TENNIS: THACHER, SUNDLING LEAD SOCAL TO TITLE.
For all of its individual talent, Southern California's bid to win the USTA 16-under Intersectional Team Championships came down to three doubles matches Thursday.
After splitting its six singles matches with top-seeded Florida, No. 2 Southern California looked to Harvard-Westlake of Studio City's Ryan Thacher and Thousand Oaks' JT Sundling to come through in the clutch, and the local standouts delivered.
Shortly after Orange's Steve Johnson and Placentia's Stephanie Hammel defeated Joey Burkhardt and Monica Chow in mixed doubles, Sundling and Thacher clinched the title with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Brennan Boyajian and Jeffrey Morris.
Anaheim's Catherine Isip and Lakewood's Stacey Tan then closed out Lindsay Dvorak and Lauren Embree to put the finishing touches on Southern California's 6-3 victory at the Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club in Shreveport, La.
``I felt like if we played well, the lineup we were putting out there was a little stronger than Florida could offer,'' said Thacher, who rebounded from a 6-0, 6-3 loss to Boyajian to record his fourth doubles victory, the final three with Sundling as his partner.
``That's the beauty of a team event. I didn't play very good in singles, but I was able to bounce back and do well in doubles.''
A day after losing in straight sets against Texas, Sundling produced the most important singles victory of the tournament for Southern California. With Florida's Joel Samaha serving for the match in the second set, Sundling broke his opponent en route to a crucial 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory to pull his team even at 3-3 entering doubles competition.
Although Florida had lost only two doubles sets entering the final, Southern California overwhelmed its opponent with three sweeps to finish 15-0 in doubles competition.
Johnson and Temecula's Haley Dixon both produced important singles victories to help Southern California rally from a 2-0 deficit.