Stevie [Johnson] is an unbelievable doubles player, and with Ray [Sarmiento] and me, we just sort of stepped up and dominated.”
Poldma and Sundling defeated Oregon’s Robin Cambier and Alex Rovello, and Washington’s Kyle McMorrow and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, 8-6. Johnson and Gomez took 8-2 and 8-7 wins against the Ducks and Huskies, respectively. Nguyen and Sarmiento grabbed 8-1 and 8-3 wins, and Nguyen was not shy in praising his doubles counterpart.
“I think we work well together and complement each other,” Nguyen said.
Neither the Ducks nor the Huskies caused any serious panic for the Trojans, who came out as the dominant team both days. Though glimpses of frustration could be seen at times, each player bounced back to pocket the wins.
“It was a little rough in the beginning,” Nguyen said of his match against the Ducks’ Cambier. “He was really feisty and in my face. It felt good to pull out a tough win.”
Johnson and Poldma won both of their singles matches to stay undefeated on the season.
Sarmiento, Gomez and freshman Michael Grant filled out the singles roster at the No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 spots. On both days, Sarmiento and Gomez won in straight sets, while Grant took it to three sets and a tie-breaker against Oregon and Washington, respectively, to eventually snag two victories.
As has been the case this season, singles play was much easier for the Trojans, who only have three regular season matches before the Pac-10 tournament. As the post-season approaches, USC knows that there is still work to be done, and it is willing to do it.
“We need to keep working on doubles,” Nguyen said. “We’ve proven that our singles is strong, so what will differentiate us from the others is gaining confidence in doubles.”