With the regular season and the Pac-12 championships in the books, the USC men’s and women’s tennis teams are poised to capitalize on two relatively successful years by making deep runs in the 2013 NCAA championships.
The USC men’s squad (23-4) is accustomed to going into the tournament as the favorites. This time around, the Trojans are seeded at the No. 4 slot as they look to take an unprecedented fifth consecutive NCAA championship.
The Women of Troy (21-2), fresh off their second-straight Pac-12 team title, will have the No. 5 seed in the women’s bracket after reaching the semifinals last year.
Both teams have the luxury of beginning the tournament at home and will host first- and second-round matchups at Marks Stadium from May 10-12.
The Trojans and the Women of Troy will each face Sacramento State on day one. The action begins for the men at 11 a.m. on May 10 while the women kick off a day later at noon.
A victory for the Trojans will set up a second-round matchup against the winner of San Diego and Alabama, teams both coached by former USC assistants, while the Women of Troy will face either UC Irvine or San Jose State if they advance.
Two wins for either the men or the women will book a ticket to the Round of 16 at the Atkins Tennis Center/Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Urbana, Ill.
USC head coach Peter Smith and the Trojans aim to make a strong push with seven men ranked in the top-100 International Tennis Association singles rankings.
Former Trojans Steve Johnson and Daniel Nguyen have been staples of the Trojans’ last four championships, but now that both have graduated, No. 4 junior Emilio Gomez and No. 17 junior Ray Sarmiento have stepped up to lead a young roster consisting of only juniors, sophomores and freshmen.
Standing alongside the two are No. 34 sophomore Roberto Quiroz, No. 65 sophomore Yannick Hanfmann, No. 80 sophomore Eric Johnson, No. 93 sophomore Jonny Wang and No. 94 junior Michael Grant.
For the Women of Troy, five players are ranked in singles, including No. 2 sophomore Sabrina Santamaria, No. 9 senior Danielle Lao, No. 32 sophomore Zoë Scandalis, No. 76 sophomore Gabriella DeSimone and No. 112 sophomore Giuliana Olmos.
The women’s team also features the two-time Pac-12 doubles champions in Santamaria and junior Kaitlyn Christian, who are ranked No. 2 in doubles together.
With 13 consecutive wins behind them, the Women of Troy and USC head coach Richard Gallien have momentum on their side. The team hopes to ride the hot streaks of Santamaria and Christian, who have won 21 and 13 straight in singles, respectively, and 30 straight in doubles as a pair.
The men’s team is coming off of a 4-2 loss to No. 1 UCLA in the Pac-12 title game on April 27, but have won 11 of their last 13 matches. Three of the Trojans’ losses this season have come at the hands of the Bruins, who hold the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
California, Stanford and Washington have also been invited to the men’s tournament, while Arizona, California, Stanford and UCLA have received bids to the women’s tournament.