The UCLA men's tennis team, defending NCAA champion, will try to regain sole possession of first place in the Pacific 10 Conference Southern Division when it hosts USC at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the UCLA campus.
The Bruins and the Trojans are 6-1 in the Pac 10, and each has a win over the other. USC took a 5-3 decision in a tournament in Kentucky in early February and the Bruins won, 5-4, in a conference match at USC in late March.
Coach Glenn Bassett's Bruins, 22-3 overall, last week defeated Cal, 6-3, but lost their first Pac-10 match, 5-4, to Stanford, the nation's top-ranked squad, which is 4-1 in the league and has road matches this weekend at Arizona and Arizona State, both weak in league play.
In national rankings, USC and Southern Methodist are tied for second, UCLA is fourth and Pepperdine is fifth.
On paper, USC appears to have the edge over UCLA. Three Trojans are ranked among the nation's top singles players: No. 4 Todd Witsken, No. 11 Rick Leach and No. 17 Jorge Lozano.
The top-ranked UCLA players are No. 9 Michael Kures, No. 12 Jeff Klaparda (tied with Paul Lobban of Utah) and No. 22 Brad Pearce, who teams with fellow freshman Ken Diller in a potent doubles combination.
The home-court advantage may be a factor for UCLA, which finishes league play at home next weekend, playing Stanford at 1 p.m. April 19 and Cal at 1 p.m. April 20.
The Pepperdine men's tennis team, 24-4 overall and on a 15-match winning streak, will entertain UC Santa Barbara at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Malibu.
Nationally ranked Pepperdine players include No. 19 Dani Leal, who is 19-6 in singles, and No. 21 Carlos DiLaura (13-9), both sophomores. Junior Kelly Jones, defending NCAA doubles champion, is 21-4 in singles and has won 15 straight doubles matches with partner DiLaura.
The big surprise of the season has been sophomore walk-on Marty Laurendau, who started the season unlisted in the top 100 players but is now No. 45 after compiling a 28-0 record in singles.
Allen Fox, coach of the Waves, said Laurendau's play "has been remarkable. It has been fun just to watch the improvements he has made in the past year."
Fox said that his team, all underclassmen, has an outside chance to win the NCAA championship. "I think Stanford is the clear-cut favorite on paper. But I don't think you can count teams such as USC, UCLA, SMU or ourselves out. Strange things can happen in tennis because so much hinges on momentum."
The Pepperdine men's volleyball team, which won its first California Intercollegiate title last week to clinch an automatic berth in the NCAA final four, will play at UC San Diego at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Last week Coach Marv Dunphy's Waves clinched the league title by defeating perennial NCAA champion UCLA in five games at Pauley Pavilion and then won a home match from UC Santa Barbara.
"It was satisfying to clinch the league title with a win at UCLA because they have been our nemesis for so long," Dunphy said. "The Bruins have a great tradition, and I suspect they will be heard from at the Western Regionals. As for ourselves, we can concentrate on fine-tuning our game for the NCAAs."
The NCAA semifinal and championship matches will be played May 3-4 at Pauley.
The UCLA men's track team, 7-0 in dual meets, will face its stiffest challenge at Eugene on Saturday against NCAA champion Oregon (2-0).
The Ducks will run without Joaquim Cruz, who won NCAA championships last year at 800 and 1,500 meters. Cruz is redshirting.
The best match-up figures to be UCLA's Jack Preijers against Oregon's Dub Myers in the 800. Preijers, whose best is 1:47.7, and Myers (1:47.51), who placed third in the 1,500 at last year's NCAAs, are ranked one-two in the Pac 10 in the 800.
UCLA Coach Bob Larsen said Oregon has scored more than 100 points twice this season. "We've lost to them the last four times we've met, and (there is) the weather.
"Our team has been competing exceptionally well. But to try to do that in Eugene, where the weather is always such a factor . . . and to be able to concentrate in spite of the great crowd support for Oregon will present tremendous challenges for our young team."
Pepperdine's baseball team, 30-7-1 and ranked ninth in the nation, will play a three-game Western Athletic Conference series at home this weekend with the University of San Diego. Friday's game will start at 2:30 p.m., followed by a double-header at noon Saturday.
Last week Coach Dave Gorrie's Waves took a firm hold on first place in the WAC by sweeping a three-game series from second-place St. Mary's. Pepperdine raised its league record to 10-2, and St. Mary's dropped to 6-6.
Gorrie said his club, which has won five straight, has been turning in "some timely hitting and solid pitching performances. (But) the team defense is superb. We just do not give up cheap runs; other teams have to earn everything."
The Waves, looking to make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1982, will host defending NCAA champion Cal State Fullerton at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Eddy D. Field Stadium on the Malibu campus.