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Monday, February 20, 2012

USC Freshman Hanfmann Clinches 4-3 Win Over Ohio State to Deliver ITA Men's Team Indoor Title

©Colette Lewis 2012--
Charlottesville, VA--

The last time the University of Southern California played for a national team title, at last year's NCAA Championships, it was junior Daniel Nguyen who clinched a 4-3 victory for the Trojans, their third straight.

In Monday's final of the ITA Men's National Team Indoor against No. 3 seed Ohio State, it wasn't the experienced Nguyen charged with supplying the final point with the match deadlocked at 3, but rather freshman Yannick Hanfmann.

Having lost the first set to Devin McCarthy on court 5, Hanfmann displayed few nerves as he fought back to post a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory, giving his team its first Team Indoor title since 1988--three years before he was born.

The top-seeded Trojans had a tough battle with No. 4 Georgia in Sunday's semifinal before emerging with a 4-1 decision, but on Monday they were actually behind for the first time after dropping the doubles point.

Ohio State got an 8-5 win at No. 1 from the nation's top-ranked team of Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola, dealing Steve Johnson and Hanfmann their first lost of the season. USC's cousin tandem of Emilio Gomez and Roberto Quiroz were leading Peter Kobelt and Connor Smith 6-4 on Court 3, but lost three straight games, and that match went into a tiebreaker. Ohio State took a 5-1 and 6-3 lead in the extra game, and after Kobelt let one match point slip away, Smith blasted a return winner to secure the doubles point with a 9-8(4) win. Had Ohio State lost that tiebreaker, they were still in the driver's seat, with McCarthy poised to finish it for the Buckeyes on Court 2 against Nguyen and Raymond Sarmiento. McCarthy and partner Ille Van Engelen led 7-6 with McCarthy serving when the match was abandoned.

"They just punched us in the face in doubles," said USC head coach Peter Smith. "I just walked in [the locker room] and said, this is what we did wrong, and if you get punched in the face, you better get up and punch back."

"Fortunately, we've got a couple of veterans that we knew we could count on."

Smith was speaking of course of seniors Steve Johnson and Nguyen, who have won three consecutive NCAA team championships. Nguyen, playing on Court 3, raced out to post a 6-1 first set over Ohio State's Peter Kobelt, who was one of the heroes of the Buckeyes' upset of host Virginia, the four-time defending champions.

"We felt good about that match," said Smith. "We felt like we had a good game plan and that Daniel was the right guy for it."

But despite two other first sets--at No. 1, with Johnson over Buchanan, and No. 4, with Gomez over Van Engelen--a fourth point for the Trojans wasn't apparent. Ohio State's Smith had taken the first set from Eric Johnson, who was making his tournament debut at No. 6 singles, and McCarthy had posted his first set against Hanfmann. The momentum seemed to turn in the Buckeyes favor at No. 2, when Rola broke Sarmiento serving for the first set at 5-4, then broke him again to steal the set 7-5.

That was three first sets for Ohio State, who only needed to maintain those leads to hoist the winner's trophy for the first time. But Hanfmann was already up a break in the second set against McCarthy, so any projections at that stage were premature. After Nguyen finished off Kobelt 6-1, 6-2 to make it 1-1, Gomez followed with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Van Engelen at 4 to put USC in the lead 2-1.

By this time, Hanfmann had taken the second set from McCarthy, while teammate Eric Johnson had broken Smith at 5-5 and was serving for the second set. He couldn't hold however, and Smith took the tiebreaker, needing four match points before finally recording a 6-3, 7-6(6) victory to tie the match at 2.

On Court 1, Buchanan and Johnson were in an extremely tight second set, with many multiple deuce games, until Johnson finally broke at 4-4 and served it out for a 6-3, 6-4 decision and a 3-2 lead for USC.

Just moments later, Rola broke Sarmiento at 3-4, after another long and tight second set, and he too served it out, taking the match 7-5, 6-3 to make it 3-3. The several hundred fans in attendance at the Boar's Head Sports Club then turned their undivided attention to Court 5, where, just as Rola finished, Hanfmann broke McCarthy, taking a 3-2 third-set lead, which proved to be enough.

"We couldn't buy a first serve when it was 2-2, 30-0 on Devin McCarthy's court," said Ohio State head coach Ty Tucker. "Somehow he felt a little of the pressure right away and gave up that break right there and struggled a little there at the end of the match to keep the ball in the court. We ride Devin hard and he's a big-time horse for us. We played well, but USC got us."

