With the end of its regular season less than a week away, the No. 2 USC men’s tennis team, will look to close out its home schedule as it hosts UC Irvine at Marks Tennis Stadium today at 3 p.m.
As the Trojans’ (19-2, 5-0) Pac-10 schedule winds down with USC just a win away from clinching the conference title, the team is pleased with how its season has gone.
“Overall we’re right where we want to be, ranked in the top four,” said senior captain Jaak Poldma.
Before reaching such heights, however, the Trojans must contend with an Anteaters team that is surging after a convincing 5-2 win over Pacific and a 7-0 sweep of UC Davis — advancing to 4-0 in the Big West conference.
In preparation for its upcoming match, the team has been doing the same thing it has done all season long, practicing hard and working to stay healthy, especially with the Pac-10 championships and NCAA tournament on the horizon.
Yet although talk of a possible third consecutive national championship hasn’t subsided, the Trojans insist they haven’t lost their mental edge.
“Every match counts, and as its coming to an end, we want to go out on top,” Poldma said.
With Poldma and fellow senior Peter Lucassen, who was named Pac-10 Player of the Week last week, graduating this spring, it is important for the group’s younger players to perform well down the stretch, solidifying an already strong lineup from No. 1 to No. 6.
Poldma said he has been impressed with the younger players’ performances.
“[Freshman] Ray [Sarmiento] has a great record and he keeps getting better and better,” Poldma said. “He quickly adjusted to [college competition]. [Freshman] Michael [Grant] is now consistently at the six spot and has stepped up, and [freshman] Emilio [Gomez] is really good as well.”
Sarmiento leads the freshmen playing at No. 4, with Gomez and Grant at the No. 5 and No. 6 spots. Sarmiento has won every match he has not retired from because of injury.