USC seniors Steve Johnson and Daniel Nguyen entered college four years ago looking to accomplish something special together.
The two clutch seniors can without a doubt say they have done that now as the USC Trojans captured their fourth consecutive NCAA team title by defeating the Virginia Cavaliers for the second straight year in the finals, with the score being 4-2 this year.
In college tennis, there are three doubles matches played and six singles matches. A team must win two of the three doubles matches to earn the all important doubles point. Then all six singles matches are worth a point, and the first team to four points wins.
When these two teams competed for the title last year, USC won the doubles point and ended up winning the match 4-3, so it was proved then how crucial the doubles point is.
This year, the Cavaliers jumped at the opportunity to get the point by taking the early lead on the second and third doubles courts and riding those scores all the way to victory and earning a 1-0 lead over USC.
Then, just as it had the past few days, it started raining on the Dan Magill Tennis Complex at the University of Georgia so the teams were pulled off the courts before the start of singles play. This was followed by a two-hour delay before it was decided play needed to be moved to the four indoor courts.
Since there were only four courts available indoors, the 1 through 4 singles matches took place to start off.
Steve Johnson of USC was riding a 65-match win streak coming into his matchup with the Cavs' Jarmere Jenkins. Johnson continued his display of dominance by dismissing Jenkins 6-3, 6-2, while tying the match at 1-1.
Sophomore Emilio Gomez of USC gave the Trojans a 2-1 lead when he defeated Virginia senior Drew Courtney 6-4, 6-2, at number 4.
The lead didn't last long, though, as Virginia's freshman phenom Mitchell Frank blew past Nguyen 6-3, 6-1, at the number 3 position, and tied up the match 2-2.
Moments later, Trojans sophomore Raymond Sarmiento came through with a huge 6-4, 7-5 win over the power hitting 6'7" Alex Domijan of Virginia at the number 2 slot to give USC a 3-2 lead.
After the doubles and first four singles matches were completed, USC just needed to win either the 5 or 6 singles match to capture its fourth straight team title.
And the hero for the Trojans ended up being freshman Yannick Hanfmann.
Hanfmann defeated Virginia sophomore Justin Shane in a three-set marathon 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(3). Shane served for the match at 5-4 in the final set, but Hanfmann broke back and solidified his break with solid serving of his own.
As USC had already clinched the match 4-2, the sixth singles match was halted between USC's Roberto Quiroz and Virginia's Julen Uriguen with the score at 2-6, 7-6(3), 3-4.
After completing the goal of four consecutive national titles, Johnson will start defending his individual singles title that he won last season. Other USC players competing include Sarmiento, Nguyen, Gomez and Hanfmann. Virginia will be represented by Jenkins, Domijan and Frank.
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