NEW YORK – Coming off the first two wins in program history in the NCAA Tournament, the Columbia men’s tennis team will journey to Athens, Georgia this weekend to take on top-ranked Southern California in the Round of 16. First serve at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on the campus of the University of Georgia is set for 9 a.m. Friday, May 16.
SCOUTING NO. 16 COLUMBIA
Columbia advanced to the Round of 16 with a pair of determined victories last weekend in Nashville, Tenn. Facing No. 68 East Tennessee State in the tournament opener, Columbia burned through doubles play to earn the point before capturing the first three singles contests to take a 4-0 victory.
The following afternoon pitted the Lions against No. 19 Vanderbilt for a gritty match from. Vanderbilt held the early lead taking the doubles point, but Columbia battled back to take a 3-2 lead in singles play. Vanderbilt was able to even the match with a win at No. 3 singles, but Columbia’s top player, and the 17th-ranked player in the nation, Winston Lin rallied after dropping the opening set to win the next two, 6-3, 6-4, topping No. 21 Gonzales Austin.
Lin, the Ivy League Player of the Year, remains unbeaten during the dual season at 16-0. Teammate Mike Vermeer posted a pair of wins in Nashville to also maintain his unblemished record, sporting an 18-0 mark heading into Friday’s matchup against the Trojans. Also winning a pair of singles matches last weekend was junior Ashok Narayana at No. 4, sweeping both his matches in straight sets.
In doubles, Lin and Vermeer scored victories against both the Bucs and Commodores to improve to 5-0 at No. 3 and 15-7 overall. Narayana and doubles partner Max Schnur clinched the doubles point against ETSU with an 8-6 victory, but had its nine-match win streak snapped against No. 4 Austin and Ryan Lipman from Vanderbilt.
SCOUTING NO. 1 USC
The Trojans earned a spot in Friday’s Round of 16 with a 4-0 shutout of Idaho and a 4-1 downing of Oklahoma State. USC is in the midst of its eighth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, winning national titles in four straight years from 2009-12.
Despite losing in the PAC-12 Championship match to No. 5 UCLA, 4-2, the Trojans sport the top ranking in the nation and were slotted as that respective seed in the NCAA Tournament.
In the latest ITA singles rankings released on May 1, USC was represented by five players in the top-100. Senior Ray Sarmiento leads the way with a national ranking of No. 9. Lin and Sarmiento went head-to-head at the ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in 2012, with the Trojan barely edging out the Lion in three sets. Joining Sarmiento in the national singles rankings is Yannick Hanfmann (No. 10), Roberto Quiroz (No. 42), Jonny Wang (No. 57) and Max de Vroome (No. 91).
In the doubles rankings, Hanfmann and Sarmiento team up to create the nation’s top-ranked duo, while Nick Crystal and Michael Grant are ranked No. 68.