Johnson Signs with Lagardere; Pate Leaves Alabama for Princeton; Vickery into Semis at Grade 1 in Belgium
I spoke with two-time NCAA champion Steve Johnson this evening and can confirm that he's signed with Lagardere and will be represented by Sam Duvall.
"I had a few different options--IMG, Octagon and Lagardere," Johnson said. "I met with all of them a few times and it kind of came down to who I felt most comfortable with. Sam was the best fit for me, and I definitely think I made a great decision."
Johnson is nursing several injuries from the intense two-week marathon that constitutes the NCAA championships, but he said with rest, he hopes to be back playing in three weeks or so.
"I can't run or do anything impact-wise, but I can bike and swim, pretty much everything but running for the next two weeks." Johnson said.
Johnson is planning to train at the USTA Player Development Center West in Carson, California, where he has already spent time hitting with Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey and others based in Southern California.
"I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think I'll be at Carson, that's my plan," said Johnson. "It's a full time deal, and Bradley (Klahn) is planning on being there as well. I think (USTA National Coach) David Nainkin will be there to help us as much as we want, and he's able to, and I think he might be one of our primary coaches at Carson, which would be really nice."
As one of the most successful college players ever, with a major agency's backing, Johnson will not lack for opportunities to play big events this summer.
"I'm thinking of starting at Rhode Island at the Hall of Fame Tournament, then I can see a possible scenario of working my way back west, Atlanta, LA," said Johnson, who is now ranked 375. "Then potentially DC, a couple more tournaments there, and then hopefully the Open. That's my immediate plans for the next three, four months, then after that we need to look at schedule and see what's going to suit me best."
Princeton announced today that University of Alabama men's head coach Billy Pate has accepted the same position there, replacing Glenn Michibata, who resigned last month. Pate, who had been head coach at Alabama for ten seasons, is the second SEC coach to resign in the past week, following Florida's Andy Jackson. The received wisdom in Division I men's tennis says that it's difficult to get a major head coaching position, because so few good jobs open up, but that's obviously not the case this year.
There is also a vacancy in the SEC on the women's side, with LSU announcing it would not renew the contract of head coach Tony Minnis, who had been with the Tigers for 21 years.
Two other resignations at smaller institutions are also noteworthy. Both Jason Suscha of Butler and Sachin Kirtane of Northern Iowa were prominent members of the NCAA Division I Tournament Committee.
At the ITF Grade 1 in Belgium, American Sachia Vickery has reached the singles semifinals and the doubles final. Vickery, the No. 3 seed, defeated No. 7 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-2 and will play unseeded Kimberley Zimmerman of Belgium in the semifinals. Zimmerman is one of five semifinalists in the boys and girls draws from the home country. Vickery and Francoise Abanda of Canada, the No. 2 seeds, are into the doubles final with only two wins (due to a bye and a walkover), and will play top seeds Maria Ines Deheza of Bolivia and Elke Lemmens of Belgium.