The No. 12 men’s tennis team kicked off their 2021 NCAA tournament run this month with their first two matches at home for the rounds of 64 and 32.
They first started in the round of 64 by facing Grand Canyon Antelopes where they cruised with a 4-0 win, winning both in doubles and singles. Then, they had to go up against No. 28 Pepperdine Waves who previously ousted the Trojans earlier this season in a 4-3 win.
Looking for revenge, the Trojans won in a decisive fashion: 4-2.
USC first won the doubles points thanks to the No. 10 duo of senior Daniel Cukierman and redshirt senior Riley Smith who beat No. 71 freshman Guy Den Ouden and graduate student Adrian Oetzbach, 6-3. Sophomore Stefan Dostanic and junior Bradley Frye also won a close matchup 7-5 against juniors Corrado Summaria and Tim Zeitvogel to seal up doubles.
In singles, the Trojans got a head start with early wins from No. 49 Cukierman and freshman Lodewijk Weststrate. However, the Waves fought back with Den Ouden beating No. 52 Smith, and Zeitvogel winning against Frye.
Needing one more win, No. 116 Dostanic booked their ticket to Orlando by prevailing against junior Daniel De Jonge, 7-6 (12), 6-2.
At the USTA National Campus in Orlando, USC faced a tough matchup against No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers in the round of 16.
Like with Pepperdine, the Trojans were able to start off with a quick lead winning doubles in two tightly-contested matches. The duo of No. 10 Cukierman and Smith were able to beat No. 14 graduate student Carl Soderlund and junior William Woodall, 6-4. Then, Dostanic and Frye were able to outlast the No. 89 doubles partnership of junior Ryan Goetz and freshman Chris Rodesch, 7-6 (5).
The match once again fell close in singles, with No. 52 Smith first upsetting No. 44 Jeffery von der Schulenberg in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5.
However, the Cavaliers quickly responded back with senior Gianni Ross beating junior Jake Sands, 6-4, 7-5, and then No. 61 freshman Iñaki Montes de la Torre beating Frye, 7-6 (4), 6-2. These victories for Virginia tied up the overall match score at 2-2.
Nevertheless, the Trojans persevered with Weststrate taking down No. 106 Goetz, 6-3, 7-5, and then No. 116 Dostanic once again sealed the victory for the Trojans against Rodesch in three sets, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. Once again, the final score was 4-2.
The sophomore Dostanic has been accustomed to delivering the final blow in singles as seen previously in the Pepperdine match in the Round of 32 and the Pac-12 finals against Arizona State.
“I mean, look, he’s [Dostanic’s] up for the moment … he’s very competitive and he rises to that, to the occasion,” head coach Brett Masi said post-game about Dostanic’s ability to finish matches for the Trojans in the postseason. “He stayed the course, and he played a great third set to secure [the victory].”
Now, the Trojans intend to seek out another upset against No. 4 Texas Longhorns in the quarterfinals who previously beat USC back in February at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships consolation semifinal match, 3-4.
“I think the guys are going to be just pretty hungry to seek some revenge,” Masi said about the team’s motivation heading into the Texas matchup. “We just got to go out there and play the same tennis that we did today [against Virginia] where we take charge early and assert ourselves.”
The No. 12 Trojans will take on No. 4 Texas in the quarterfinals Thursday.