Men’s tennis comes up just short in Malibu

Trojans have a mediocre weekend at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships.

Junior Peter Makk was selected to the All-Pac-12 First Team in his second season with the Trojans last year. He qualified for the NCAA Singles Championship but fell in the opening round to Virginia’s Chris Rodesch. (Sarah Ruiz / Daily Trojan)

The USC men’s tennis team does not start their official season until January, but they have a busy fall slate in preparation for the season. A host of Trojans were in the draw during this weekend’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association Southwest Regional Championships in Malibu at Pepperdine University. Expectations were sky-high after securing victories in both the main singles and doubles draw at last year’s event. 

The tournament was held over the weekend as the Trojans competed against other top teams in the southwest division. Six different players represented USC on the singles side, with three pairs entering the doubles field as well. While not able to replicate the championships of last year’s tournament, some Trojans had successful weekends. 

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Defending champion junior Peter Makk reached the semifinals of the singles bracket. Entering the tournament as the No. 1 seed, Makk certainly had a target on his back.   

“Everyone definitely has a little bit more of a target going for you,” said Head Coach Brett Masi in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “Winning it last year and being the one seed in the tournament this year.” 

However, Makk defeated two players ranked in the top 100 nationally and has positives to take from the weekend, despite coming up short of his goals as the top seed. 

Other Trojans did not fare quite as well. Outside of Makk, the singles players went 5-5. For doubles, juniors Wojtek Marek and Samuel Rubell made a successful run to the quarterfinals. 

“They’re a good team because they’re both really tall and have good serves and got a strong foundation at the net and return game,” Masi said.

Marek and Rubell will be a key doubles pairing for USC this season as they look to build on their strong 3-2 start this preseason. The other two pairs did not perform as well this weekend, falling in the early stages of the tournament. 

Junior Karl Lee continued to build on his strong fall play, winning a pair of matches to bring his preseason record to 5-1. Lee also won a doubles match with Makk before they fell in the round of 32. 

It was certainly an up-and-down weekend for the Trojans who secured 12 wins in Malibu but certainly fell short of their goals. 

“We just didn’t quite accomplish the things that we needed for this tournament,” Masi said.

Looking ahead, USC will have another opportunity for preseason growth coming up this weekend. They will host the SoCal Intercollegiate Championships Oct. 26-29. The team is highly looking forward to competing in front of the Trojan faithful back home at Marks Stadium. 

“It’s always nice to play on your home courts and play in front of your peers and your families and friends that are on campus,” Masi said. “Most importantly, we play on these courts every single day.” 

The comfort level of the courts and environment will be a factor as the team gears up for their first home tournament this weekend.

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