USC looks to build on its early success

The USC men’s tennis team welcomes No. 20 Pepperdine at 1:30 p.m. today, hoping to extend its early-season winning streak to seven matches.

The Waves are also coming off an equally successful start at 5-1.

“They will have a lot of passion on the court,” said USC coach Peter Smith, who coached the Waves for six seasons. “They will bring energy, they’re great to play against and they are the most enthusiastic team we play.”

Though the Trojans (6-0) have enjoyed early season success, they know they still have work to do, and that the season is far from over.

“Being mentally stable makes it possible to win matches,” said junior Daniel Nguyen. “How you approach the match, whether you stay calm and don’t get too frustrated is crucial.”

Following last week’s match against University of San Diego — by far its most intense of the season — USC looks to stay grounded and focused on the task at hand.

“[Pepperdine] is always a good team. They’ve got a solid lineup from top to bottom,” Johnson said.

Coming off of consecutive 7-0 victories against Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara last week, Pepperdine will be ready to play.

Among their lineup are three nationally ranked players in No. 14 Sebastian Fanselow, No. 40 Alex Llompart and No. 112 Finn Tearney.

Tearney partners with the Waves’ Hugh Clarke, and they are ranked No. 35 nationally as well.

“They’re a national championship team which national championship coaches. They know what it takes,” Smith said.

Though Smith is confident that the Trojans will control the match, both he and Johnson acknowledge that at this point in the season, it is still a growing process.

“We’re getting better with each match. We’re a younger team and with more experience we improve,” Johnson said. “We need to keep things going [against Pepperdine].”

The Trojans will travel next week to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, but for Johnson, Nguyen and the team, right now the focus is on facing the Waves.

“We’ve got to jump on them quickly, set the tone early on and don’t let go,” Johnson said.