May 28, 2012
By Matthew Pearce
ATHENS, Ga. --- Southern California’s Steve Johnson clinched back-to-back men’s singles championships as he defeated Kentucky’s Eric Quigley in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.
Top seed Johnson, who after the match revealed he was suffering from injuries to his shin and abdomen, went through the match without having his serve broken. Johnson finished his career with his 72nd consecutive win.
Despite Quigley winning the first game on his serve Johnson held serve to keep the game close. The pattern of close games continued throughout the first set before Johnson was able to break the third seeded Quigley and take the early advantage.
Like the first set Johnson only required one break to win the set, and match in straight sets.
“I think I was able to handle the bigger points well. I don’t know if Eric (Quigley) was nervous or tight at all, but when it came time to win the big points he got a little tentative and I was able to be aggressive and take it from him.”
The match was the ninth consecutive day Johnson played following USC’s team success
“I’m glad to finally be done with this whole tournament. It’s been a stressful couple of weeks, but today’s match is a testament to all the hard work I’ve put in with Peter (Smith), George (Husack) and our training staff,” Johnson said. “To go out there and get one break each set and hold my serve all the way through was the key and I’m glad I got through it.”
In the women’s final third seed Nicole Gibbs defeated her Stanford teammate and fifth seed Mallory Burdette 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-3.
After Burdette dominated the first set she opened up an early 4-1 lead in the second and appeared on the brink of clinching the match with two match points. Her doubles partner, however, fought back to force the tiebreaker and eventually win the set.
The third and final set proved less dramatic as Gibbs comfortably clinched the championship with the 6-3 final set score line.
“It’s always a very tough situation to be playing your teammate, and then I got down 6-2, 4-1 to a girl that has been playing incredible tennis, but I just didn’t let myself give p from that point,” Gibbs said. “I had worked too hard and come too far in this tournament to just lay down, but at the same time I got very lucky to turn that match around. I still consider myself very lucky for that win.”
Following the singles final the last rain of the tournament came forcing both doubles finals indoors. Once inside the Stanford team of Burette and Gibbs wasted little time clinching the doubles title against Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist.
The second seeded Stanford duo showed no signs of fatigue from their earlier three set match as they raced out to an early lead in the set. They quickly clinched the first set 6-2.
Despite Gullickson and Gilchrist coming back at the Cardinal pair in the second set, Stanford’s duo proved too strong clinching the match, and the championship, 6-2, 6-4.
“I think we played great from the very beginning today. We were super solid on returns and had a few dips here and there with our first serve percentage,” Burdette said. “All in all, just solid, aggressive, doubles, which is the way we like to play.”
In the men’s doubles final the top seeded Ohio State duo of Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola defeated Texas Tech’s Raony Carvalho and Gonzalo Escobar 7-6(5), 6-3.
The first set proved tight as both teams struggled to find a breakthrough before the Buckeye team eventually went on to win the tiebreaker.
They then used that momentum to move into the third set and comfortably defeat Escobar and Carvalho.
Buchanan and Rola also completed a small piece of history on Monday as they have now won the NCAA tournament, ITA National Indoor championship and ITA All-America championship in the same season. This is the first time this has ever been done.
“We found out about the triple crown yesterday,” Rola said. “We certainly felt the adrenaline rush on the match points, and it felt great to be able to have that opportunity. So many great doubles teams have played in college tennis and to be the only team to accomplish this as a couple is unbelievable.”