Three Trojans from the No. 1 USC men’s tennis will have another swing at a national singles title at the Battle in the Bay Classic today through Sunday in San Francisco.
No. 66 sophomore Emilio Gomez and freshmen Eric Johnson and Jonny Wang will represent USC.
The three will participate in a 32-player singles field, and Gomez and Johnson will also pair up in a 16-team doubles bracket.
The competition, hosted by the University of San Francisco, begins today at 9 a.m. at the California Tennis Club. Singles and doubles play will run until Sunday, with the doubles final beginning at 10 a.m., followed by the singles final at 2:30 p.m.
Last year at the Battle in the Bay Classic, USC sophomore No. 15 Ray Sarmiento took home a singles title after dispatching four consecutive opponents in a 16-player draw.
Despite an opportunity to defend his title, Sarmiento will not participate after reaching the consolation quarterfinals at the Men’s All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla., last week.
Despite Sarmiento’s accomplishments last year, the players feel little pressure to defend his title.
“I just really want to go in and work on things that coaches have wanted me to do,” Johnson said. “Feeling better and getting some good matches in is my main goal.”
Wang has a similar mentality.
“I don’t really feel any pressure at all,” Wang said. “I just want to do my best and see where that takes me.”
Gomez, a native Ecuadorian, hopes to continue his undefeated singles run after going 3-0 at the Fall Chowder Fest in Cambridge, Mass., last month, while the freshmen are ready for additional collegiate experience after their efforts at the Fresno State Bulldog Classic in early October. Johnson reached the quarterfinals of the main singles draw, while Wang battled to the semifinals in the Flight B singles bracket.
The various fall tournaments provide opportunities for USC’s veterans and newcomers to hone their skills for the upcoming spring season.
“I’ve been working on my serve a lot, being aggressive and trying to move forward,” Johnson said. “All of those combined are really important for my game to be successful.”
Along with preseason practice, the Battle in the Bay Classic will offer USC an early conference preview of fellow Pac-12 schools. Players from No. 7 Stanford and No. 14 Cal, including Cal junior Riki McLachlan, who reached the semifinals of the tournament last year, will compete.
After the Battle in the Bay, USC will participate in just four more tournaments before kicking off the Intercollegiate Tennis Association season in January.