While the rest of the sports world had its sights set on Super Bowl XLVII, the USC men’s tennis team had its own match to focus on. But despite the distractions, the Trojans, currently ranked No. 2 in the country, took down the San Francisco Dons and the Loyola Marymount Lions in a double-header at Marks Stadium.
The team’s first match began at 11 a.m., but the early start didn’t affect the Trojans (7-0), as they came out of the gate with strong doubles victories against the Dons. Junior Ray Sarmiento and sophomore Yannick Hanfmann cruised past their opponents with an 8-0 victory; freshman Max de Vroome and sophomore Roberto Quiroz followed suit, defeating their USF opponents 8-4. Their victory secured USC the doubles point, so the No. 3 doubles match, which featured sophomore Eric Johnson and junior Emilio Gomez, was suspended at 5-5.
The Trojans carried their momentum into singles play, winning all but one set to secure the victory over USF. Gomez, who is ranked No. 27 in the country, won 6-2, 3-0, as his opponent was forced to retire. Quiroz, who is ranked No. 24, crushed William Schumacher 6-1, 6-1, and junior Michael Grant clinched a victory for USC with a 6-2, 6-2 handling of Germain Bahri. Though sophomore Jonny Wang, ranked No. 121 by the ITA, fell in a hard-fought match, 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (10-3), his teammates came through to lead USC to a 6-1 overall win against USF.
USC then took a short break before heading back out to face off against LMU. In between matches, the players expressed discontent about the long day, but USC coach Peter Smith said he appreciates how much playing time the doubleheader format allows his team, calling it “the best training possible.”
Once again the Trojans took control of the match early in doubles play. Hanfmann and Sarmiento wrapped up their set, 8-2, and de Vroome and Quiroz won 8-1, securing USC the doubles point. Again, the No. 3 doubles match was suspended with Gomez and Johnson up 4-3.
In singles play, Smith changed the lineup to give Gomez, Quiroz and Johnson a well-deserved break. But even without some of their most talented players, the Trojans easily outplayed the Lions.
Sarmiento was back at the No. 1 spot in singles, where he won convincingly, 6-3, 6-1. Sarmiento has been recovering from a slight abdominal strain suffered in the Sherwood Collegiate Cup, but with his impressive singles and doubles play this weekend, it was clear that the injury was hardly a setback.
“I picked up where I left off,” Sarmiento said. “My feet were under me, and I was moving well, hitting my forehand well and attacking.”
Hanfmann, ranked No. 84 by the ITA, has also been nursing some injuries. Still, he pulled off a cool 6-2, 6-2 win to keep the Trojans on track to defeat LMU. Wang bounced back from his loss in the first match to rout his LMU opponent 6-1, 6-1. Again, de Vroome, ranked No. 78 in the nation, prevailed 6-2, 6-3 over his opponent and Grant guaranteed a USC victory with his 6-2, 6-1 win. Senior Michael Tang, who is in his first season with the team, was defeated 6-1, 6-3, but the rest of the team helped earn USC a 6-1 victory over the Lions.
“I was really happy with how we played,” Smith said to sum up a near-perfect day. “They’re working hard out there and getting better.”
Indeed, the Trojans have a lot to be happy about as they continue their undefeated season. Once the team is back to full health, Smith said the team should have even more success. After ending the weekend with two matches, USC’s next match is on Friday against Cal at Marks Stadium at 1:30 p.m.