Amidst its 41-match win streak, the USC men’s tennis team will continue Pac-12 play this weekend with its final two road matches of the regular season.
The No. 1 Trojans (21-0, 2-0) will first take on Utah (11-7, 0-2) Friday at 1:30 p.m. before paying a visit to Arizona (5-12, 0-2) Saturday at noon in USC’s third and fourth consecutive road matches, respectively.
After kicking off conference play with two sweeps at Washington and Oregon last weekend, the undefeated Trojans continued their longstanding streak dating back to last February.
USC senior Steve Johnson, ranked No. 2 in the nation, has amassed 53 consecutive single wins since last January, while the more recent streaks of No. 13 senior Daniel Nguyen and freshman Roberto Quiroz stand at 12 and 10, respectively.
No. 23 sophomore Ray Sarmiento, who was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second time this season, is 29-8 overall in singles.
The Trojans have two more ranked players in No. 38 freshman Yannick Hanfmann and No. 53 Emilio Gomez, who have a combined 31-5 record in dual match singles.
USC also features two ranked doubles pairs. No. 15 Johnson and Quiroz have seven straight doubles victories together, while No. 18 Nguyen and Sarmiento have five consecutive wins together.
Neither the Utes nor the Wildcats have any players nationally ranked in singles or doubles, and both squads have yet to win a conference match.
USC coach Peter Smith, who collected his 200th win in the 7-0 victory over Oregon on Saturday, says that a couple of seventh men, like freshmen Eric Johnson and Jordi Vives, could see some court action in the next two matches.
“I’m always looking to get the whole team involved,” Smith said. “It’s all about keeping this fresh for everyone and keeping everyone feeling a part of it and challenged.”
The Trojans have not relinquished more than two points in a match since Feb. 20, when they defeated No. 3 Ohio State 4-3 in the finals of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Indoor Championships.
Against the unranked Utes and Wildcats, the Trojans look to continue their sweeping victories before concluding Pac-12 play against No. 12 California, No. 11 Stanford and No. 5 UCLA.
“You always want to win top to bottom and win in a big fashion and win quick,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely going to be motivation for the guys, and we’ll all hopefully improve on what we did [last] weekend.”
With only five regular season matches left before postseason play begins, the Trojans have a simple agenda.
“Just get better every day,” Johnson said. “That’s what the guys have done so far and that’s what we plan on doing now. Just get better every single day and work harder, and get ready for Athens.”
Athens, Ga., will be the site of the NCAA championships, where USC hopes to capture its fourth consecutive NCAA title in May.
Before embarking on the postseason, the Trojans look to conclude conference play on a strong note as they continue to build their momentum for a historic championship run.