Men’s tennis continues blazing start

USC improved to a perfect 4-0 with a strong win over UNLV at Marks Stadium.

The Trojans advance to a 4-0 record after dominating against UNLV last weekend. USC will travel to Oklahoma State this weekend to see if they can keep their winning streak alive. (Jordan Renville / Daily Trojan)

No. 7 men’s tennis continued its undefeated start to the season with a cruising win over UNLV Saturday afternoon at Marks Stadium. The Rebels could not stop the surging Trojans on a windy day at the courts. 

The doubles point went the way of USC (4-0, 0-0 Pac-12) with wins from each of their two doubles squads. Star junior Peter Makk and senior Lodewijk Weststrate, the top pairing, took care of UNLV’s (4-2, 0-0 Mountain West) junior Anton Ornberg and senior Jackson Atherton in a swift 6-3 set. USC’s second ranked pairing of freshman Volodymyr Iakubenko and graduate student Samuel Rubell won their set 7-5 over Rebels junior Taiyo Hirano and freshman Illia Maksymchuk. 

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The Trojans took four of the six singles matches, leading to the 5-2 overall match score. First, singles player Makk, No. 39 in the country, lost his match in a thriller to UNLV’s  Ornberg by a score of 2-6, 6-4, 10-6. No. 73 Weststrate won his second singles match handily, 6-2, 6-2. The Trojans’ third ranked player, No. 94 junior Karl Lee, proved his ranking with a 6-2, 6-1 win over freshman Martin Jovenin. 

The other victorious Trojans in singles were Iakubenko and Rubell. Iakubenko won in straight sets over sixth-year Aaron Bailey, 6-4, 6-1. Rubell would need the third set tiebreak to prevail over Maksymchuk in the No. 4 singles slot. 

Head Coach Brett Masi said he was pleased with the performance.

“Overall it was solid, we’re still trying to get healthy and obviously prepare for bigger matches in March and April, but it was a good win for the team,” Masi said in an interview with the Daily Trojan

Star sophomore Wojtek Marek did not play against UNLV due to an injury, but he should be back on the court soon. Injuries, like Marek’s, have allowed other players an opportunity to work their way into the Trojans’ rotation. 

“Overall, these guys just need to keep getting experiences,” Masi said. “Yesterday was a good opportunity for that.” 

A depth of matchplay on the roster helps build the team toward more significant matches for later in the season. 

Coach Masi was especially pleased with Iakubenko’s performance, who now has clinched three of the team’s four matches to this point. His level has been astounding for a freshman and Iakubenko’s work ethic has surprised the coaching staff and exceeded all expectations.  

“[Iakubenko] relishes the competition. He really enjoys it and thrives in the environment that he’s in,” Masi said. “I’ve been really impressed with this kind of fearless attitude and wanting to go out there and seize the moments.” 

The Trojans are set to embark on a road trip next week. Following stops at Oklahoma State and Baylor, they’ll play in the prestigious ITA National Indoor Championships in New York. Masi is excited for the cross-country trip which will pit his players against some of the best in the nation. 

“It’ll be great for our squad … [to] see some of the best teams in the country,” Masi said. 

All in all, the Trojans were pleased to get another win as their undefeated start continues. There were a ton of positive takeaways from the match as the seventh-ranked squad heads to Stillwater, Oklahoma for their next match at Greenwood Tennis Center Feb. 10.

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