The USC men’s tennis team (13-2) made quick work of the University of San Diego Toreros (6-3) on Thursday as they came away with a 6-1 victory in San Diego. The Trojans are now 5-1 away from Marks Stadium this season.
The Toreros, ranked No. 36 in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, had a tough time against the lineup of the No. 2-ranked Trojans. It was business as usual for USC, which was coming off a tough loss to UCLA last Friday, but recovered nicely by starting strong and securing the doubles point.
USC head coach Peter Smith switched up the doubles teams in anticipation of the match by pairing sophomore Roberto Quiroz and junior Emilio Gomez at the No. 2 doubles position and the newly formed tandem of freshman Max de Vroome and sophomore Eric Johnson at No. 3.
The two newly formed pairs responded to the changes by absolutely vanquishing their opponents. Cousins Gomez and Quiroz secured an 8-2 victory over the team of freshman Romain Kalaydjian and sophomore Victor Pugliese, and de Vroome and Johnson cruised to an 8-1 rout of sophomores Andrew Carlisle and Ciaran Fitzgerald.
“I love how we played in doubles today — the energy was really good,” Smith said.
The way the Trojans handled their opponents in singles play wasn’t much different.
Sophomore Jonny Wang, ranked No. 119 in the nation by the ITA, flew out of the gate at the No. 6 position and was the first to wrap up his match, defeating sophomore Andrew Carlisle in straight sets 6-0, 6-1. Afterward, Wang noted that despite being in picturesque San Diego with pleasant, warmer-than-usual weather, the Trojans “gave it [their] all and didn’t take anything for granted.”
In singles play, junior Ray Sarmiento, ranked No. 14 in the nation, dispatched Toreros’ Kalaydjian in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3.
No. 5-position Max de Vroome returned to form after his tough outing last week against UCLA.
“The match went fine … [the] courts were really slow so I think everybody had some trouble with that,” de Vroome said. “I played OK. [I] started really strong [and] aggressive and didn’t give him much time to do anything.”
In the second set, de Vroome was serving for the match at 5-3, but lost the game because of some unforced errors. De Vroome would go on to recover and finish the match out for a 6-2, 7-5 victory.
Smith also noted that the courts played slower than expected.
“Every court’s different,” Smith said. “It’s a different challenge — the courts were really slow and it affected the way we played.”
When asked if the memories of last Friday’s match were erased completely, Smith had no doubts of his team’s mental toughness and ability to recover.
“Definitely,” Smith said. “The best thing to do is to just go out and compete again.”
Thursday’s match wasn’t all good news for the Trojans, however. Sophomore Yannick Hanfmann sat out all week with a knee injury that has plagued him from the start of the season.
“[Hanfmann]’s knee has really been bothering him ever since the UCLA match,” Smith said.
It would not be evident from the score, as Hanfmann won his match last week, including a bagel in the final set, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0. Regardless, Hanfmann is resting for the Trojans’ trip to San Diego.
The Trojans continue their mini-trip in La Jolla for the United States Tennis Association’s Pacific Coast Doubles tournament from Feb. 28 to Mar. 3. In an interesting wrinkle attributed to the Pacific Doubles championships’ open-registration policy, Sarmiento, who usually pairs with Hanfmann in doubles, will be partnering with volunteer assistant coach Peter Lucassen for the tournament. Lucassen, 24, hails from the Netherlands and was once ranked as high as No. 541 by the Association of Tennis Professionals before becoming inactive to take up his current post as volunteer assistant coach of the Trojans.
Lucassen and Sarmiento, as well as the newly formed doubles teams in Gomez and Quiroz and de Vroome and Johnson, will get additional time to adjust to one another as they face off against top-ranked representatives from Cal, Pepperdine, Stanford and UCLA.