Knowing the match was on the line didn't seem to faze Hanfmann, who played both relaxed and aggressively in his subsequent service games. McCarthy held for 4-3 and 5-4, and Hanfmann had a changeover to consider his situation.

"The pressure at the end, when everybody is coming down to court 5, it was huge," said the 20-year-old German, who also took a recruiting visit to Ohio State before deciding to attend USC. "I was relieved that I got the break, because I just had to serve it out. It's easier said than done, but you've just got to calm down, talk to yourself, focus on your own match."

In serving for the second set, Hanfmann had double faulted twice, but there was no sign of that problem with the match on the line. McCarthy erred on three forehands, one of which was forced by Hanfmann's great get on a volley, giving Hanfmann three championship points. He only needed the first, hitting a big first serve that McCarthy couldn't handle, and the Trojan title celebration, last seen in Palo Alto in May of 2011, was underway again.

"I was thinking win or lose with Yannick out there, it's great he's in that situation," said Smith. "He's a freshman, he needs to get used to that kind of pressure. He handled it really well, and fortunately he's got that serve. He did great."

For Tucker, his fourth visit to the final of a national team championship ended as the two previous indoor finals and the 2009 NCAA championship did, with the runner-up trophy.

"We've got to go and get better, work on some of the things that let us down, some first serve percentage, some early points in games," said Tucker. "We've got to get back to the drawing board...Hat's off to USC. They're the best team in the country for a reason and we hope to get better, so come May, we'll stand up and fight some more."

Smith, whose teams have won three consecutive NCAA titles without reaching the semifinals of the National Indoors, believes the Buckeyes will break through.

"People have to understand that I did this (college coaching) for 22 years before I won anything. You just keep knocking at the door, and sooner or later the door gets answered."

Now there are four national team titles that have entered through USC's doors in the past four years.

#1 USC vs. #3 Ohio State
(1) #1 Buchanan/Rola (OSU) def. #28 Hanfmann/S. Johnson (USC) – 8-5
(2) Nguyen/Sarmiento (USC) vs. #27 McCarthy/Van Engelen (OSU) – 6-7 susp.
(3) Kobelt/Smith (OSU) def. Gomez/Quiroz (USC) – 9-8(4)
OSU wins doubles point.
Order of finish: 1, 3

(1) #11 Steve Johnson (USC) vs. #16 Chase Buchanan (OSU) – 6-3, 6-4
(2) #12 Blaz Rola (OSU) def. #18 Ray Sarmiento (USC) – 7-5, 6-3
(3) #14 Daniel Nguyen (USC) def. Peter Kobelt (OSU) – 6-1, 6-2
(4) #47 Emiilo Gomez (USC) def. #99 Ille Van Engelen (OSU) – 6-3, 6-4
(5) #36 Yannick Hanfmann (USC) def. #65 Devin McCarthy (OSU) – 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
(6) #107 Connor Smith (OSU) def. Eric Johnson (USC) – 6-3, 7-6(6)
Order of finish: 3, 4, 6, 1, 2, 5


Austin said...

This was one of the best Indoors I can remember in terms of how competitive the matches seemed to be. Even matches resulting in 4-1 scores had the remaining matches neck and neck. I think we are in for a fantastic NCAA's in three months. I think the following teams could win the title if all players are healthy:

Top Tier: USC, OSU, UVA
2nd Tier: UK, Stan, UGA, Duke

I still will take USC over UVA in the finals, but could definitely see some other teams in there. One thing I was thinking is that since UVA finally lost at Indoors this is when they will win the one that matters in May.

Russ said...

I'd put Georgia in the top tier. They had USC on the ropes and the result could easily have been 4-3. Their doubles are competitive enough that they might not be facing the daunting challenge of trying to take four singles matches. They're also high energy, high emotion team who will be playing at home. Could be very tough to beat.

I'd also put ucla in the second tier. They'll have Dennis novikov joining them in April and he will definitely boost their singles. The doubles remain a problem and it's hard to see therm really contend without dramatic improvement in that area.

Same goes for duke's doubles. It's hard to see them taking four of six from USC. It's doable, but everyone would have to be at the top of their game. Problem area for duke might be at five as I heard that hemmeler and hanfmann have played against each other as juniors and that hanfmann owns him. Don't know whether that's true or not, but hemmeler gave great effort only to end up winning two games. Facing Shane, McCarthy, or pieters are easily doable for hemmeler who has played some very solid clutch tennis in both singles and doubles.

