Historic Semifinal Slots For Johnson and Christian/Sanchez|
May 28, 2011
STANFORD, CALIF. -- It's been a long time coming, but USC's Steve Johnson and doubles duo of Kaitlyn Christian and Maria Sanchez have broken through sizable droughts of Trojan NCAA semifinalists. Top-seeded junior Johnson becomes the first Trojan male to move into the NCAA men's singles semifinals since 1997, and Christian/Sanchez have busted through to become the first Women of Troy ever to reach the NCAA women's doubles semifinals.
Christian and Sanchez have been on a mission in doubles play. Since getting embroiled in a tiebreak in their first set during the opening Round of 32, Christian/Sanchez have drilled out decisive wins the rest of the way. Today's lopsided win came at the expense of Washington's Chan/Dy, whom the Trojans had beaten in a much tighter match during Pac-10 play. This face-off was far different. Christian/Sanchez took care of business in this one to the tune of a 6-1, 6-4 victory that propels the Trojan freshman-senior combo into the NCAA Semifinals for the first time in history. Five USC teams in the past have reached the doubles quarterfinals, but the warpath that No. 3-seeded Christian/Sanchez are on has locked the pair into the history books as they continue their quest to claim USC's first-ever NCAA women's doubles crown. Christian/Sanchez will now face Clemson's Bek/Wong at 1 p.m. in tomorrow's semifinal at Stanford's Taube Tennis Stadium.
"I thought it was a good match," senior Sanchez said. "We had some really good points and played well together. I think we've just been getting better each day this week."
"I thought we came out ready to play and we did what we've been coming here to do, playing well as a team and keep moving through the draw," said Christian.
Meanwhile, on the men's side of the game, steamrolling Steve Johnson blasted his 33rd straight singles win during his NCAA quarterfinal match. Johnson was up against Ohio State freshman Blaz Rola, whom he had beaten back in the fall during the ITA National Indoor semifinals. Today's showdown between the Trojan junior and Rola saw Johnson fight hard through long games, methodically pacing his way past Rola with an aptly timed break in each set on the way to a 6-3, 6-3 victory. The win launches top-seeded Johnson into another rematch. This one is a much fresher face-off, as Johnson goes up against Virginia's Michael Shabaz - whom Johnson beat 7-6 (2), 6-3 during USC's NCAA Team Championship win over the Cavaliers earlier this week. Johnson and Shabaz will square off in tomorrow's semifinals at 1 p.m. as Johnson becomes the first Trojan since 1997 to reach the NCAA men's singles semifinals. That year, USC's George Bastl would fall in the singles title match. Johnson is looking to become USC's first NCAA men's singles champion since Cecil Mamiit won it all in 1996. If he does so, Johnson will be the first player since 2004 to win both the NCAA Team Championship and Singles Championship in the same year.
2011 NCAA SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIPS (Stanford, Calif.)
2011 NCAA DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIPS