Men's Tennis
    Trojans Are National Champions!
    USC wins the 2009 NCAA Championship
    USC wins the 2009 NCAA Championship

    May 19, 2009

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    COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS - The USC men's tennis team wrapped up an outstanding NCAA tournament run by capturing one last upset win as the Trojans' train charged to the 2009 NCAA Championship with a 4-1 victory over Ohio State. USC had entered the tourney fresh off a tough second-place finish in the Pac-10, but went up to serve up some shocking upsets in NCAA action to claim the Trojans' 17th NCAA team title. USC finishes out 2009 with a 25-5 overall record -- the same mark it hit in 2002 when it won its last national championship. As a whole, it is USC's 110th national championship as a university, including a national best 75 men's NCAA team titles.

    For its winning 2009 run, USC had returned to the same site it won that last national championship - College Station, Texas. The No. 8-seeded Trojans made the courts of Texas A&M's George P. Mitchell Tennis Center feel like home by opening with a tight win over fellow Pac-10 power Stanford. USC went on to swivel some heads by dealing out a 4-0 sweep of top-seeded and undefeated Virginia in the quarterfinals. Next up was a 4-1 win over Texas in semifinal in front of a Longhorn-heavy crowd to move into the title match for the first time since 2002. Up against No. 3 seed Ohio State, the Trojans dug deep for one final upset to snag that championship trophy.

    USC's championship effort began on the doubles courts. While #4 Robert Farah / Steve Johnson got an early win with an 8-3 victory over Kronauge/Allare at No. 1, the Buckeyes brought it back even on an 8-4 win at No. 2 by Uzawa/Koniecko over USC's #59 Abdullah Magdas / Daniel Nguyen. On court three, the Trojans and the Buckeyes traded breaks to fall on serve at 6-6. A hold from Poldma was answered by an Ohio State hold to make it 7-7. Kecki held tight next for the USC edge, and the Trojans brought it home with one final big break to wrap up the doubles point for USC with a 9-7 win over Buchanan/Moneke.

    USC had been warned of Ohio State's powerful singles lineup, but the Trojans made early dents in the Buckeyes thanks to wins at No. 6 and No. 4. Freshman Daniel Nguyen put the Trojans on their next step forward to the title as he steamrolled from the No. 6 slot. Nguyen blanked his Buckeye opponent in the first set and finished out a 6-0, 6-2 win over Chase Buchanan to boost USC ahead 2-0. After having his previous two matches suspended with USC wins, Nguyen's win in today's final was his eighth straight victory to finish out his freshman year with a 33-9 overall singles record.

    At No. 4, Abdullah Magdas had claimed the quarterfinal clincher days before, and the senior was bound and determined to round out his Trojan career with a big win. Two dominant sets later, he had done just that, pounding out a 6-2, 6-3 win over #113 Matt Allare to put USC a point away from the title. With his third win of the NCAA run, Magdas winds up with a 26-13 overall record in singles play.

    On court three, USC's #81 Jaak Poldma was up against one of Ohio State's three top-25 players. Poldma was edged out in the first set on a tiebreak and fell prey to a couple breaks by OSU's #25 Justin Kronouge as the Buckeyes made it 3-1 in the match with a 7-6 (1), 6-4 win at No. 3.

    Ohio State's win at No. 3 shifted momentum a bit on court two, but did nothing to throw junior Robert Farah. While USC's #53 freshman Steve Johnson headed into a third set against #9 Steve Moneke at No. 2, #8 Farah took control in his third set against #3 Bryan Koniecko at No. 1. Farah had dropped the first set thanks to a late break from Koniecko, but the Trojan junior roared back to take the second in commanding fashion. On serve for the first half of the third set, Farah made his move by getting up a break at 4-3. At the line for the opportunity to serve out the match, Farah did just that, rifling in an ace to secure the 2009 national championship for USC with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 comeback win on court one. It was Farah's second clinching win of the NCAA tournament and his fifth straight victory in NCAA play to lift the junior to a 31-6 overall singles record.

    Farah and Johnson are both lined up for NCAA Singles and Doubles competition, which will run May 20-25. Farah is the No. 8 seed in singles play, and Johnson carries a 33-12 overall record into his first NCAA singles tournament. In doubles, Farah/Johnson are 34-10 overall and are a 5-8 seed in the doubles play, which begins on May 21.

    Farah's NCAA championship-clincher brought Johnson off court two and freshman Matt Kecki off court six. Kecki was battling through a long match with #74 Balazs Novak, suspended at 5-7, 3-3. Johnson's match with #9 Moneke was stopped at 7-6 (4), 4-6. Kecki's freshman season with a 27-12 overall record.

    The 2009 NCAA Championship is the first for USC head coach Peter Smith, who had tallied his 400th career victory in the Trojans' quarterfinal upset of No. 1 Virginia. Today's title match was also Smith's first visit to the NCAA final. Now with 17 NCAA team titles all-time, USC is tied with Stanford for the most men's tennis national championships. USC pulls even with the Cardinal in the title count for the first time since 1997 when Stanford won its 15th championship.

    NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
    May 19, 2009 - College Station, Texas
    #8 USC 4, #3 Ohio State 1
    DOUBLES
    (1) #4 Farah/Johnson (USC) def. Allare/Kronauge (OSU) - 8-3
    (2) Uzawa/Koniecko (OSU) def. #59 Magdas/Nguyen (USC) - 8-4
    (3) Kecki/Poldma (USC) def. Buchanan/Moneke (OSU) - 9-7*
    Order of finish: 1, 2, 3
    USC wins doubles point.
    SINGLES
    (1) #8 Robert Farah (USC) def. #3 Bryan Koniecko (OSU) - 5-7, 6-1, 6-4*
    (2) #53 Steve Johnson (USC) vs. #9 Steven Moneke (OSU) - 7-6 (4), 4-6, susp.
    (3) #25 Justin Kronauhe (OSU) def. #81 Jaak Poldma (USC) - 7-6 (1), 6-4
    (4) #106 Abdullah Magdas (USC) def. #113 Matt Allare (OSU) - 6-2, 6-3
    (5) Matt Kecki (USC) vs. Balasz Novak (OSU) - 5-7, 3-3 susp.
    (6) Daniel Nguyen (USC) def. Chase Buchanan (OSU) - 6-0, 6-2
    Order of finish: 4, 6, 3, 1

    NCAA NOTES & QUOTES

    POSTMATCH NOTES

    With the victory, USC wins its 17th overall national championship in men's tennis...USC's last championship was in 2002 in College Station...USC'S 17 national titles ties Stanford for the most national championships and it also is the first time since 1997 that USC has shared the title lead (Stanford won its 15th that year)...Ohio State was making its first-ever national championship match appearance...OSU's previous best-NCAA finish was a quarterfinal appearance in 2008...Men's NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team: No. 1 Doubles: Robert Farah / Steve Johnson, USC; No. 2 Doubles: Amit Inbar/Holden Seguso, UCLA; No. 3 Doubles: Matt Kecki/Jaak Poldma, USC; No. 1 Singles: Robert Farah, USC; No. 2 singles: Steven Moneke, Ohio State; No. 3 singles: Justin Kronauge, Ohio State; No. 4 singles: Holden Seguso, UCLA; No. 5 singles: Michael Look, UCLA; No. 6 singles: Daniel Nguyen, USC.

    POSTMATCH QUOTES

    USC Head Coach Peter Smith
    "I am in shock. It started in the semis. I didn't even think we could beat Texas. Then when we did, I thought, `we can never beat Ohio State.' Then late last night, I realized that we could beat these guys. I don't really believe it right now. I thought all season long that Ohio State was the team to beat. It is great for us to win it this time around. I knew we had the better doubles team and knew we had to win the doubles point to win the match. We really needed it to believe we had a shot at this. It was nice to have it with limited drama. I had faith in all my guys to do what they needed to do. It is great to have Robert (Farah). He has become such a championship player. I am glad to be their coach, to be able to teach them to teach others. This season has just been a great experience for us. It hasn't all been easy. We have had our issues, but we were able to overcome them to get to this point. To start three freshmen and win the NCAAs is just a great achievement."

    USC junior Robert Farah
    (On playing OSU's Bryan Koniecko)
    "He is a good player. He really makes you work off of the serve. Then after I was down a little bit, I started focusing on my serve and that really helped me out. I sat down when it was 5-4 and just tried to take as much time as I could to concentrate. I think one of the hardest things in this sport is to just sit down and take control of the moment and gather yourself to compete at your best. I was just glad to be able to close the match. I have done it a couple of times, and I am getting better at competing in that situation."

    Ohio State Head Coach Ty Tucker
    "It was a tough day for us. I feel bad for our seniors as they played their last match for us. They really meant a lot to this program, and we wouldn't be where we are without them. These guys put it all on the line, and left nothing out there, so I feel bad for them. This is a physical sport. Every team gets banged up after three matches in a row. USC beat us fair and square, and we lost. We put our six guys out on the court and just didn't get it done. We have bangs and bruises, but we have band-aids to keep on playing. That is what we have to do. We had about 20-25 minutes of bad play, but we started to right the ship. It just wasn't in time. We tried to show people our talent instead of just winning the point. When you show off, it comes back to bite you. This was a long season. We laughed, yelled, played cards, and really had a great time together. We are 71-4 in the last two years. The Big Ten is hard to win in. My guys stepped up day in and day out and didn't take anybody for granted. They really take their craft seriously."

    OSU senior Bryan Koniecko
    "I knew I was going to have to hang with Robert (Farah) because he is a front runner. I just wasn't able to take advantage of some opportunities that he gave me. He served it well the last two games, and I just didn't hang with it. He played a great match."