Sophomore Steve Johnson entered the ITA Regional Indoor Championships seeded No. 5 — his first seed in a college tournament.On Sunday he walked away from the tournament a National Indoor Champion.King of the indoors · In his first tournament as a seeded player, sophomore Steve Johnson took home the singles crown at the National Indoor Championships, beating two opponents who knocked off his teammates. – Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information“It feels unbelievable. It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Johnson said.Assistant coach George Husack was thrilled for his young star.“To be here and see Stevie do it, it was definitely a highlight of my career,” he said.The tournament, which was held at Yale University, had a main draw of the nation’s top 32 players. Johnson had four of his five matches go the full three sets, including a semifinal match against No. 1-seeded and No. 2-ranked J.P. Smith of Tennessee.In the third set, Smith was up 4-1, 40-15. He needed only five more points to eliminate Johnson from the tournament. Johnson, however, was not ready to go home.“J.P. Smith had won All-Americans and I was five points away from losing it but I really just kept my composure,” Johnson said.His ability to keep his cool is what Husack attributes to Johnson’s championship — especially since the sophomore lost his three first sets this weekend.“He has a great ability to stay composed and focused,” Husack said. “It was huge for him.”In the final match, Johnson faced off with No. 5-ranked Guillermo Gomez of Georgia Tech. Gomez had defeated Trojan senior No. 3-seeded Robert Farah in the round of 16. Johnson took the match in a 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3) decision.For Johnson, the semifinal and final matches against Smith and Gomez were a way for him to avenge his teammate and doubles partner, Farah.“I got my revenge on J.P. for beating Rob at All-American and now I will do the same for Guillermo because nobody beats two Trojans,” Johnson said prior to the final match.Husack felt that Johnson’s style of play was a better match for Gomez than Farah’s.“Gomez had to come up with some really unbelievable shots and points to beat Rob, but he really just neutralized Rob’s game,” Husack said. “Stevie has a totally different game than Rob. He could slice with Gomez’s slices.”In doubles matches, the No. 3-ranked and unseeded pair of Johnson and Farah did not walk away with the championship they had their eyes on. The two lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual finalists, Reid Carleton and Henrique Cunha of Duke University.Husack said the pair was just having an out-of-character match.“The two of them just weren’t clicking well together and that’s rare for them,” Husack said.Johnson should enter the spring season ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to Husack.“That for sure has not sunk in at all,” Johnson said. “It’s been an unbelievable month or two.”Locally, several Trojans competed at UCLA in the Southern California Intercollegiate tournament this weekend.Sophomores Daniel Nguyen, No. 99 Matt Kecki, junior Daniel Gliner and freshman J.T. Sundling all competed in the singles main draw.Gliner, who earned a spot in the main draw after winning two qualifying rounds, was eliminated in the first round of play. No. 5-seeded Kecki made it to the quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion No. 21 Bassam Beidas of Pepperdine University, who was seeded No. 2.Nguyen and Sundling lost in the semifinals of doubles to eventual champions Matt Brooklyn and Kalim Stewart of UCLA.No. 5-seeded Nguyen and Sundling faced each other in the semifinal match. Nguyen emerged with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over his teammate and doubles partner.Nguyen then matched up with Beidas in the finals where he lost in three sets, 2-6, 7-6, 3-6. Overall Nguyen was satisfied with almost beating Pepperdine’s top player.“I just took it point by point and really put my heart on the line,” Nguyen said.
Augsburg left-back Baba Rahman has agreed to join Chelsea – all that is left is for the clubs to agree a fee, according to the player’s agent. Rahman, 21, is understood to be have been of interest to Blues boss Jose Mourinho for some time after a standout season for a side who finished fifth in the Bundesliga last term. He played 31 times for Augsburg and made more tackles than any other left-back in the German top division last season. Sascha Empacher, who represents the Ghana international, confirmed to German newspaper Bild: “It is only the clubs that have to find an agreement. We on our side are agreed.” Augsburg have also signed 21-year-old left-back Philipp Max this week, suggesting they are now prepared to allow Rahman to leave. Rahman began his European career at Bundlesliga 2 side Greuther Furth, making his debut as a 16-year-old before a move to Augsburg in 2014. He has made 31 top-flight appearances for the club and has 11 caps for Ghana, featuring in all their matches at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. – read more