No. 1 Trojans take home first two conference wins

This weekend, USC’s men’s tennis team picked up its first two Pac-12 wins of the season and secured its eighth straight 20-win season. With a 6-1 win over the No. 27 Oregon Ducks on Friday and another 6-1 win against the Washington Huskies on Saturday, the Trojans (20-2, 2-0) extended their winning streak to 11 consecutive matches.

Team effort · Senior captain Ray Sarmiento dropped back-to-back singles matches this weekend, but the Trojans still earned two victories. - Ralf Cheung | Daily Trojan

Team effort · Senior captain Ray Sarmiento dropped back-to-back singles matches this weekend, but the Trojans still earned two victories. – Ralf Cheung | Daily Trojan

The back-to-back games included plenty of challenges: a long road trip, four different plane rides, indoor matches for both games and no time to relax. Despite the conditions, head coach Peter Smith said the team succeeded because “they were always ready to go.”

The Trojans  put their win streak on the line against the  Ducks (14-3, 0-2), who entered the match having won 11 straight. USC’s power duo — and the nation’s No. 5 pairing — junior Yannick Hanfmann and senior Ray Sarmiento clinched the first win of the day on an 8-3 decision against Oregon’s Robin Cambier and Kevin Farin. Also coming in with a strong doubles win were sophomore Max de Vroome and junior Eric Johnson. The pair went 8-5 over Oregon’s Jayson Amos and Daniel Sardu, clinching the doubles point and securing an early 1-0 lead for the Trojans.

In singles, No. 100 de Vroome completed his match first, netting a 6-2, 6-4 win over Sardu. Johnson finished second, beating Joey Swaysland 6-3, 6-4 bumping up the Trojans to a 3-0 lead. Hanfmann, ranked No. 12 in the nation, faced Farin and won, 6-4, 6-4, to clinch the match for USC.

Oregon’s only chance to put a point on the board was against No. 3 Sarmiento, who played against No. 113 Cambier. Cambier dug himself out of a one-set hole, upsetting Sarmiento with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 score. No. 56 Roberto Quiroz led the Trojans to a strong finish, however, wrapping up his match against Daan Maasland 7-5, 7-5.

Along with the number of conditions the team had to adapt to, Smith once again emphasized challenging the team himself.

“[I’ve been] sitting guys, making other guys play, doing different things,” Smith said. “Being comfortable is great, but adversity makes your grow. Life and sports are the same.”

In Seattle, the reign of Troy continued, as the Trojans secured a 2-0 start in conference play. Against Washington (9-9, 0-2), the Trojans showed their strength in both power plays and versatility, completing near perfect matches in both doubles and singles sets.

In doubles, freshman Nick Crystal and junior Quiroz, a fairly new pairing, pulled off the first win of the day with an 8-3 victory.

“Nick’s been giving us a spark,” Smith said. “He’s super feisty, and most of the time that’s good. He’s been a real surprise.”

Their win was followed by another valiant effort by their teammates — Hanfmann and Sarmiento secured the 1-0 advantage with an 8-5 decision.

Though this type of consistency continued on most of the courts in singles play, the last matchup proved the most challenging for USC.

Sarmiento and unranked Emmett Egger would go into a 10-point tiebreaker after Sarmiento ceded the second set to his opponent again. Egger pulled off an upset on a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 1-0 (10-4) comeback over Sarmiento, handing the senior captain his second loss of the trip and his first back-to-back losses of the season.

“[Sarmiento has] been changing his racquet, and stuff like that caught up with him this weekend,” Smith said. “But stuff like that is going to happen to anyone, and Ray’s a senior, he’s captain, so that happening to Ray [and not other players] is the best thing.”

The Trojans rode the waves of their wins into singles against Washington; Hanfmann outplayed Max Manthou with a 6-0, 6-3 win, leading to a 2-0 lead for USC.

Following suit, de Vroome dominated his match, for a 6-3, 6-3 win over Jeff Hawke. Quiroz topped Gal Hakak with a 6-2, 6-2 win, clinching the match for the Trojans. The victory was the 10th straight for the talented Ecuadorian. Senior captain Michael Grant completed a stunning second set against Viktor Farkas, winning it 7-5, 6-0 to close out the match.

Next weekend, USC returns home to host Stanford at 1:30 p.m. on Friday before facing California on Saturday at Marks Stadium.