With the ITA/D’Novo All-American Championship players scheduled to play in Tulsa throughout the upcoming week, three younger Trojans helped build up their individual rèsumès in San Francisco.
Second-seeded freshman Raymond Sarmiento had quite a day Sunday, as he came from behind to win the singles final 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. He also won the doubles final paired with sophomore JT Sundling 8-2.
In addition to the finals appearance in doubles, Sundling gave a strong performance in the singles draw. He beat USF’s Ola Bakke and Ben McLachlan in two straight sets. No. 1 seed Thai Tu, who Sarmiento defeated in the finals, took out Sundling 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinal round. Still, USC coach Peter Smith sees a lot of positives from the sophomore’s performance.
“We have been playing great tennis,” Smith said. “JT played a good match with the No. 1 seed. He has been a much improved player from last year.”
Freshman Michael Grant also competed over at the Battle in the Bay, and all three Trojans had at least one win during the weekend in the unique setting for tennis.
“It’s a really amazingly cool club right in the heart of San Francisco,” Smith said. “So far it has been a fun experience to be at.”
Grant won his opening match against USF’s Richard Bucalem 7-5, 6-2, but fell short to Riki McLachlan the next round.
In his first appearance for the Trojans, Grant has demonstrated that he has the tools to contribute to the championship-level tennis expected of the USC team.
“Grant has shown flashes of being a great player,” Smith said. “There is something to build on.”
In Sarmiento’s run to the singles title, he only dropped one set in four matches.
Sarmiento’s biggest contribution could come on the doubles court, and Smith feels that his skills translate well even though he still needs to develop.
“Ray has a lot of great doubles skills,” Smith said. “He needs more consistency in his game. He is a human highlight reel, but for every two highlights there is one lowlight.”
With more focus on fundamentals, Smith feels that Sarmiento will harness his athleticism and become an excellent doubles player.
“We would like him to become more boring on the court,” Smith said. “He is a talented athlete and a good player. With better foot work and shot selection he could have a very bright future.”