Smith, Daescu dash USC's hopes of all-Trojan singles final at D'Novo/ITA Men's All-American Championships

March 10, 2009 03:45 PM
TULSA, Okla. - Although the second-seeded pair of Robert Farah and Steve Johnson of USC were unable to combine forces for a first-round doubles win, they entered today's semifinals with hopes of becoming just the fourth set of teammates to square off in the singles final in the history of the ITA Men's All-American Championships. However, the top remaining seed and a local rising star had other plans.

With both matches being played simultaneously and on parallel courts, the two Trojans could only watch their early leads slip away in two hotly-contested matches.

The prime matchup of the tournament thus far which could also stand as the best of the season, pitted No. 2 John-Patrick Smith and the third-ranked Farah. Farah, the 2007 D'Novo/ITA All-American Runner-Up came out firing, taking the first set 6-3. However, as the sun began to set, Smith's play began to rise.

Smith, who would go on to play three straight matches (two singles and one doubles) in a six-hour period, dug down, gaining momentum to capture the second set, 6-2. He continued to frustrate Farah, who could not recover and would go on to lose the final set 6-2.

Including the three matches Smith tallied up today, there is a possibility that he will play a total of six singles and doubles matches in a two-day span. "J.P. is young and very resilient," Associate Head Coach Chris Woodruff said. "We've been doing a lot of conditioning and he's been able to show in the past that he's been able to string matches together. I don't see it being a problem."

With the win, J.P. improved to 10-1 in singles this season. Smith already has one singles championship this season, winning the first flight of the UVA Plus One Invitational.

At the same time, just one court over, Farah's doubles partner Steve Johnson was looking to slow down the booming Sooner, Andrei Daescu, who has had an amazing run here at Tulsa, just an hour and a half away from the University of Oklahoma campus.

Johnson, ranked 18th in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings pushed the 40th-ranked Daescu to a tie-break first set, which he would drop 7-6 (3). Johnson, refusing to let it affect him mentally, would go up on Daescu 6-5 in the second set until Daescu, under the tutelage of first year Head Coach John Roddick, brother of Andy Roddick, would not only send the match into a second straight tie-break but would sweep Johnson 7-6 (0) to advance to the championship match.

In doubles, the Duke team of Reid Carleton and highly-touted freshman Henrique Cunha would knock the Childs brothers of Louisville to capture the consolation title.

Tomorrow's semifinal matchups include Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher of Stanford taking on Oklahoma State's Aleksey Bessonov and Oleksandr Nedovyesov, the tournament's No. 1 singles player who was able to exact revenge on Kentucky's Eric Quigley in quarterfinals doubles play.

In the bottom half of the draw is the No. 3 seeded Wisconsin team of Moritz Baumann and Marek Michalicka versus singles finalist J.P. Smith and Boris Conkic of Tennessee, who had not previously played together as a team prior to the D'Novo/ITA All-American Championships.

Tournament play concludes tomorrow with the championship singles match beginning at 10 am CDT, followed by the championship doubles match.

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