The No. 1 Trojans (18-0) will take on No. 42 Boise State (16-5) today at 3 p.m. at Marks Stadium in USC’s effort to remain undefeated entering conference play, which begins Friday.
Streaking alongside his squad is No. 2 senior Steve Johnson, who remains undefeated in singles this year and has won 51 consecutive singles matches dating to last January.
“[Johnson] is a great example for everyone. We reflect and talk about it all the time — how hungry he is and how motivated he is,” USC coach Peter Smith said. “A lot of that comes with confidence and he’s extremely confident right now.”
Fellow senior Daniel Nguyen, who is ranked No. 16 in singles, is also in a groove with nine straight singles wins.
Besides the two seniors, USC features four other ranked players in singles, including sophomores Ray Sarmiento and Emilio Gomez — ranked No. 24 and No. 41, respectively — and freshmen Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz, ranked No. 30 and No. 121, respectively.
In doubles action, Johnson and Hanfmann comprise the No. 6 duo in the nation, but Smith has recently featured a new combination of Johnson and Quiroz, who have won four in a row together.
“It was actually just an experiment at first, but it’s going pretty well,” Smith said. “We’ll have some very good options down the road.”
Nguyen and Sarmiento, however, have remained a constant pair and stand at No. 21 in the nation with a 17-4 record for the season.
With experience playing beside one another in the fall, Hanfmann and Gomez make up USC’s third pair and have gone 3-1 together in the dual match season.
USC’s 6-1 victory over No. 10 Florida last Monday marked the Trojans’ sixth win over a top-10 opponent.
Although the Trojans will face a weaker opponent in the Broncos, Smith insists there is no place for complacency on his team.
“In anything, if you ever think you’ve made it, you’re done,” Smith said. “You’re always on a journey upwards. Every single guy has a lot of things to work on.”
Boise State, riding an eight-game win streak, features two ranked singles players in No. 48 James Meredith and No. 55 Damian Hume.
The match against the Broncos will be USC’s last home match before kicking off conference play with a four-match road trip.
“It’s always special playing at home, but we’re going to take it like another match and continue to build and improve,” Sarmiento said.
The Trojans claim that their longstanding win streak dating to last February speaks to their high standards as a tennis power seeking their fourth consecutive NCAA championship in May.
“We won three [championships] in a row. This is nothing new to us,” Smith said. “There’s an expectation level here that is unlike any other school in the country.”