USC's Steve Johnson moves onto the NCAA finals (part 2)

Here is So. Cal. with his take earlier today.

But, I saw this story on Johnson's "controversial" semi-final match with Michael Shabaz and thought it would be good to post it up...

Yet for all that drama, the fans, coaches, players and volunteers at the Taube Family Tennis Center were talking about only one thing late Sunday afternoon-- the University of Virginia's Michael Shabaz, who abruptly retired after a point penalty down 7-6(4), 4-2 in his semifinal match with Steve Johnson of Southern California.

The controversy began in the first set, with Johnson serving at 5-6, 30-40, a set point, and only the third break point of the match to date, with Shabaz having saved two in the previous game.

"We had a three, four ball rally and he hits a slice that I thought was clearly out, a couple of inches," said Johnson, who gestured in dismay after he returned the shot. "The referee on the line didn't call it, but the chair overruled it, which I felt was the right call, but I guess he feels differently, and most of the UVA people here feel differently."

Sounds like there was some controversy...

The second set started as the first had, with no break points and easy holds through the first five games. Serving at 2-3, 30-15, Shabaz hit a forehand wide, and on the next point Johnson came up with an audacious dipping cross court pass to make it 30-40. Shabaz missed his first serve, and as the ball came back to him he swatted at it, with some anger but not any visible emotion. Unfortunately for him, the ball left the stadium, and the chair called out point penalty, unsportsmanlike conduct, game Johnson. As both players walked to the bench, Shabaz approached Johnson and shook his hand, while Virginia head coach Brian Boland, who was watching from the stands, could be heard to shout, "No, Shaz, No." Shabaz put his racquet in his bag and walked off the court, while all 1500 fans, who had been treated to an extremely high-quality display of tennis to that point, sat in stunned silence.

"I'm not sure what happened," said Johnson. "He was just done. After the point penalty, hitting it out of the stadium, he just called it quits. I've never had that happen in a match in my life. He's a tough competitor, I'm just kind of confused about what happened."

Johnson was hardly the only one.

"I'm speechless," said USC head coach Smith, who said he had never seen a match end that way in his over 20 years of collegiate coaching. "I actually feel sorry for all those involved. Michael is a way better person than that, and that program's a way better program than that. There were some missed calls, but that's tennis, if you've got umpires or not. I've got a lot of text messages asking me what just happened."

Cavalier head coach Boland described himself as speechless, but went on to elaborate on his disappointment with the 23-year-old senior from Fairfax, Virginia.

"I would probably consider that the lowest point in my 15 years as a head coach. I'm in shock.'

A little bit of fire works it looks like...

Congrats to Steve Johnson in making it to the finals!

FIGHT ON!

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