Top-ranked Trojans take rain-filled weekend series

The only thing that could stop USC men’s tennis in its doubleheader last weekend was the weather.

After the rain postponed No. 1 USC’s matchups against Loyola Marymount and UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, the Trojans dispatched both teams in 7-0 sweeps a day later at Marks Stadium to begin the spring dual-match season undefeated at 2-0.

Sweep · Sophomore Ray Sarmiento and the No. 1 USC men’s tennis team began their spring dual-match season by sweeping both Loyola Marymount and UC Santa Barbara last weekend at home. - Mannat Saini | Daily Trojan

Three pairs of Trojans swept the doubles field against UCSB, including another 8-0 shutout by freshman Yannick Hanfmann, this time joining Jordi Vives to oust the Gaucho’s Ben Recknagel and Ziad Sultan.

“We had five guys play matches today that have never played [collegiately]. Yannick was an extreme — he didn’t lose a game in doubles,” USC coach Peter Smith said. “That’s pretty hard to be perfect.”

Senior Daniel Nguyen earned the team’s first single point against UCSB with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Mathieu Forget. He began both sets by breaking Forget, who fell victim to several shutout games in the match.

Nguyen’s win was promptly followed by another 6-0, 6-1 victory by USC freshman Jonny Wang over Alexander Gryaznov. Sophomore Emilio Gomez then guaranteed USC’s win by beating Greg Scott 6-1, 6-2 for the Trojan’s third singles point.

Freshman Eric Johnson, freshman Roberto Quiroz and sophomore Ray Sarmiento emerged victorious in their matches to finalize USC’s sweep over UCSB.

USC senior Steve Johnson, the reigning 2011 NCAA Singles Champion, was slated to play on Saturday and to leave for the 2012 Honolulu Challenger tournament a day later, but the rain delay prevented him from joining the Trojans in their wins.

Despite Johnson’s absence, Smith lauded the team’s efforts for its strong performance.

“We weren’t taking points off, we weren’t taking shots off and we went after it,” Smith said. “We did some really good things today, and it’s a great sign for our team.”

The first doubles victory of USC’s season came at the hands of No. 33 Hanfmann and Vives, who quickly swept their opponents 8-0. Shortly after, No. 18 Nguyen and No. 12 Sarmiento sealed the doubles point for USC with an 8-3 victory.

In court one of singles play, Gomez maintained his strong play from doubles, smashing a rocket serve that LMU’s Alex Wilton could not control to win USC’s first set of the season 6-1. He began the second set by breaking Wilton to control the tempo early, leading to his 6-1, 6-1 victory.

“I just wanted to keep the energy up from doubles,” Gomez said. “I was very relaxed, which was a big key for my game.”

Next, Hanfmann shut out Nicholas Bjerke in the final game of the second set to earn a 6-3, 6-3 victory. USC freshman Johnson then bested Felix Van Kann 6-2, 6-4 to push the team score to 4-0, clinching USC’s win over Loyola Marymount.

Sophomore Corey Smith, Quiroz and Vives also defeated their opponents to round out the 7-0 USC win.

Gomez, ranked No. 48 in Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, led the charge with two singles and two doubles wins in both matches.

“[Gomez] is becoming a real go-to guy for our team — not just in matches, but in practice,” Smith said. He’s got the heart and soul of our team with his work ethic.”

The Trojans now have a week of rest before hosting UNLV, UNC Wilmington and South Florida in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Saturday and Sunday at Marks Stadium.

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