Monday, August 13, 2012

Ex-USC star Johnson rolls to Aptos title

Ex-USC star Steve Johnson, shown against Dmitry
Tursunov in the second round, dominated Aptos
the way he did college tennis. Photo by Paul Bauman
   What does Steve Johnson think this is, college?
   The former USC star dominated the $100,000 Comerica Bank Challenger in Aptos, Calif., the way he did college tennis.
   Playing in his first Challenger singles final, Johnson cruised past ex-Trojan teammate Robert Farah 6-3, 6-3 Sunday at the Seascape Sports Club.They have practiced together many times, but this was their first official match against each other.
   Johnson, a 22-year-old wild card from Orange, Calif., did not lose a set during the week. His closest match actually came in the first round, 6-3, 7-5 against 6-foot-5 left-hander Carlos Salamanca of Colombia.
   Johnson then got a break when Russian Dmitry Tursunov, a former top-20 player who owns a townhouse in the Sacramento suburb of Folsom, retired from their second-round matchup at 4-6, 0-0 with a groin injury. 
   With the title, Johnson soared 141 spots in the world rankings to No. 237 after only one month as a professional. The unseeded Farah, 25, of Colombia jumped 36 places to No. 169.
   Johnson was the Michael Phelps of college tennis, ending his USC career in May with 72 consecutive singles victories, four NCAA team titles and two NCAA singles crowns (2011 and 2012).
   Third-seeded John Peers of Australia and Rik de Voest of South Africa won the doubles title in their first tournament together. They edged second-seeded Chris Guccione of Australia and Frank Moser of Germany 6-7 (5), 6-1, 10-4 tiebreak.
   Guccione, a 6-foot-7 left-hander, was bidding for his fourth consecutive Aptos doubles crown. The other three came with ex-partner Carsten Ball, a Southern California native who plays for Australia. Ball did not enter Aptos this year. Guccione also won the 2009 singles title.
   De Voest, 32, won the singles title of the inaugural Sacramento Challenger in 2005 and took the doubles crown there in 2010 with countryman Izak Van der Merwe. Ball and Guccione captured the doubles title in last year's Sacramento Challenger. 
(All times PDT)
   Today -- Montreal (women), final, ESPN2, 7-9 p.m. (delay).
   Aug. 27-Sept. 9 -- U.S. OPEN, Flushing Meadows, N.Y.,
   Sept. 9-16 -- $25,000 USTA Oak River Rehab Challenger, Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness, 3452 Argyle Road, Redding, Calif., 96002,, (530) 227-3498.
   Sept. 14 -- World TeamTennis, Western Conference finals, Sacramento Capitals vs. Orange County Breakers, 3:30 p.m. PDT, Charleston, S.C.
   Sept. 15 -- WTT, Eastern Conference finals, Washington Kastles vs. New York Sportimes, 3:30 p.m. PDT, Charleston, S.C.
   Sept. 16 -- WTT Finals, Western Conference champion vs. Eastern Conference champion, 12:30 p.m. PDT, Charleston, S.C.
   Sept. 29-Oct. 7 -- Natomas Men's $100,000 Challenger, Natomas Racquet Club, 2450 Natomas Park Drive, Sacramento, Calif., 95833,, (916) 649-0909.
   Oct. 6-14 -- First Republic Bank Men's $100,000 Challenger, Tiburon Peninsula Club, 1600 Mar West St., Tiburon, Calif., 94920, www.tiburon, (415) 789-7900.

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