A perfect 8-0 singles record this season is a big feat, but the only bigger feat for USC sophomore Emilio Gomez was hoisting the singles trophy at the Battle in the Bay Classic this weekend.
Gomez, ranked No. 66 in International Tennis Association rankings and seeded No. 2 in the tournament, defeated Pepperdine’s Hugh Clarke 6-4, 6-3 in the Battle in the Bay Classic finals in San Francisco to take home the singles title. With the victory over Clarke, Gomez remains undefeated in singles play and becomes the second consecutive USC player to win the singles title in the Battle in the Bay Classic.
Gomez’s victories over Stanford’s Robert Stineman, Pacific’s Alex Golding, San Diego’s Thibaut Visy and Boise State’s Andy Bettles in the four-day competition set up the finals matchup against Clarke.
Through five matches in San Francisco, Gomez lost just one set. Visy, who defeated USC freshman Eric Johnson in the second round, captured the first set against Gomez in the quarterfinals 6-1. Gomez bounced back by winning the next two sets 6-3, 6-1 to take the match before his 6-2, 6-3 win over Bettles in the semifinals.
Gomez and freshman Eric Johnson also paired up in the 16-team doubles bracket, advancing to the semifinals before losing 7-9 to a Pepperdine team that included Clarke and sophomore David Sofaer.
“We played pretty well altogether,” Johnson said. “There wasn’t anything strategically I would have done differently. We played a good match.”
Clarke and Sofaer eventually garnered the doubles title over Stanford’s Stineman and Walker Kehrer with an 8-5 win.
In other singles draw play, freshman Jonny Wang barely missed a trip to the semifinals, falling to Stanford’s Daniel Ho in a narrow 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-7 (2) loss on Saturday. Before this quarterfinal matchup, Wang had upended both Saint Mary’s Gavin Leon and Boise State’s Garrett Patton in straight sets.
“I definitely could work on getting balls deeper and being more aggressive, but I think I was pretty consistent throughout the matches,” Wang said.
Johnson also represented USC in the singles draw, advancing past the first round by taking advantage of Saint Mary’s Saad Benkirane’s weaker forehand in a 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 comeback on Thursday.
San Diego’s Visy ended Johnson’s run with a 6-1, 6-1 victory in the second round Friday.
“[Visy] had very good defense,” Johnson said. “My offense was doing well. I just wasn’t finishing points very well, and that’s not going to work.”
Had Johnson advanced, he would have faced Gomez in the quarterfinals.
After traveling over the country for four different fall tournaments, the USC’s men’s tennis team will finally get some action closer to home in the ITA Southwest Regional Championships in Pepperdine, Calif. from Thursday through next Monday.