Trojans compete on both east and west coast over weekend
Sunday was a day of championship matches on both the East and West Coasts for the USC menâs tennis team.
No. 7 seed junior Steve Johnson fell short in his bid to repeat as champion of the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in Flushing, N.Y., to Tennesseeâs sophomore Rhyne Williams. Williams defeated Johnson in the Round of 16 of the NCAA singles competition in May.
After winning the first set 6-1, Johnson was not able to pull off the victory, falling short 1-6, 4-6 in the final two sets.
âI came out to a really good start,â Johnson said. âThe second set got away from me a bit, and I had chances in the third set, but I just didnât capitalize.â
Johnson was ahead 4-3 in the third set with a couple chances to break Williamsâ serve. Williams broke in the next game at 4-4, for the decisive advantage.
âIt was a bit unfortunate for Steve,â associate head coach George Husack said. âHe fended off one match point but could not hold off Williams.â
Overall, Johnsonâs performance in the tournament solidified his status as a force to be reckoned with in college tennis.
âSteve was on his game,â said Husack of his play throughout the weekend. âHe proved he is one of the best players in the country, but he also proved that his is not invincible. For him, last year [winning the tournament] was unexpected. This year, he was expected to compete, and that brings about more pressure. He did a great job all week, but he had a couple of bad breaks at the end.â
Even with the disappointing end to his tournament, Johnson relished the opportunity to play at Flushing Meadows.
âItâs fantastic. New York is a great environment for tennis,â Johnson said. âIt is kind of an honor to play at the site of the U.S. Open.â
Senior Jaak Poldma and sophomore JT Sundling also had busy days with two matches to decide championships at the Southern California Intercollegiate Championships at the Los Angeles Tennis Center in Westwood, Calif.
No. 2 Poldma and Sundling won 8-5 in the doubles main draw final against No. 1-seeded Hugh Clarke and Alex Llompart of Pepperdine to start off the day.
Poldma continued his winning ways in the championship match of the singles main draw against UCLAâs Maxime Tabatruong in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.
Sundling barely lost in the singles consolation final against freshman Daniel Kosakowski of UCLA in a third set super tie break 3-6, 6-4, 10-8.
âItâs always fun to go to UCLA and win,â coach Peter Smith said. âWe played some good tennis, and we have been doing the right thing. Thursday we had some tough matches, but it was great to see Jaak get his name in the record books with two wins.â
Poldma has not always achieved success during the fall season, but Smith mentioned he gave a tough and opportunistic effort that provided a good example for the rest of his teammates.
The pair of Sundling and Poldma provide Smith with an option that combines the best talents of each individual.
âItâs a team Iâve always liked,â said Smith. âThey are different players who can help each other. JT is strong at the net, while Jaak has an intensity that JT can feed off of.â