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Trojans Eye A Title

USC men's tennis can clinch a share of the Pac-12 regular season title with a win at UCLA today.

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The No. 6 Trojans head to Westwood to take on No. 8 UCLA for the third time this season. The Bruins took the first battle, a 4-3 decision at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, but the Trojans pulled off a resounding 4-1 win when the teams met again last month.

Today's match, which begins at 3 p.m., will decide the top seed in the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament. USC enters the matchup at 22-4 (5-1 Pac-12), while UCLA is 16-4 with a 5-0 mark in conference play. Should the Trojans win, each team would have one Pac-12 loss and a share of the title. Should the Bruins come out on top, they'd win the conference outright.

Both the Trojans and Bruins boasts two ranked singles players, while USC also has two ranked doubles teams to UCLA's one.

USC freshman Riley Smith has the team's hottest hand right now, having won his last 12 singles matches. Sophomore Jack Jaede, meanwhile, has won six in a row.

The Trojans and Bruins clash today at 3 p.m. at UCLA.

Home Soil Hero

USC men's tennis legend Steve Johnson earned his second career ATP World Tour singles title at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston yesterday.

Johnson, who won 72 consecutive singles matches and back-to-back NCAA Singles Championships during his time at USC, fought through jet lag and exhaustion to defeat Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5).

Over the last few weeks, Johnson has been racking up miles, playing in an ATP event in Miami and a Davis Cup match in Australia before returning stateside for the Men's Clay Court title.

En route to the championship, fourth-seeded Johnson knocked off German Dustin Brown and Spaniard Fernando Verdasco before facing off against his countryman -- and bronze-medal-winning doubles partner at the Rio Olympics -- Jack Sock. Johnson toppled No. 1 seed Sock in three sets to set up the showdown with Bellucci.

Johnson's title was the fifth for an American man this ATP season, the most the U.S. can claim since 2012. It's also the second of his career, after winning the Nottingham Open last June.

Sweeps For Seniors

usc-mens-tennis-stanford-rachel-bennett_DSC0047.JPGUSC men's tennis swept both of its Pac-12 opponents this weekend, in its seniors' final matches at Marks Tennis Stadium.

No. 6 USC cruised to a 4-0 victory over Arizona in its penultimate home match of the season on Friday. Though the Trojans spent the weekend commemorating their seniors, it was freshman Riley Smith who clinched the win that day.

On Senior Day against Utah, USC's three outgoing players stepped up and delivered. Senior Rob Bellamy paired with sophomore Jack Jaede to get the Trojans off on the right foot in doubles, before seniors Nick Crystal (pictured) and David Laser clinched the doubles point on Court 3. Bellamy and Crystal were both victorious in singles as well, with Crystal serving as the match clincher in the final home appearance of his career. Crystal, Bellamy and Laser helped lift the Trojans to a 7-0 sweep.

USC closes out the regular season with a rubber match of sorts against UCLA. The Bruins eked out a 4-3 victory in the teams' first meeting of the year, but USC dominated UCLA, 4-1, in the more recent matchup. Should the Trojans win this Friday's battle, they would share the 2017 conference title with UCLA.

Friday's match begins at 3 p.m. at UCLA.

Seniors' Last Sets

usc-mens-tennis-etsu-012817-mcgillen-7051.jpgThis weekend, USC men's tennis hosts its two final home matches of the season.

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The No. 6 Trojans are 20-4 (3-1 Pac-12) heading into this weekend's matches. When they face Arizona at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow, they will aim for their 100th all-time win over the Wildcats, as their current series record stands at 99-2.

On Saturday at 1 p.m., senior captains Rob Bellamy and Nick Crystal (pictured) along with redshirt junior David Laser will play their last match at USC's Marks Stadium when the Trojans host Utah.

Bellamy, who hails from Pacific Palisades, CA, is 59-24 (.711) in his four years as a Trojan, while Crystal, a Waccabuc, NY native, is 77-34 (.694). Laser has gone 6-15 in his three years of competition.

