USC men’s tennis players capture Pro Series crown

Junior Daniel Cukierman helped the Trojans achieve a doubles victory in the Oracle Pro Series Tournament at Marks Stadium. (Emily Smith | Daily Trojan)

The No. 3 USC men’s tennis team participated in the Oracle Pro Series Tournament held on their home courts at the Marks Stadium Monday through Sunday. 

Unlike previous competitions, which have solely consisted of college players, this tournament also included professionals ranked in the Association of Tennis Professionals standings. The challenge of competing against highly skilled opponents  troubled some of the Trojans, but the team still found general success in both singles and doubles play despite the tough competition.

Notable USC players in the main draw included junior Daniel Cukierman, senior Riley Smith, senior Brandon Holt, freshman Ryder Jackson (singles only) and sophomore Bradley Frye (doubles only). 

Many Trojans were eliminated in the earlier rounds of singles play, but Holt was able to reach the semifinals before falling to No. 368 Alexander Ritschard, who previously played for Virginia during its 2016-17 National Championship campaign.

Despite Holt’s impressive run, head coach Brett Masi still thinks the senior can do better.

“[Holt] did compete really well,” Masi said. “He didn’t play his best level of tennis that he is capable of, but he played at a very … high level. A lot of them are top 500 in the world or better, and it shows that Brandon is fully capable of playing with these guys.”

In doubles, Holt, Cukierman and Smith reached the finals, with the pair of Cukierman and Smith winning it all. Holt was paired with Swiss player Sandro Ehrat, ranked No. 582 in doubles play.

Cukierman and Smith faced some difficult opponents in their journey to the finals, including French duo Geoffrey Blancaneaux and Florian Lakat, who are ranked in the top 300 in the world for doubles. Masi was particularly proud of Cukierman and Smith’s doubles performance. 

“[Cukierman and Smith] beat four teams that were very highly ranked guys, and I think that was super impressive on their part to come in and do it,” Masi said after the pair’s tightly contested finals victory over Holt and Ehrat.

According to Masi, the tournament was a good experience for the Trojans looking to compete professionally in the future. 

“A lot of the things that this tournament was about was to help these guys learn what the process is in order to be and play at that next level and get them that exposure,” Masi said. “Now, they need to take those next steps in their own games personally to [get to the next level].”

The Trojans hope to build on their success as they face other elite schools at the Sherwood Collegiate Classic this week in Thousand Oaks.