Trojans look to maintain strong play over weekend

The USC men’s tennis team hopes to keep its momentum swinging in the right direction as it battles No. 3 Texas on Friday and No. 27 Louisville on Saturday.

USC will also travel to Florida next week to take on No. 15 Florida and No. 36 Florida State.

The Trojans and Longhorns last met more than a year ago, when the then-No. 1 Trojans fell to then-No. 8 Texas in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships last year.

Doubles play was the thorn in the Trojans’ side and they were ultimately not able to bring it back in singles play, losing 4-2.

“[They have] very good doubles teams, so it will be a really good win,” said senior Jaak Poldma. “It will be tough though. I think our singles will be stronger on the top courts.”

Doubles has been a sore spot all season for the Trojans, who would like to avoid repeat of last year.

Lately, however, the Trojans have begun to look stronger and more consistent, especially during last week’s 5-2 win against UCLA.

“[It has] a lot to do with injury,” Poldma said. “We tried a few different lineups when some of the guys were out and found what works.”

Injuries have still been an issue for the Trojans, with senior Peter Lucassen sidelined with a stress fracture.

Earlier this season freshmen Michael Grant and Ray Sarmiento were out, and sophomore J.T. Sundling recently hurt his knee.

“We’re a good team as a whole, so whenever we’re all playing it’s good,” Poldma said. “But when we’re injured it’s not so good. Still, I think that when we are healthy we’re the favorites.”

Singles has been a strong spot for USC, with dominant performances from the top four seeds, juniors Steve Johnson and Daniel Nguyen, Poldma and Sarmiento. Johnson competed as a wildcard entry in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells earlier this week.

“Steve has been unbelievable,” Poldma said. “He just lost to a top player. I haven’t lost a set. Daniel is ranked in the top 20, and Raymond hasn’t lost a match since he had to forfeit [due to injury].”

First serve against Texas is at 3 p.m. at Marks Stadium. The Trojans then take on Louisville on Saturday.

The teams met earlier this season in Seattle at this year’s ITA Indoor Championships where USC beat the Cardinal in a 4-0 shutout.

Saturday’s matchup begins at noon.