USC’s men’s and women’s tennis teams put their talents on exhibition at their first tournaments this past week, and made it clear that their offseason training has prepared them for success.
Members of the men’s squad traveled to Tulsa, Okla. to compete in the ITA All-American Championships, which was full of surprises for the Trojans.
Junior Jonny Wang and senior Michael Grant fought their way through the qualifying rounds to secure themselves spots in the main draw of the tournament. They quickly proved their worth by pulling off shocking upsets in the first round.
No. 63 Wang bounced back from a first-set loss to conquer the No. 3 player in the country, Ohio State’s Peter Kobelt, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3. Meanwhile, No. 80 Grant defeated No. 4 Ryan Lipman of Vanderbilt 7-5, 4-3, as Lipman was forced to retire with a hip injury.
These might have been the biggest wins of these Trojans’ careers so far, and Wang said the players’ mentality played a major role in the wins.
“I think belief was a huge factor,” Wang said. “I feel that as the match progressed, I believed that I could break his serve and win the match.”
Junior Roberto Quiroz, ranked No. 25 in the nation, also upset No. 12 Japie de Klerk from the University of Tulsa in the first round, with a score of 6-3, 6-1.
All three Trojans fell in the next round, but they showed great potential in taking down their higher-ranked opponents.
“Incredible effort by the guys. Great sign for the season,” the team’s official account tweeted.
Senior Ray Sarmiento, ranked No. 8 in the nation, advanced one round further than his teammates, earning a spot in the Round of 16. There he faced No. 17 Jared Hiltzik of Illinois, and was defeated, 6-2, 6-2.
Sarmiento reached the Round of 16 in last year’s ITA All-American Championships as well.
“I feel really good about my game going forward and into the season,” Sarmiento said. “As a team we had a couple good wins and hopefully these guys can build off of that, looks very positive the rest of the fall.”
Only one doubles team suited up for the tournament: Wang and sophomore Max de Vroome. The tandem enjoyed a first-round bye, but lost in the second qualifying round.
Freshmen Rob Bellamy and Nick Crystal traveled to San Diego for the weekend to compete in the Aztec Invitational. They impressed in their college debuts, as Bellamy captured the singles title and the duo earned the doubles championship together.
The women’s team also put on a show in doubles this weekend.
Surprisingly, though, it was not USC’s decorated duo of senior Kaitlyn Christian and junior Sabrina Santamaria who made a deep run in the women’s tournament. Rather, juniors Zoë Scandalis and Giuliana Olmos, who are ranked No. 54 in the nation together, advanced to the finals of the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
The duo started off in the qualifying rounds and defeated seven teams to earn a spot in the finals, in which they fell 6-4, 6-2 to UCLA’s No. 20 Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady.
Scandalis, who is ranked No. 17 in the nation in singles, was the only player to compete in the main draw on the singles side, but was bested in the first round by Texas A&M’s No. 48 Cristina Sancu.
Next up for the men’s team is the Battle of the Bay Classic in San Francisco from Oct. 11 to 13. The women will rest up and prepare for the ITA Southwest Regional Championships from Oct. 17-21 in San Diego.
Follow Aubrey on Twitter @aubreykragen