Experience a priority against San Diego

In a final tune-up before the start of the Pac-10 conference slate of matches, the No. 5 USC men’s tennis team hosts No. 63 San Diego State today at 3:30 p.m.

Tune up · Sophomore Steve Johnson and the Trojans will use their dual meet against San Diego State to prepare for upcoming Pac-10 play. - Gary Fung | Daily Trojan

With two matches at California and Stanford this upcoming weekend, the Trojans (9-1, 0-0) hope to continue gaining experience and confidence against the Aztecs before the all-important conference season commences.

Coming home  after four matches away from Marks Tennis Stadium  will allow USC another opportunity to display consistency throughout the lineup against a team that has played better than its record indicates.

Last Saturday, San Diego State (1-5, 0-0) won the important doubles point against No. 6 UCLA  in a match it eventually lost 5-2.

For the Trojans — where doubles play remains a point of emphasis — the Aztecs demonstrated that they could test the Trojans’ doubles lineup. Although the Trojans have won the doubles point in nine of their 10 matches, the team continues to search for the best lineup combinations and steady contributions from all three spots.

SDSU marked its first match victory of the season against UC Santa Barbara last Sunday. UCSB is the same team that played well against USC in the second match of the season, which USC won 4-3.

Although the Aztecs do not have any players ranked in singles or in doubles, their performance last weekend demonstrated they are improving as a squad.

Aztec No. 1 singles player Achim Ceban defeated UCSB’s Philip Therp in straight sets during SDSU’s 4-2 victory.

Doubles were not contested in the dual meet after SDSU clinched the victory with strong singles play.

USC’s recent road performance proved to be a positive lesson for the squad heading into this match.

“I loved playing on the road,” USC coach Peter Smith said. “I was very impressed how we handled the stress of Pepperdine.”

USC did not return from the road matches unscathed — losing to No. 4 Texas — but finished strong with quality wins against UCLA and Pepperdine.

The lessons from the trip will be crucial when conference play begins, as the Trojans start tackling the first of their main goals this year — winning the Pac-10 conference title.

With all of the challenges on the upcoming schedule, SDSU is not a team that can be overlooked.

The Trojans do not plan on having a letdown against the Aztecs, as they still feel they have aspects to improve upon themselves.

“We weren’t perfect, and that’s what we will keep working for,” Smith said.