Pair of weekend wins push USC men’s tennis to 3-0 record

Matt Karatsu | Daily Trojan
Perfect set · The men’s tennis team took down UC Riverside and UC Irvine in a doubleheader on Saturday to maintain its perfect record.

The No. 10  men’s tennis team improved to 3-0 on the season over the weekend, notching two victories in a Saturday doubleheader at Marks Stadium. The No. 10 Trojans have claimed all three of their wins this spring against UC schools. They earned their first of the season with a 6-1 win against UC Santa Cruz last Monday and earned two more versus UC Riverside and UC Irvine on Saturday afternoon.

UC Riverside was first up, and USC breezed to a 7-0 sweep over the Highlanders. The Trojans established their dominance early in doubles play: A quick victory from the pair of senior Rob Bellamy and sophomore Jake DeVine set the tone, before junior Thibault Forget and sophomore Jack Jaede teamed up to clinch the doubles point for USC and give their team a 1-0 lead.

The Trojans then turned to singles play. Bellamy followed up his doubles dominance with an impressive solo effort, shutting his Highlander opponent out in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0. Though he wasn’t able to match Bellamy’s performance, freshman Riley Smith also won in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2, to extend USC’s lead to a commanding 3-0.

Junior Jens Sweaney then edged UC Riverside’s freshman Olivier Kigotho 6-3, 6-1 to clinch the match for USC. It was Sweaney’s first career match-clinching win in Cardinal and Gold, and three more Trojan wins in singles play capped a 7-0 shutout against the Highlanders.

USC grabbed its second win of the day against UC Irvine by a similar score line, but the Trojans’ 6-1 victory over the Anteaters came after a considerably stiffer challenge in doubles play. Smith combined with fellow freshman Brandon Holt to open the match with a victory, but the pair of redshirt junior David Laser and sophomore Logan Smith fell in their doubles matchup to set up a decisive third contest. Senior Nick Crystal and sophomore Laurens Verboven were tasked with bringing home the doubles point to USC, and they fought through a grueling tiebreaker to snatch a 7-6 (4) win and a 1-0 Trojan advantage.

Things went more smoothly for USC in singles. Forget cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 win to double his team’s lead, and DeVine’s 6-1, 6-1 win put the Trojans on the brink. Jaede put the finishing touches on his 6-2, 6-1 victory just seconds later to clinch the match and bring USC to 3-0 on the season.

With momentum on their side, the Trojans will now set their sights on the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, which they will host at Marks Stadium next weekend. USC won the tournament last season, edging Tulane 4-3 in the championship match.