NCAA Tennis Round of 32 Recap|
May 26, 2011
STANFORD, CALIF. - USC had a busy day of NCAA Round of 32 matches today, but the beat goes on for four Trojans in their quests for singles and doubles glory. On the men's singles side of the game, Steve Johnson and Ray Sarmiento are through to the Round of 16 tomorrow, as is the women's doubles duo of Kaitlyn Christian and Maria Sanchez.
Four of the five Trojan singles players had drawn up matches against Pac-10 opponents. By day's end, USC had one new singles All-American to join its two card-holding All-Americans in top seed Steve Johnson and No. 2 seed Maria Sanchez. Freshman Ray Sarmiento punched his ticket for All-American status by securing a spot in tomorrow's Round of 16 singles with another impressive three-set battle that saw Sarmiento upend his Bruin opponent, Amit Inbar. That follows up an upset served up by Sarmiento in yesterday's first round, and set up the freshman for a Round of 16 matchup with Mississippi's Marcel Thiemann.
Junior Steve Johnson his statement early, taking a stand against UCLA's Daniel Kosakowski for his morning Round of 32 singles match. After Kosakowski held serve in the first set, Johnson took control and led the rest of the way. The NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player went on cruise control for the rest of the match, drilling out a 6-2, 6-1 victory that sets him up for a trip to tomorrow's Round of 16 against either No. 9-16 seed John-Patrick Smith of Tennessee. Johnson now carries a 31-match win streak into the next round. He hasn't given up a set in his last 13 matches now, including two suspended matches during team play.
The 2011 ITA Senior Player of the Year, Maria Sanchez had a tough day at the service line in her Round of 32 matchup against Cal's Mari Andersson. No. 2-seeded Sanchez would fall in the first and make it a tight second set before Andersson pulled ahead and held her serves to win it with a 6-2, 6-3 decision. That loss wraps up an illustrious singles career for Sanchez at USC. The ITA National Indoor Champion and Pac-10 Player of the Year finishes her senior season with a 36-5 overall singles record - her best season as a Trojan. Her career singles mark stands at a dominating 116-36.
Later in the day, Sanchez teamed up with her ITA Southwest Region Player to Watch Kaitlyn Christian for doubles action as the No. 3 seeded team in the mix. But first, there was a lot more Trojan tennis to be played.
Freshman Ray Sarmiento took the court next, up against UCLA's Amit Inbar. Inbar came out of the gates firing on all cylinders against the USC freshman. But a 1-6 hole did nothing to deter Sarmiento on his quest. A mid-set break put the Trojan up 4-2, and the players held serve the rest of the way to bring up a third set. That one got locked up 5-5 before Sarmiento grabbed another break, then held to lock down a 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 comeback for a spot in tomorrow's NCAA Singles Round of 16.
On the women's side, USC sophomore Danielle Lao was up against Stanford's Nicole Gibbs in her Round of 32 match for the day. Gibbs got the early upper hand and snagged the first set. Lao got up a break to kick off the second, but Gibbs answered back and would move on to record a 6-2, 6-1 decision over the Trojan. That wraps up a great second year as a Trojan for Lao, who was an All-Pac-10 Second Team selection and reigned as the ITA Southwest Singles Champion. She closes down 2011 with a 26-13 overall singles record.
The last of the singles play for the Trojans was junior Daniel Nguyen, who got underway soon after Lao. The lone Trojan not to face a Pac-10 opponent in singles today, Nguyen squared off against Illinois' Dennis Nevolo for Round of 32 action. The team championship clincher got himself engaged in another three-set battle for the third straight day. A gutsy second set by Nguyen pushing things into a third, but Nevolo was able to crawl out to a 5-2 advantage before Nguyen was forced to retire from the match due to a shoulder injury. The decision wrapped up Nguyen's NCAA singles run in the Round of 32. An All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention recipient, he finishes the 2011 season with a 29-13 overall singles record to go along with his third straight NCAA Team Championship.
After her disappointing singles loss in the morning, USC's powerhouse Maria Sanchez combined forces with freshman Kaitlyn Christian, as the doubles draw's No. 3 seeded pair. The Women of Troy got down to business and forced their way through a first-set tiebreak and then picked up the pace for a powerful 7-6, 6-1 win over Duke's Fahoum/Nze. Also holding All-American status, Christian/Sanchez now move into the Round of 16 for a clash with Notre Dame's Frilling/Matthews tomorrow.
Taking losses today in the opening rounds of doubles play were two Trojan teams. After prevailing in singles earlier in the day, Johnson and Sarmiento joined up for doubles play, and ran out of steam in their matchup with Ohio State's Buchanan/Rola to take a 6-2, 7-5 loss. The 2011 Pac-10 Doubles champions wrap up the year with a 14-6 overall record together.
On the women's side, USC's Valeria Pulido and Alison Ramos had a battle with Virginia's Fraser/Tomljanovic. The Trojan tandem fell in the first, but rallied to take the second set. The Cavaliers made a third-set push, however, and managed a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Pulido/Ramos that closes out the pair's 2011 campaign with an 18-10 overall record together.
2011 NCAA SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIPS