Though the Trojans have blazed through the season without a single loss, their last match of the regular season holds the most importance.
The No. 1 Trojans (25-0, 6-0) will battle crosstown rivals No. 5 UCLA (20-2, 6-0) at Marks Tennis Stadium on Friday at 3 p.m. in the regular season finale that will determine who stands atop the Pac-12 Conference.
USC has amassed 45 consecutive wins since last February. In conference play, the Trojans have given up just four combined points to six total opponents, including the likes of No. 12 California and No. 11 Stanford.
“We’ve beaten a lot of good teams in the Pac-12, but UCLA is going to be our toughest matchup,” senior Daniel Nguyen said.
The Bruins have a lesser streak at nine in a row but have shown their mettle after posting a sweep over Cal on Saturday and a 6-1 win over Stanford the day after.
With both teams boasting perfect conference records, the winner will earn the top seed in the conference tournament, which begins Thursday.
As the final home match of the season, the contest will also serve as USC’s Senior Day, honoring seniors Ben Lankenau, Steve Johnson and Nguyen.
“It’s going to be a special moment. Against UCLA, for our Senior Day — it’ll leave a big impression,” Nguyen said. “It’ll be a crazy crowd, and I’m looking forward to the match.”
Nguyen and Johnson are ranked No. 17 and No. 2 in singles, respectively. Johnson currently leads the squad with 57 consecutive singles wins, a streak that began last January.
Right behind the two seniors are No. 23 sophomore Ray Sarmiento, No. 43 freshman Yannick Hanfmann, No. 50 sophomore Emilio Gomez and freshman Roberto Quiroz.
In doubles, USC will feature No. 3 pair Johnson and Quiroz and No. 25 pair Nguyen and Sarmiento. None of USC’s three doubles pairs have dropped a game since March 15.
On the other end, No. 21 Nick Meister, No. 61 Adrien Puget, No. 78 Clay Thompson and No. 86 Marcos Giron comprise the four ranked Bruins in singles. UCLA will also feature No. 41 duo Alex Brigham and Puget in doubles.
In their last matchup in February, USC came out on top 6-1 at the Los Angeles Tennis Center in a nonconference match. The Trojans are careful, however, not to let past results affect their mindset and gameplay.
“They’re a great team on any given day. We’ve fought battles with these guys in the past, and nothing comes easy,” Johnson said.
USC has not given up more than two points in a match since a 4-3 win over No. 3 Ohio State in February, but Johnson insists that the team’s focus remains more on the win and less on the numbers.
“I’m just hoping for a win. It would be something special to go out and sweep those guys,” Johnson said. “But they’re going to come ready to play, and they’re not going to mess around.”