No. 2 USC cruises to victory in ITA Kick-off Weekend
San Diego State University and Indiana University proved to be no match for the USC men’s tennis team, which steamrolled the competition to win the ITA Kickoff Weekend Saturday.
The No. 2 Trojans beat San Diego State 7-0 and Indiana 6-1 to keep their unblemished record intact.
The Trojans looked strong in both singles and doubles, and the two-day tournament was an overall success for the team.
“I am really happy with the performance,” said USC coach Peter Smith. “[It’s] just good to have the whole team out there playing. We have had our issues in the last week and we are lucky we have so much depth to help us.”
In doubles action, the Trojans got off to a rough start, as the pair of No. 51 senior Jaak Poldma and sophomore J.T. Sundling fell to Indiana’s Jeremy Langer and Santiago Gruter, 8-3.
Junior Steve Johnson and freshman Ray Sarmiento managed to come away with an 8-2 victory over Indiana’s Josh MacTaggart and Stephen Vogl, and junior Daniel Nguyen and freshman Emilio Gomez came away with a thrilling 8-6 victory over Isade Juneau and Will Kendall.
The weekend’s matches also saw the return of senior Peter Lucassen.
“Peter didn’t [look] very comfortable in his return on Friday, but really got it going against Indiana,” Smith said. “He played with some great aggression … he just has to have the right mindset and he will be great.”
Lucassen fell to Aztecs’ Tim Schulz van Endert 6-1, 6-2 on Friday, but came up with a win against Indiana’s Isade Juneau with a decisive 6-1, 6-0 finish.
Even more important to the team’s success thus far, Smith has praised the play of several promising new freshmen.
“Our freshman Michael [Grant], [Sarmiento] and [Gomez] all played so well,” Smith said. “[It’s] just great to see them adjusting to college tennis and helping the team. As tough as it is to lose seniors, the great thing about coaching is to reinvent the team with new players.”
No. 4 Sarmiento defeated Indiana’s Claes Goransson 6-2, 6-0 while No. 6 Gomez took a 6-0, 6-1 victory against the Indiana’s Stephen Vogl.
With the wins, the Trojans earned a place in the ITA National Indoors Championship in Seattle next month.
Another home match awaits the Trojans against San Diego Friday at 1:30 p.m. at Marks Stadium, as they hope to continue their strong start to the season.
“We have some work to do in doubles,” Smith said. “Guys need to get comfortable with their partners, have a little more understanding with their shot selection and get more comfortable in their positioning. We will work on it and get it down. That’s what the early part of the season is for.”