For Stanford to remain in the second tier, klahn has to be healthy. Their depth without him is an issue as ucla took all six singles when they met earlier this year. Klahn's match against Kentucky showed that he still has a way to go and knowing how problematic back issues are, there's no guarantee he can perform at his accustomed level.

Anyway I'm looking forward to athens in the spring.

Hoodat said...

@Russ, Dennis Novikov is joining UCLA in April? Where did you hear this? How unorthodox...

Russ said...

I overheard it at the indoors. A current ucla player was chatting with a former player. He seemed pretty sure it was a done deal. I also saw Dennis at the ucla v Stanford match at Stanford and wondered if he was there because he's originally from redwood city or whether there was something else going on.

BTW: let's put Florida in that second tier. They had a close battle with Georgia and that 4-0 win by duke might be a touch deceiving. The bottom three matches were all close and by no means guaranteed. Van overbeek was also not one hundred percent for his match. They win dubs and the bottom three, it's a completely different result.

Austin said...

If Novikov is indeed going to be playing for UCLA then yes, they should be in the discussion as well. Note one thing I said is that this is assuming all teams are healthy, if Klahn is not healthy then I dont even know if they are Top10.

As far as Florida goes, I did not include them because I do not believe in Van Overbeek at #1. I wouldnt take him over any top ranked teams top player, so right there you are down 1-0. If Bangoura had not turned pro I think they would be right in the mix.

If Duke were to play USC then just move Tahir up to #6 and let Hemmeler sit out if he is still playing #5 at that point just for matchups sake.

5.0 Player said...

Hi Austin. Is it confirmed that Bengoura turned pro? I know that there was a lot of speculation about that when he left Florida but I did not know that this was confirmed.

Austin said...

Collette is the one who confirmed it to me, so she is better suited to answer that one. I am still puzzled by it, what result gave him the notion he could make it as a pro? As another Florida guy, he has Tyler Hochwalt syndrome. So far this year Bangoura has played three Futures and gone 2-3. As an American I certainly wish him well, but it just puzzles me.

5.0 Player said...

Yes Austin. I totally agree with you. Not only are his results not there to justify such a decision but what weapon does he have that makes him so special that he can count on consistent wins at that level? He is a fine player and has no weaknesses but he does not have one great shot nor blazing speed which might make up for this.

Gator said...


If you do not "believe in Van Overbeek at #1", you've clearly never looked at some of his results. He just beat Dennis Nevolo a couple of weeks ago and no one was surprised by that win. He had some outstanding wins in the juniors and also some in college matches. He's always routinely won against Sekou Bangoura so I'm not sure why you think they'd be so much better off with Bangoura at #1. When Bob's playing well and especially serving well, he can beat anyone in the country. He was right in the mix with King, Sarmiento, Kudla, etc in the juniors and I think you'll be surprised at what he does this year at #1 singles.

Austin said...


Junior results are irrelevant now. He did beat Nevolo, however, you are neglecting the fact that he has not won a set against a #1 guy who plays for a team that qualified for Indoors so far this season. Last year he had mixed results primarily at #4. I am basing my thoughts off results, not potential talent. As far as Bangoura goes, I did not say he was better or worse than Van Overbeek, just that with Bangoura in the lineup(at either 1 or 2) would make Florida an elite team since they would be very solid.

Mike said...

Has anyone ever thought about why the guys leave Florida? We seem to have this debate ALL the time! It just doesn't seem to be about "well I have this result, so I'll turn pro", but rather I think one has to consider that these guys just don't want to be under the tutelage of Jackson.

So here we go again...Dadamo, Hochwalt, Hamui, Corace, Cueto, Burkhart, and Bangoura all left for a better place, regardless of why or where. Have I forgotten anybody? They simply don't want to stick around and play for Florida. One ultimately has to ask WHY? It certainly can't be Gainesville or the University...gee could it be coaching? The big mystery will be whether Van Overbeek stays his due...we shall see. When was the last time UF graduated a decent American...without intense research I think it was Oulette, wasn't it?

And yes Hochwalt went first...didn't know it was a "syndrome" but rather a personal choice and he was supposed to transfer to UT that ultimately fell through. Funny how it started a chain reaction of a mass exodus from Gainesville though. He doesn't seem to sing his glories, those guys just wanted OUT!

If Bangoura ends up doing his thing..more power to him. Hope Hochwalt is healthy!

