Trojans set to face Florida State for first time in program history

Coming off a successful weekend doubleheader against Sacramento State and St. Mary’s College, the No. 2 USC men’s tennis team will now face a top-30 team in Florida State.

Attention will shift toward freshmen Emilio Gomez, Michael Grant and Ray Sarmiento to help influence the outcome of the match.

Welcome back · Junior Steve Johnson returns to the court after missing matches against Sacramento State and Saint Mary’s over the weekend because of an injury. Johnson is ranked as the No. 6 singles player in the nation. - Tim Tran | Daily Trojan

All three had solid finishes to Saturday’s competition and they will need to continue to step up to the plate as the season progresses.

“They have an opportunity to be a big part of the team,” USC coach Peter Smith said. “The freshmen had a great weekend. They came through with flying colors.”

The Trojans (2-0) hope to focus on tightening up in the doubles department, which will be especially important as the season progresses.

Still, if the Trojans give the same effort as last weekend, their prospects of winning look good, especially with the return of some of their more seasoned players.

Returning to the lineup for the match against Florida State (4-0, 2-0) is USC’s No. 1 player, and nationally ranked No. 6, junior Steve Johnson.

Johnson sat out during the weekend’s matches due to injury, but Smith is confident that he will be at 100 percent in the next game.

Last season, Florida State ranked seventh in the ACC conference.

The Seminoles are now No. 27 nationally.

“I think playing the defending national champions is exciting, especially early in the year,” said Florida State assistant coach Nick Crowell on the team website. “Our guys are really excited, they’re really pumped, they worked hard over break. I feel like they’ve had this match in their sights for a long time.”

The Seminoles will return two seniors in Clint Bowles and Vahid Mirzadeh, but the team will rely on the younger talents of freshman Blake Davis and sophomore Connor Smith, who went 5-1 and 6-1 in spring singles dual matches, respectively.

“Florida State is a good program that has been right there in the top 20,” Smith said. “That’s why we are playing them. I am looking forward to seeing how our team plays.”

First serve is at 1:30 p.m. at Marks Stadium.