Despite some stiff competition, USC men’s tennis continues to build on its undefeated season and its long-standing win streak.
The No. 1 Trojans (18-0) took on their sixth top-10 opponent in No. 10 Florida (9-6) and extended their win streak to 38 dual matches with a 6-1 win over the Gators Monday at Marks Tennis Stadium.
Leading the way was No. 2 senior Steve Johnson, who tallied his 51st straight singles victory and USC’s first singles point with a 6-1, 6-2 win over No. 61 Bob van Overbeek.
“I’m playing some of my best tennis right now,” Johnson said. “I feel like there’s another level I can get to, mentally and physically, and that’s what I keep striving for.”
After Johnson’s win, freshman Roberto Quiroz pushed the Trojans’ lead to 3-0 by ousting Billy Federhofer 6-2, 6-3.
Fellow freshman Yannick Hanfmann, ranked No. 30 in singles, then clinched USC’s victory by defeating Florent Diep 7-5, 6-2. The return home helped Hanfmann bounce back from his three-set singles loss to Texas A&M’s John Lewis March 1.
“It’s always different at a home match,” Hanfmann said. “We’re all fired up to play at home.”
A loss from No. 41 sophomore Emilio Gomez to No. 93 Spencer Newman gave the Gators their only point for the match. Afterward, three-set wins from No. 16 senior Daniel Nguyen and No. 24 sophomore Ray Sarmiento rounded out USC’s 6-1 victory.
Before singles action, USC had jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage with a sweep in doubles play.
The three doubles pairs from Florida were all nationally ranked, but the Trojans swept the field, beginning with Johnson and Quiroz’s 8-1 win over the No. 8 pair Federhofer and Nassim Slilam.
Gomez and Hanfmann followed with an 8-3 victory over No. 74 van Overbeek and Andrew Butz to clinch the doubles point for USC and improve their record together to 10-1.
Nguyen and Sarmiento, ranked No. 21 in the nation, finished the doubles sweep by taking out No. 26 Newman and Tripper Carleton 8-2.
Though the Trojans have normally featured the No. 6 doubles pair in Hanfmann and Johnson along with Gomez and Quiroz, the team has recently played other combinations to give freshmen Hanfmann and Quiroz more experience.
“Steve’s our captain, and we’ll have to learn from him,” Quiroz said. “He’s such a good player. I’m trying to learn every match.”
Quiroz’s new partner shares similar confidence about the pairing.
“[Roberto] is a very accomplished doubles player,” Johnson said. “We’ve really gotten together and played well.”
The Trojans improved to 4-2 all-time against the Gators and added one more win to their 38-match streak that dates back to last February.
USC is now 4-0 in March after a 7-0 sweep against No. 50 Virginia Tech on March 9 and two road victories against No. 13 Texas and No. 20 Texas A&M last week.
The Trojans will host No. 38 Boise State (13-5) next Monday at Marks Tennis Stadium in USC’s final match before conference play.