Crystal and his doubles partner, Laurens Verboven, are ranked No. 76 in the nation together this season. USC's freshman duo of Brandon Holt and Riley Smith is the squad's highest ranked doubles team, at No. 11, and Logan Smith and Thibault Forget rank No. 80 in the nation as a pair. Holt and Logan Smith come in at No. 23 and 72 in the nation, respectively, in singles.

Neither Arizona nor Utah boasts a ranked player in singles or doubles.

At Friday's match against Arizona, the first 150 fans in attendance will receive a free poke bowl. After Saturday's match, the Trojans will hold a reception for the seniors, alumni and donors.

Go North

This weekend, the Trojan men's tennis team heads to the Bay to continue Pac-12 Play.

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No. 5 USC topped Oregon and Washington this weekend to start 2-0 in conference competition, and aims to improve upon that record against No. 19 Stanford and No. 12 Cal.

Despite inexperience, two freshmen have provided a consistent boost for the Trojans this season. Riley Smith has won 11 straight for a 15-1 overall dual match record in his first year at Troy, while Brandon Holt has held his own on the top two courts and managed a 12-4 record and a No. 19 national ranking.

Holt and Smith (pictured) have proven a formidable duo in doubles, reaching a No. 11 national ranking with a 13-2 record on Court 1.

Holt, Smith and the Trojans face Stanford tomorrow at 3 p.m. and Cal on Saturday at 1 p.m. Follow the team on Twitter and Instagram for updates!


Mr. 600

600wins-mtennis (1).jpgUSC men's tennis head coach Peter Smith earned his 600th and 601st career wins this weekend as the Trojans opened up Pac-12 play.

No. 600 came on Friday when his fifth-ranked Trojans swept the Oregon Ducks, a team to which USC has never lost (23-0 all-time).

USC's 6-1 win over Washington on Saturday pushed Smith to 601 career wins. The Trojans won the doubles point easily, then racked up five straight-sets singles victories to earn the win.

Smith, who has the Trojans sitting at 19-3 (2-0 Pac-12) this season, is a five-time national champion as head coach at USC. He's been named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year five times and the ITA National Coach of the Year twice during his 15-year tenure at Troy.

Before coming to USC, Smith spent time coaching at Pepperdine, Fresno State and Long Beach State, where he became the youngest coach in Division I tennis at the age of 23. In his 28-year career, he boasts an overall record of 601-220.

The Trojans are currently the highest-ranked Pac-12 team in the nation, at No. 5. They have five regular season Pac-12 matches remaining before the conference tournament in Ojai, CA at the end of the month.

McGillen Gallery: USC Men's Tennis vs. Oregon

USC men's tennis opened up its Pac-12 slate with a win over Oregon on Friday by a 5-0 margin.

John McGillen, the official photographer of the Trojans, captured all the best moments at USC's Marks Stadium.

Tennis and Tacos

This weekend, USC men's tennis kicks off Pac-12 competition with matches against Oregon and Washington.

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The fifth-ranked Trojans are 17-3 on the season heading into tomorrow's matchup with the 23rd-ranked Ducks, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m. at Marks Stadium. The Kogi Truck will serve free tacos to the first 150 people in attendance. For those not in attendance, the match will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.

Saturday's match against the No. 32 Huskies begins at 1 p.m.

USC boasts two players ranked in singles (freshman Brandon Holt at No. 21 and sophomore Logan Smith at No. 47), while Oregon has one (No. 40 Thomas Laurent) and Washington has one (No. 89 Mitch Stewart).

The Trojans have never lost to Oregon in program history (22-0), despite a tough test in Eugene last year that saw USC pull off a 4-3 comeback victory. USC has a similarly impressive, though imperfect record against Washington (27-5 all-time).

Follow the team on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to stay in the loop on Trojan tennis!

