No. 12 Pepperdine to host No. 1 Trojans
Following two resounding road wins over No. 6 Stanford and No. 13 California, USC menâs tennis will tackle one more opponent before the ITA National Team Indoor Championships next weekend in Virginia.
No. 1 USC (6-0) will face No. 12 Pepperdine (3-2) in Malibu Friday at 1 p.m. in an attempt to extend its win streak to 26 matches, going back to the teamâs championship run last season.
The Trojans have yet to relinquish a doubles match to any team ranked behind their consistent doubles team. Doubles partners No. 1 senior Steve Johnson and No. 33 freshman Yannick Hanfmann have lost only one doubles match this season.
âYannick and I have really bonded quickly, and the chemistry is there,â Johnson said. âItâs been fun to play with Yannick. Heâs a very talented individual.â
Senior Daniel Nguyen and sophomore Ray Sarmiento, ranked No. 16 and No. 12, respectively, hold a 10â3 doubles record, while No. 48 sophomore Emilio Gomez and freshman Roberto Quiroz stand at 7-1.
âAnything could happen in a pro set, but we feel really comfortable on our courts,â USC coach Peter Smith said. âWe have three great teams. If they beat us in doubles, then congratulations â now they [get] to play us in singles.â
Hanfmann and Sarmiento had their singles streaks broken in the last match against Cal and hope to bounce back with wins against the Waves, who are led by No. 21 junior Sebastian Fanselow and No. 35 junior Finn Tearney.
âI let him dictate the match early on,â Sarmiento said, regarding his three-set loss to Calâs Carlos Cueto. âI only lost by two points in the end, but I need to focus better and start better.â
Other Trojans still look to maintain their singles streaks, such as the reigning NCAA Singles Champion Johnson, who has led USC on the court with eight consecutive wins this season.
Though the Trojans will travel to Malibu looking for a strong victory, Smith hopes the Waves will bring their best to prepare the Trojans for the upcoming ITA Indoors Championships in Virginia from Feb. 17 to 20.
âI hope they have the greatest crowd in the history of crowds,â Smith said. âThatâs why weâre going there â to face as tough of an opponent as possible in as tough of an atmosphere as possible, and thatâs what we want.â