Steve Johnson, Peter Smith Earn Pac-10 Top Honors
May 18, 2011
After completing a perfect Pac-10 season, the USC men's tennis team leads the pack once again with Trojans on top as Steve Johnson takes this year's Pac-10 Player of the Year award and head coach Peter Smith picks up his second straight honors as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year. The Pac-10 accolades pile up even higher as four more Trojans have landed spots on All-Pac-10 teams for 2011. Senior Jaak Poldma holds tight to All-Pac-10 First Team honors; freshman Ray Sarmiento opens his Trojan career on the All-Pac-10 Second Team; and junior Daniel Nguyen and freshman Emilio Gomez have earned All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention.
Steve Johnson is the seventh Trojan in Pac-10 history to be named a Pac-10 Player of the Year, and helps make it a third straight season with a Trojan picking up the Pac-10's top men's tennis honors. Robert Farah was a back-to-back recipient of the Player of the Year award the past two seasons, offering up a changing of the guard this year for Johnson to step in and take over. Johnson reigns supreme as the top-ranked player in the nation as he carries a 26-match singles winning streak into this week's NCAA Round of 16 match in the NCAA Team Championships. That streak includes a run to the 2011 Pac-10 Singles Championship, which he claimed at the start of the month just before also winning the 2011 Pac-10 Doubles Championship with teammate Ray Sarmiento. USC's top gun is currently 39-3 overall in singles play on the year has posted a 24-9 overall doubles mark that includes a 14-5 stretch with Sarmiento as that pair gets prepped to compete in the NCAA Doubles Championships next week.
This year's Pac-10 Coach of the Year award is the fourth of Peter Smith's career with the Trojans. He was the ITA National Coach of the Year last season in guiding USC to back-to-back NCAA championships, and he now has his Trojans in good position to defend those crowns at this week's NCAA Championships. Smith's USC squad closed out a perfect 6-0 season of Pac-10 play -- the first undefeated conference finish for USC since 1987. Almost equally significant was the fact that the win snapped a six-year skid of the Trojans falling to the Bruins in their annual Pac-10 match. It's USC's third Pac-10 title in the past four seasons, but the first outright championship in that stretch. Overall, USC has now claimed 32 Pac-10 titles -- shared and solo combined. With two wins last weekend in the NCAA First and Second Rounds, Smith's Trojans are 23-2 overall and riding a 16-match winning streak. Smith's first Pac-10 Coach of the Year award came in 2004, with consequent honors coming in 2007 and 2010 to set up back-to-back Coach of the Year honors with this season's selection.
Senior captain Jaak Poldma has hauled in his first All-Pac-10 First Team honors of his Trojan career as he rolls through a dominating final season at Troy. This marks his fourth straight season on the Pac-10 honor roll, putting top honors on his list that includes 2008 and 2009 All-Pac-10 Second Team awards and 2010 All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention. The senior is motoring through his best year to date on the way into his fourth straight NCAA Championships with the Trojans. He swept the SoCal Intercollegiate singles and doubles titles during the fall and went on a 19-match winning run during singles to currently grip a 29-4 overall singles record to go along with a 23-7 mark in doubles play. Ranked #38 in the nation in singles and #22 in doubles with JT Sundling, Poldma is on his way to double duty in the NCAA Individual Championships with a place in the singles and doubles draws. Also a Pac-10 All-Academic honoree, Poldma is a three-time Pac-10 Player of the Week and was selected to the 2009 NCAA All-Tournament Team when the Trojans won their first of back-to-back national championships.
Freshman Ray Sarmiento solidified his place in the conference thanks in large part to a perfect mark in Pac-10 dual-match singles play. Now an All-Pac-10 Second Team selection, he's gripping a 31-8 overall singles record and is ranked #47 in the nation as he heads into the NCAA Round of 16 before going up for NCAA Singles and Doubles competition with Johnson and Poldma. Ranked #25 in the nation in doubles with Johnson, the pair is 14-5 overall together while Sarmiento has gone 25-7 overall in doubles during his freshman campaign to date. He picked up a pair of Pac-10 Player of the Week awards on the way to capturing the 2011 Pac-10 Doubles Championship with Johnson early this month.
In his third year as a Trojan, junior Daniel Nguyen has his second set of All-Pac-10 honors. He'll carry his 2011 All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention into his first career appearance in the NCAA Singles Championships thanks to his #44 ranking in the national singles scene. Nguyen boasts a 26-12 overall singles record to date and has gone 18-10 in doubles action. Since joining the USC roster as a freshman, he's been a key member of the Trojans' back-to-back national championships, earning a spot on the 2009 NCAA All-Tournament Team and named the 2010 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
The newest addition to the USC roster, freshman Emilio Gomez jumped right into his life as a Trojan by kicking off the spring with four quick singles wins, a 5-0 doubles start with Nguyen, and Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. He's now on the list with All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention as he boasts a 21-5 overall singles record and a 15-8 doubles mark on the way into USC's NCAA Round of 16 action tomorrow.
No. 2-ranked USC's push for a third straight NCAA Championship continues tomorrow (May 19) in the NCAA Round of 16 against No. 15 seed Georgia Tech. The Trojans take on the Yellowjackets at 12 p.m. PT at Stanford's Taube Tennis Stadium for the right to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals on May 21.
2011 All-Pac-10 Men's Tennis Awards