The Streak

Tennis fans might know Steve Johnson as the United States' bronze-medal winning doubles player at the Rio Olympics, but the Orange County native made a name for himself at USC long before that.

While at USC, "Stevie" pulled off one of the most incredible accomplishments in the history of college tennis: a 72-match win streak that included two NCAA Singles Championships.

His fortitude helped lift the Trojans to four straight national titles as well (2009-10-11-12).

Check out The Streak, a short film by FloTennis detailing Johnson's legendary accomplishment.

Perfect 10

pac-12player-smith (1).jpg
After winning 10 straight singles matches and helping USC men's tennis go 4-1 in five matches this week, USC freshman Riley Smith has been named the Pac-12 Player of the Week.

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Against Lehigh, he and fellow freshman Brandon Holt clinched the doubles point in what would become a 7-0 win. He didn't play singles in that match, but in the second match of a double header that day, Smith made quick work of his Texas Tech singles opponent. His win proved crucial in USC's 4-3 win over the Red Raiders.

In USC's next three matches (vs. USF, Oklahoma and Baylor in the BNP Paribas Collegiate Challenge at Indian Wells), Smith went undefeated in both doubles and singles.

His efforts against the Bulls and the Sooners helped USC tally a 4-0 and 4-1 win, respectively, to advance to the final of the BNP Paribas Collegiate Challenge. In the championship match, the Trojans faced the Baylor Bears, whom they had defeated, 4-2, earlier this season.

But despite Smith helping USC win points in doubles and singles, the No. 7 Trojans fell, 4-3, to the No. 6 Bears.

Smith and the Trojans are having a strong year. While the team is 17-3 overall in dual match play, Smith himself is 14-1, with most of his individual wins coming at the No. 6 slot. He and Holt are 12-1 and ranked No. 19 in the nation together.

The Trojans get an extended break before hitting the court again vs. Oregon on March 31.

Lucky Number Seven

Yesterday, USC men's tennis won both ends of a double header to extend its current winning streak to seven matches.

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The seventh-ranked Trojans kicked off the day by besting the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, 7-0. After winning the doubles point, all six of USC's singles players defeated their opponents in straight sets.

Later in the day, the Trojans endured a much tougher test against Texas Tech. Despite dropping the doubles point on Court 1 to a Splash Brothers duo of sorts (TTU's Connor Curry and Bjorn Thomson), the Trojans rallied on Courts 2 and 3 to head into singles play with a slight lead.

USC survived losses on the top three singles courts to mount a 4-3 victory over the Red Raiders, with Jack Jaede (pictured) serving as the clincher on Court 4.

USC's current seven-match win streak is its longest since winning nine in a row to open up the 2015 season. The Trojans go for eight on Friday at the BNP Paribas Collegiate Challenge at Indian Wells.


Sweet Revenge

USC men's tennis avenged a loss to UCLA last month with a resounding win over the Bruins yesterday.

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On Feb. 17, the Trojans fell to UCLA, 4-3, at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. When No. 14 USC hosted its crosstown rival at Marks Stadium yesterday, though, it faced no such difficulty.

Just like in the first match, USC clinched the doubles point to take a one-point lead into singles play. But this time, the Trojans flipped the script and racked up three wins in singles to earn a 4-1 victory over 13th-ranked UCLA.

USC's Thibault Forget got revenge against UCLA's Austin Rapp, who beat him at the National Indoors tournament, to push USC's lead to 2-0 on the day. On Court 1, Brandon Holt followed suit with a straight-sets victory over Martin Redlicki, who got the better of him last month. The Trojans dropped a point on Court 2, but USC's Logan Smith clinched the match on Court 3.

Though the win doesn't count towards conference play, it pushed the Trojans to 13-2 on the season as they head into next Tuesday's double-header with Lehigh and Texas Tech.

Looking for Revenge

Tomorrow, USC men's tennis hosts UCLA, aiming to avenge its 4-3 loss to the Bruins last month.

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The Trojans are 12-2 on the season and ranked No. 14 in the nation, while the Bruins are ranked No. 13 at 8-3.