5.0 Player said...

Mike said...
"Has anyone ever thought about why the guys leave Florida? We seem to have this debate ALL the time! It just doesn't seem to be about "well I have this result, so I'll turn pro", but rather I think one has to consider that these guys just don't want to be under the tutelage of Jackson."

I have never heard anything specific about Jackson but his bio on the school's website is so bombastic and "over the top" that I wonder if he has a big ego. Here are some excerpts. Let me know what you think:

"When searching for continued success in recent years across the sport of men’s tennis, followers of the game should look no further than Gainesville, Fla., where 11th-year University of Florida head coach Andy Jackson has fashioned a stretch in the history of the Gator program unprecedented by any other coach in the program’s history…

With a head coaching vacancy at the University of Florida in the summer of 2001, Athletics Director Jeremy Foley was searching for just the right combination of elite coaching experience and strong work ethic to fit the university’s philosophy and expectations of excellence. The two recognized their mutual visions for the Gator men’s tennis program and…

A high school basketball and tennis star for Franklin County (Ky.) High School, Jackson soon found that at the University of Kentucky he would have better success playing the latter as opposed to the former. After all, his high school teams did post a 79-1 record in men’s tennis during his time there. Jackson lettered at UK twice in tennis…That spring Jackson collected UK’s Outstanding Christian Athlete of the Year Award.

A Frankfort, Ky., native, Jackson was born David Andrew Jackson in Oneida, Ky., on August 14, 1961. He is a descendent of former United States President and War of 1812 hero Andrew Jackson along with Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.”

Colette Lewis said...

@5.0 player:
As a journalist, I believe Jackson's bio contains interesting facts about him that wouldn't otherwise be known and I don't think you can draw any conclusions about Florida's attrition rate from it.

5.0 Player said...

Your point is well taken Colette. And I am open to being persuaded either way. I am just speculating that perhaps the bio is a sign of a big ego which would make a coach difficult to deal with. Despite the bio, he may not have a big ego or, in the alternative, he might have a big ego but still could be a very effective and popular coach.

With regard to your point that the bio provides interesting facts about the coach's background, you are correct especially regarding his family history. However, my question relates to the choices of words and phrases that I find reach a degree of self promotion that I have never seen in a college coach's bio. For example:

"When searching for continued success in recent years across the sport of men’s tennis, followers of the game should look no further than Gainesville, Fla., where...head coach Andy Jackson has fashioned a stretch in the history of the Gator program unprecedented..."

And then "searching for just the right combination of elite coaching experience and strong work ethic to fit the university’s philosophy and expectations of excellence. The two recognized their mutual visions..."

It sounds as if they are trying to portray the coach and the athletic director as two masterminds or world architects or something.

I would be curious to hear what others think of the language as well as what they think of the coach. Maybe he didn't write the bio but we all know that people usually write their own bio or certainly approve it as they are the best source of the information about themselves.

not uncommon said...

A lot of coaches bios (in all sports) are like that one. He does sign off on it, but the sports info staffs write them (and even do this with some of the player bios as well.) His might be a little more on the more dramatic side, but not too far off a lot of other ones out there. He has had a really good career, transfers or otherwise, going back to his days at Mississippi State when he had them in the top 5.

Debbie said...

It will be 3 years in April since Tyler left the University of Florida and moved to Austin, Texas. I know that because I picked him up and moved him myself. So imagine my surprise to check ZooTennis and see bloggers talking about my son and the "Tyler Hochwalt syndrome", and lots of speculation and guesses.

While I can't speak for the other guys, I would be more than happy to share the reasons why Tyler left UF. Why that would be important right now...almost 3 years later is totally beyond me. My friend Colette has my e-mail address and can forward that on to me if someone is truly interested.

I admit I don't read ZooTennis as often as I used to...I check because Colette and I go back almost 7 years. I enjoy her blog, I respect her work and she is my friend.

I wish that last weekend bloggers would have acknowledged Tyler's first tournament back in almost a year after surgery instead of things that happened 3 years ago.

To Mike...We are proud that he is happy and healthy and back out there!

Austin said...

Jeremy Wurtzman, he was the first big time American that left after Jackson was named coach. He then went on to become an All American at Ohio State every year after that I believe.

Tony said...

Sweeting left as well. I know technically he was suspended for a semester and chose not to come back. But that counts right? Either way players have transferred out of that program over the last 5-7 years at a alarming rate. There was an article written a little while back about mass defections from the UVA program when Coach Guilbeau took over, but he has built that team up quite nicely.

old Gator said...

Levine also...technically