USC prepares for Portland in road matchup

Junior Stefan Dostanic celebrates after a point during his singles match against Harvard Jan. 30.
Junior Stefan Dostanic celebrates after a point during his singles match against Harvard Jan. 30. Dostanic is ranked No. 4 in singles. (Andrew Kerner | Daily Trojan)

Men’s tennis will kick off a week of competition in Seattle with a neutral match against Portland Tuesday afternoon. 

After a loss to No. 8 Stanford and an impressive comeback victory over UC Berkeley during their last road trip, USC will look to double its win streak as they head into this weekend’s ITA National Team Indoor Championship.

ITA’s most recent coaches’ poll saw the Trojans fall three spots to No. 11 after suffering their first season defeat to the Cardinal. 

Head Coach Brett Masi said he believes the team’s energy led to the loss.

“We came out incredibly locked in …, and then we let down going into singles,” said Masi in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “So it’s really sustaining that energy through the entire match that needed to happen.”

After USC doubles point victories from freshman duo Ryan Colby and Peter Makk and junior Stefan Dostanic and senior Bradley Frye, Stanford captured four straight singles points to win the match 4-1. 

Players saw the loss as a valuable experience, since the Trojans will face Stanford again next month and will likely encounter the Cardinal a third time in April’s Pac-12 tournament.

“It showed us that we need to keep on building our chemistry,” freshman Wojtek Marek said. “We cannot be happy with our level now. We have to keep on growing.”

USC followed its loss to Stanford with a 4-2 comeback victory against the Golden Bears. The win featured impressive singles performances from Marek Makk. The two each allowed only three points in their two set victories.

“We came on the court and showed a completely different attitude,” Makk said. “I feel like we have a lot more confidence after that match.”

The Trojans have relied heavily on their newcomers this season with three freshmen in their starting lineup. Makk currently sits at No. 46 nationally in the ITA’s singles rankings, reaching as high as No. 35 earlier this season. 

USC will return its entire starting lineup next season, including ITA singles No. 4 ranked Dostanic.

“[Makk and Marek] are definitely very electric. And Ryan Colby, he’s had a great start to his freshman campaign,” Masi said. “All of these guys are great in their own right. They all have their pluses, but they all have their minuses … and that’s why they’re here: To grow and to get better.”

USC will look to build on their success against Cal as they head into Tuesday’s match against Portland. The victory featured USC’s first doubles point loss of the season, which Masi hopes won’t become a trend.

“Overall, we had a little bit of a letdown starting in the Cal match from the energy we put forth against Stanford,” Masi said. “We tried a few different combinations … and maybe we were mispositioned a little bit but, either way, the biggest difference was just our energy going into the match.”

Masi thinks that focus will be the team’s key to victory Tuesday after more than a week off from competition.

“Just being sharp, having good focus and awareness, and just going out and playing our tennis,” he said. “If we play our style of tennis, I don’t see us having too much trouble.”

The Trojans take on the Pilots in neutral play at 4 p.m. in Seattle.