Formidable foes will test Trojans at Marks Stadium

After notching its first two conference wins last weekend, the USC men’s tennis team is coming home to face two top-20 conference rivals this weekend.

The No. 4 Trojans (16-2, 2-0) are coming off a four-match road stretch to face No. 7 Stanford (11-4, 1-0) on Friday at 1:30 p.m.

This will be the Trojans’ fifth match against a team ranked in the top 10 this season. USC holds a 3-1 record against top-10 opponents.

In late February, USC traveled to Palo Alto, Calif., and narrowly defeated Stanford, 4-3, in an unusual match where singles play was decided before doubles play.

In that match, No. 15 senior Robert Farah, No. 104 junior Peter Lucassen and No. 83 sophomore Daniel Nguyen won their singles matches.

USC displayed toughness in the doubles play with juniors Jaak Poldma and Lucassen winning 9-7, and sophomores Steve Johnson and Nguyen winning 9-8 (3) to clinch the match victory against Stanford’s tough doubles lineup.

The Trojans have won their last three matches against Stanford, but all of these recent battles were closely contested.

“We know Stanford extremely well and have a ton of respect for them,” USC coach Peter Smith said. “We know how tough a match it will be and how tough the matches have been in the past, so our mindset has to be ready for a battle.”

On Saturday, USC will continue to battle it out against No. 17 California (10-4, 1-0) in the first meeting between the squads this year.

A previously scheduled match against the Golden Bears was cancelled because of rain.

Cal has three ranked singles players — No. 16 Pedro Zerbini, No. 71 Christoffer Konigsfeldt,                                No. 116 Jonathan Dahan — and two ranked doubles teams — No. 23 Nick Andrews and Konigsfeldt and No. 26 Dahan and Zerbini.

With back-to-back matches against the Bay Area schools, USC hopes to continue to build on the success they have had so far this season.

“We have prepared the whole season for these matches,” Smith said. “This is all part of the process of getting us ready for NCAAs; I’m looking for our discipline and toughness to come out.”

With all of the miles the Trojans have acquired traveling throughout the country, the team is glad to play in familiar surroundings.

“We are happy to be coming home,” Smith said. “Looking forward to a good crowd at the Stanford and Cal matches this weekend.”