Trojans capture doubles championship, consolation singles
Through two tournaments this weekend, No. 1 USC menâs tennis hoped to wrap up the fall preseason with one more fall singles title. Instead, they walked away with championships in doubles and consolation singles.
No. 66 sophomore Emilio Gomez paired up with freshman Yannick Hanfmann in the 55th Southern California Intercollegiate Championships at UCLA to capture the teamâs first fall doubles title.
As the No. 1 seed in the 16-team doubles draw, Gomez and Hanfmann defeated No. 2-seed UCLAâs Clay Thompson and Alex Brigham 8-4 yesterday. En route to the finals, Gomez and Hanfmann defeated pairs from UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and Concordia.
âThereâs a ton of room to improve, but itâs great they won today,â said USC coach Peter Smith. âTo beat a UCLA team â thatâs really good. Iâm happy about that.â
On the same day, USC freshman Eric Johnson upended fellow Trojan freshman Jonny Wang 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the consolation singles finals. After both losing in the first round in the main draw, the freshmen entered the 16-player consolation draw and won three consecutive matches before facing off in the finals.
âIt was fun playing a teammate. We both played really well,â Johnson said. âIt was a really tight first set, but in the second I pulled away with it.â
The two also joined forces in the doubles draw, but lost 5-8 in the quarterfinals to Brigham and Thompson.
Brigham and Thompson also ended singles main draw runs for No. 1-seed Hanfmann and No. 2-seed Gomez. Thompson, seeded No. 3, upset Hanfmann 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals, while Brigham defeated Gomez 2-6, 6-4, 1-6 in the Round of 16.
âThe key for this week was for the freshman to get some experience at UCLA, because the next time we go there, itâs not going to be so exciting,â Smith said.
USC sophomore Corey Smith also participated in the five-day competition, but could not make it out of the singles qualifying draw after losing to San Diegoâs Andrew Raphaelson 6-7, 1-6.
As the five Trojans battled in Southern California, two other USC players tackled some tough competition in the prestigious USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
No. 16 senior Daniel Nguyen and No. 15 sophomore Ray Sarmiento entered a 32-player singles main draw that featured the top college tennis players in the nation.
In the first round, Nguyen faced off against No. 1-seed freshman Mitchell Frank of Virginia, losing 2-6, 2-6 to the eventual champion of the tournament. Frank has yet to lose a singles match in his intercollegiate career.
â[Frank] rarely made any mistakes, maybe one or two unforced errors,â Nguyen said. âHe played solid and consistently throughout the match, and I made a few too many errors.â
Hours later, Sarmiento fell 4-6, 4-6 in the first round to No. 6-seed Chase Buchanan of Ohio State.
â[Buchanan] just starting pressing me more and being more aggressive,â Sarmiento said. âI started missing a lot, and he stepped up.â
Nguyen and Sarmiento then entered the consolation singles draw and both won a match before losing in the quarterfinals.
âThey couldâve done better,â Smith said. âThey just need to keep working. They can see that theyâre some of the best players in the country, but unless theyâre sharp and ready to go, theyâre going to lose.â
Sarmiento earned his bid to the tournament after winning the singles title in the ITA Southwest Regionals in Malibu two weeks ago, while Nguyen qualified for advancing past the quarterfinals in the ITA Menâs All-American Tournament in Tulsa, Okla. in early October.
The two tournaments end USCâs fall preseason, leaving the team with two singles, one doubles and one consolation singles title for the fall.
USCâs next action awaits in January at the Sherwood Collegiate cup before they kick off the spring season and begin their journey for a fourth consecutive NCAA championship.
âWe have to work our butts off,â Smith said. âWe have two months to get ready, and if we work hard, weâll have a chance to compete for a fourth.â