In their last meeting, USC won the doubles point, but UCLA evened things up and pushed it to 3-3. The match came down to Court 1, where UCLA's Martin Redlicki upset USC's Brandon Holt to clinch the victory. Since that loss, Holt has gone 3-1 in dual match play and the Trojans have won four straight.

USC's two most recent matches were tight 4-3 victories, in which the Trojans dropped the doubles point and had to claw their way back ahead. Prior to those two matches, USC had won every doubles point all season, and hopes to get back on track tomorrow.

Tomorrow's match kicks off at 3 p.m. at USC's Marks Stadium. Admission is free and open to the public, and the first 150 fans receive a free grilled cheese sandwich from the Grilled Cheese Truck.

Holt On

pac-12player-holt.jpgFreshman Brandon Holt of USC men's tennis was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week yesterday, for the first time in his young career.

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Holt, who was born in Torrance and went to high school at Palos Verdes, is USC's highest-ranked player at No. 27 in the nation. He's backed that ranking up with a 26-5 record as a Trojan (9-2 in dual match play). With partner Riley Smith, he ranks No. 29 in doubles as well, and leads the team in singles and doubles victories.

Playing at the No. 1 spot, Holt won both his singles matches in USC's tight victories last week. He topped No. 57 Ben Donovan of Cal Poly and upset No. 12 Tom Fawcett of Stanford in straight sets, in addition to racking up one win in doubles.

This certainly won't be the last conference award for Holt, who has tennis in his blood. His mother, Tracy (Austin) Holt, is a former world No. 1 and two-time U.S. Open champion, and his aunt and two uncles also played professional tennis. With forces like that guiding him, Holt is sure to become a staple of Trojan tennis.

To stay in the loop on Holt and the Trojans, follow USC men's tennis on Twitter and Instagram!

Four to Three Victory

USC men's tennis earned two hard-fought victories last week, topping Cal Poly and Stanford at home.

The No. 12 Trojans dropped the doubles point for the first time all season against No. 33 Cal Poly. But USC rung up four victories in singles (from Riley Smith, Rob Bellamy, No. 27 Brandon Holt and Jack Jaede) to clinch a 4-3 win over the Mustangs.

USC had to dig its way out of a 1-point deficit against No. 35 Stanford as well. After dropping the doubles point, Jaede evened things up with his 12th straight singles win. Holt, Smith, and No. 42 Logan Smith followed suit to help the Trojans lock up another 4-3 win.

The Trojans are now 12-2 on the season and undefeated at home. That unblemished home record will be put to the test when UCLA comes to Marks Stadium on March 9. The Trojans dropped a 4-3 match to the Bruins earlier this month on a neutral court, and are out for revenge. Next Thursday's match begins at 3 p.m.

Play Fair, Not Foul

USC men's tennis aims to improve upon its 10-2 record with two home matches this week.

Tomorrow, the No. 12 Trojans take on No. 33 Cal Poly, and on Friday, they face No. 35 Stanford in a nonconference match.

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USC is fresh off a trip to the ITA National Team Indoors, where the team bounced back from a first round loss to win two consolation matches.

The Trojans hope to keep the ball rolling against the Mustangs, who are 5-2 on the season. USC has never lost to Cal Poly in five all-time matchups, but the Mustangs are enjoying their highest ITA ranking since the team moved to Division I competition.

The match against Cal Poly will feature PlaySight technology as part of the PlayFair initiative, which aims to improve accuracy and cut down on cheating on line calls by providing multiple camera angles of the court.

USC is one of just a handful of schools implementing the technology this season.

Tomorrow's match against Cal Poly kicks off at 2 p.m., while Friday's match vs. Stanford begins at 3 p.m. at USC's Marks Stadium.

10 (O'Clock) and 2 (O'Clock)

usc-mens-tennis-etsu-012817-mcgillen-3716.jpgAfter a narrow loss in the opening round, USC men's tennis bounced back to win its last two matches of the ITA National Team Indoors Tournament this weekend and move to 10-2 on the season.

