Johnson wins NCAA singles championship

After leading the USC men’s tennis team to an NCAA title for the third year in a row, junior Steve Johnson claimed his own title as the 2011 NCAA singles champion.

Winner · Junior Steve Johnson defeated Tennesse’s Rhyne Williams to capture his first NCAA individual title. Johnson became the first Trojan to capture the singles crown since Cecil Mamiit in 1996 and the 12th in USC history to do so. - Summer Trojan file photo

Johnson defeated Tennessee’s Rhyne Williams on Monday at Stanford’s Taube Stadium, his 35th consecutive singles win.

The first set was close, with Williams taking the lead, pulling away during the first game after a strong start.

By the second set, Johnson took charge and dominated the final two sets, leaving no doubt who the best player on the court was.

“When I got off that game to go up 2-0 in the third, I was going to do anything it took to hold on,” Johnson said. “I was fortunate enough to hold and hold on the sunny side [of the court] which has been tough all day. Then I was fortunate enough to get that break at 4-1.”

Williams had defeated Johnson 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 during the ITA National Indoor Championship in November.

The final match marked Johnson’s fourth title match this month.

“I still [have] no words to describe this week and the team and now this individual [title],” Johnson said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet and I don’t think it’ll sink in for a while.”

The last Trojan to win the NCAA singles title was Cecil Mamiit in 1996. Johnson became the 12th Trojan to win the title.

“That court was good to us this week,” said USC coach Peter Smith. “It’s indescribable.”

Johnson became USC’s first to win both the team and singles championships in the same year since Joaquin Loyo-Mayo in 1969, and the first player to do so since 2004.