USC men’s tennis continued its undefeated start to the season over the weekend, winning the ITA Kick-Off Weekend championship with victories over East Tennessee State and San Diego. The No. 8 Trojans hosted the tournament at Marks Stadium, and they took advantage of their home court in their opening match against the Buccaneers and the championship matchup versus the Toreros.
ETSU was USC’s first opponent of the weekend, and the Trojans cruised to a 4-0 sweep on Saturday. Senior Nick Crystal and sophomore Laurens Verboven teamed up to get the match off to a fast start with a 6-1 win over the Buccaneers’ Robert Herrerra and Diego Nuñez. Junior Thibault Forget and sophomore Jack Jaede picked up a 6-2 victory not long after to clinch the doubles point for USC.
Jaede then took his momentum into singles play, recording a 6-1, 6-2 win and doubling the Trojans’ advantage on the scoreboard. Freshman Riley Smith won his match 6-4, 6-2 to put USC one point away from advancing to the championship, and Crystal’s 6-4, 6-1 victory punched the Trojans’ ticket.
San Diego met USC in the final on Sunday after defeating Virginia Tech before the Trojans took the court against ETSU. USC dominated in doubles play, with Smith and freshman Brandon Holt easing to a 6-2 win to kick things off. Senior Rob Bellamy and sophomore Jake DeVine then got the Trojans on the board with another 6-2 victory.
Crystal grabbed the first point in singles play, beating the Toreros’ Josh Page 6-1, 6-3, before Holt put USC up 3-0 with a 6-2, 6-3 win. Smith clinched the championship with a 6-1, 6-3 victory, and the Trojans took home a 6-1 win over San Diego once the rest of the matches were played to completion.
In the remainder of games, sophomore Logan Smith battled back from an 0-2 deficit to win 6-2, 6-4, and Jaede edged a three-set match 6-0, 3-6, 6-3. DeVine came up short in the only Trojan loss over the weekend, falling to Joel Gamerov. DeVine battled through multiple tiebreakers, losing one in the first set and another in the decisive final set. Despite putting up a tough fight, DeVine ultimately fell 7-6 (3), 3-6, 1-0 (10-3).
USC is now 5-0 overall on the season, but the team has yet to play away from the friendly confines of Marks Stadium. The Trojans will go on the road for the first time this year for their next matchup, as they travel to Gainesville, Fla. for the Pac-12/SEC Showdown. They will take on hosts Florida on Saturday and Georgia on Sunday.