On Friday, the No. 9 Trojans squared up with No. 7 UCLA. USC took the doubles point, but the Bruins evened it up quickly in singles play. With the score knotted at 3 all, the match came down the Singles Court 1, where USC freshman Brandon Holt battled UCLA junior Martin Redlicki. Holt dropped the first set in a tiebreaker before winning the second, 6-3. The Bruin eked out a 6-4 victory in the third set to clinch a 4-3 win for UCLA.

USC had no time to sulk, as it jumped into consolation play the next day. The Trojans came out strong to sweep Utah State, 5-0.

The Trojans kept the winning spirit alive in their next match against No. 13 Baylor. After coming from behind to take the doubles point, USC dialed up three singles victories to earn a 4-2 win.

Despite the loss this weekend, USC has won the doubles point in all 12 matches and is also a perfect 7-0 at home. The Trojans look to extend that record with five upcoming matches at Marks Stadium. The homestand begins this Thursday against Cal Poly and continues Friday against Stanford.

No Double Trouble

USC men's tennis won both matches of a double-header as a last brush-up before heading off to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships next week.

Despite the matches being moved up a day to protect from poor weather conditions, USC cruised to two 6-1 victories.

The No. 9 Trojans kicked off the day by hosting San Francisco. USC took the doubles point with wins at the 2 and 3 spots, then rattled off three straight wins in singles to clinch the match. Singles victories from No. 36 Logan Smith, No. 119 Jack Jaede, Riley Smith, Laurens Verboven and Jens Sweaney carried USC to a 6-1 win.

After a quick break, the Trojans were back at it, this time against UC Davis. In similar fashion, the Trojans rung up a doubles point and three straight singles victories to clinch their eighth win of the season. Brandon Holt, USC's highest ranked player at No. 13, was the deciding player in USC's 6-1 victory.

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Next up for USC is a trip to Virginia for the ITA National Indoors. Last year, the Trojans fell in the quarterfinals of the tournament after making it to the championship in each of the four years before that.


Virginia is for Trojans

USC men's tennis punched its ticket to next month's ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Virginia by winning the ITA Kick-Off Weekend tournament this weekend.

In the first round of this weekend's tournament, the No. 8 Trojans shut out visiting East Tennessee State, 4-0. USC used a win in doubles and singles victories by Jack Jaede, Riley Smith and Nick Crystal to secure a spot in the championship match.

In the championship, USC faced USD, which beat Virginia Tech, 4-2, in the first round. The Trojans got off to a hot start again, easily winning the doubles point. They carried their momentum into singles play to win five of six matches for a 6-1 victory. Jaede, Smith and Crystal were all victorious once again, with Smith serving as the clincher.

The 5-0 Trojans are now guaranteed a spot in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, VA from Feb. 17-20. Before that, though, they head to Gainesville, FL to participate in the Pac-12/SEC Showdown from Feb. 4-5.

Kick It Off

USC men's tennis looks to build on its early success this season when it hosts USD, Virginia Tech and East Tennessee State at ITA Kick-Off Weekend.

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It's the ninth year in a row that the Trojans, ranked No. 8 in the nation in the latest ITA poll, were selected as one of 16 hosts of ITA Kick-Off Weekend. USD and VaTech face off first, before USC plays East Tennessee State at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The winners of each match will meet in the title game on Sunday at 1 p.m. The winner of that match punches its ticket to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, which take place in Virginia next month.

USC got off to a hot start this season, winning its first three matches. Four Trojans are ranked in singles (No. 20 Brandon Holt, No. 28 Logan Smith, No. 88 Nick Crystal and No. 114 Thibault Forget). Smith and Forget comprise the nation's No. 35 doubles team, while Smith and senior Rob Bellamy are ranked No. 49.

Follow @USCMensTennis on Twitter for updates this weekend!

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