The USC men’s tennis team dominated the court this past Friday at Marks Stadium in a doubleheader match against UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara.
“A doubleheader is important for our team,” junior Roberto Quiroz said. “It’s great because it gives us more practice and the more practice, the better we play.”
Coming off of their second-place finish at the Houston ITA National Team Indoor Championships last weekend, the now-No. 2 Trojans added another duo of shutouts to make their 9-1 record of the season.
“It was definitely different going back to play outside after being indoors,” Quiroz said, “but it’s still not clay or anything, so it’s not bad.”
Indoors or not, this doubleheader proved to give the Trojans the practice they needed. In the first morning matchup against UC Davis, the Trojans first took down the Aggies in doubles play. Freshman Nick Crystal and junior Jonny Wang sealed an 8-1 victory on court three, while sophomore Max de Vroome and junior Eric Johnson secured an 8-5 win on court two. The match against UC Davis also marked Crystal’s first dual-match victory as a Trojan. He was able to bring USC up 3-0 early on in the match against the Aggies.
“It was really great finally getting to play,” Crystal said. “It was the first real game I’ve played.”
The match continued to the singles round where another ‘SC freshman — Rob Bellamy — was able to check off his own first dual-match win of the season, defeating Aggie Parker Kelley with a 6-2, 6-2 win. Winning became a universal affair for all of the Trojans on the team. At the No. 1 spot, Quiroz led the pack 6-1, 6-2. Freshman Connor Farren and de Vroome wrapped up the Trojans victory win a 7-0 finish.
“The culture Coach creates for us is really strong and makes it something great to play in,” freshman David Laser said. “He didn’t put any extra pressure on this game, actually, he made it more relaxed. We all got to play, and coach really made sure that happened.”
In the second half of the weekend’s doubleheader, junior Yannick Hanfmann and senior Ray Sarmiento captured the first doubles win against UC Santa Barbara, and the de Vroome/Johnson duo followed with another win, bringing the Trojans up 1-0.
In singles play, everyone came back ready to take on the Gauchos. Bellamy, de Vroome and Johnson earned their second wins of the day in the singles category. Trojans Hanfmann, Sarmiento and Wang secured wins of their own against Santa Barbara, to help the USC to a 7-0 victory over Santa Barbara for the afternoon’s matchup. Hanfmann captured a 6-0, 6-1 finish in the No. 1 line, while Sarmiento and Wang garnered a 6-1, 7-6 and 6-0, 6-0 finish in the No. 2 and No. 3 lines, respectively.
The younger members of the team were appreciative of the day’s matchups and for one another on the court.
“Captain Ray [Sarmiento] is great. He’s a great guy and [is] always looking out for us,” Laser said. “Roberto works really hard, and it’s great to see him get the recognition he deserves. He’s someone to look up to.”
The season is still young for the Trojans, and Quiroz knows that more opportunities for improvement have yet to come.
“I’m just working on staying consistent and trying to make myself better each time,” Quiroz said. “Winning Pac-12 has proven that hard work pays off, and it just makes me want to continue what I’m doing.”
The 9-1 Trojans move on to face crosstown rival UCLA after defeating them in the ITA National Indoors one weeks ago. USC will head to Westwood to face the Bruins in a Pac-12 matchup on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at noon.