USC announced Wednesday that members of the school’s men’s and women’s tennis teams will represent the United States in the 27th World University Games in Kazan, Russia, from July 6-17.
USC men’s tennis head coach Peter Smith, men’s assistant coach Krzysztof Kwinta and women’s associate coach West Nott will helm the national team, which is composed entirely of USC players.
The USC men’s and women’s tennis teams are two of the best collegiate tennis teams in the nation. The men’s side is the four-time defending NCAA champion and is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The Women of Troy are also a highly regarded tennis program, currently ranked No. 5 in the nation by the ITA.
The men’s side will send junior co-captains Ray Sarmiento and Michael Grant, as well as sophomores Eric Johnson and Jonny Wang. Each member of the men’s side is ranked by the ITA, with Sarmiento ranked No. 14 in the nation, Johnson ranked No. 65, Wang ranked No. 96 and Grant ranked No. 101.
Sarmiento, who was also recently named Pac-12 player of the week for his efforts in a sweep of Washington and Oregon on the weekend, was initially planning to participate in professional events this summer but put those plans on hold for the World University Games.
“When coach asked me about playing in Russia, I could not turn down competing in Russia and representing USC and my country,” Sarmiento said. “It will be awesome.”
For other players, going to Russia is a chance to broaden horizons on a personal level.
“It’s a real privilege to represent both USC and the United States,” Wang said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the wide variety of different people and cultures in Kazan.”
The women’s side will send junior Kaitlyn Christian, sophomores Sabrina Santamaria and Gabriella DeSimone, and freshman Ellie Yates. Santamaria is ranked No. 2 in the nation in the ITA women’s singles rankings, while teammate DeSimone is ranked No. 75.
Both the men’s and women’s teams wrap up their regular seasons against crosstown rival UCLA. The women play today at Marks Stadium, while the men play on Friday in Westwood, Calif.
Following the conclusion of the regular season, the Pac-12 men’s and women’s championship tournament will take place in Ojai, Calif. The men’s Pac-12 championship will begin on April 23, with the women’s championship starting on April 25.
Following the conference tournaments, the NCAA team championships will be held in Urbana, Ill. The men’s tournament is slated to begin May 16, and the Trojans will be gunning for their fifth consecutive national championship. The women’s team championships will start on May 17. Both the men’s and women’s NCAA individual championships will begin on May 22.
The World University Games (termed “Universiades,” a portmanteau of the words “university” and “Olympiad”) have existed in various forms since 1923, when the inaugural international collegiate event was held in Paris, France.
The United States leads in gold medals and total medals at the event, with 443 and 1155, respectively. In the 2011 Universiades, South Korea took home the gold medal, while USA was not among competitors in the tournament field.