USC wins third national title in a row
Nguyen clinches championship with thrilling three-set victory
STANFORD, Calif. -- Daniel Nguyen made a shot to earn a break point, flipped off his hat, started taking off his shirt and then danced around the court until his Southern California teammates could reach him and pile on.
Nguyen downed Sanam Singh 7-5, 0-6, 6-4 to give Southern California a 4-3 victory against Virginia for the Trojans' third consecutive NCAA men's tennis title Tuesday.
They became the first three-time defending champions since Stanford won four in a row from 1995-98.
"I remember watching Prakash Amritraj take off his shirt when we won the 2002 title," Nguyen said. "I thought about doing it and then thought, 'nah, let's not do it.'"
Seconds later he was tackled to the ground amid a wave of Trojans.
"It was an incredible match," USC coach Peter Smith said. "It all came down to the last match. How many teams win three in a row? These boys did it. This coaching staff did it."
Nguyen's final game featured a solid return game. He dived to save one shot and ended up getting the point. That led to the chip shot from the net that landed a few yards from Singh.
"It was an amazing atmosphere," Nguyen said. "It was unbelievably loud and it was hard to focus. I just seized the moment and took advantage."
Of his second point in the last game he said: "I just saw the ball and ran as fast as I could and dove for it. It went in, luckily, and it was a real shock."
Singh wasn't expecting a return.
"That was probably the best shot he has come up with," he said. "It caught me off guard. You have to give him some credit for coming up with big shots."
The Trojans (27-2) won the doubles point. The key match was senior Steve Johnson and freshman Emilio Gomez at No. 2 doubles.
"It was just so surreal," said Johnson, the nation's top-ranked college player. "I felt this year like it was my team and the guys put in so much hard work to prove we could come here and show how good we are. We fought hard and we'll be looking for more next year."
The Trojans, undefeated in its past six appearances in the final, knocked Virginia out of the tournament for the third straight year. They beat the Cavaliers in last year's semifinals and in the quarterfinals in 2009.
Virginia, the top seed in each of the past four tournaments, reached the final for the first time in school history.
"USC played a great match and really took it to us in doubles," Virginia coach Brian Boland said. "Somebody had to lose a tough match. That's just part of sports. It was a privilege to play for the national championship."
Gomez beat freshman Justin Shane 6-0, 6-3 at No. 5 singles to make it 2-0. Southern California won the first set in five of the six singles matches, but Virginia (34-1) came back to win the second set in three of those matches.
Johnson gave the Trojans a 3-0 lead with a 7-6 (2), 6-3 victory over Michael Shabaz at No. 1 singles.
Alex Domijan gave the Cavaliers their first point with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Jack Poldma at No. 2 singles and Julen Uriguen beat Peter Lucassen 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 at No. 6 singles to make it 3-2.
Jarmere Jenkins rallied to win his match at No. 4 singles, beating Ray Sarmiento, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.