Nov. 7, 2009
New Haven, Conn. – Georgia Tech’s Guillermo Gomez advanced to the championship match of the ITA National Indoor Tennis Championships Saturday, coming from behind to knock off Virginia’s Michael Shabaz, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, in the semifinals.
The Tech junior’s victory, coupled with Irina Falconi’s win in Saturday’s women’s semifinals, gives the Yellow Jackets a chance to become only the second school in the history of the national indoors to win both the men’s and women’s titles in the same year.
The fifth-ranked Gomez will attempt to knock off two top-seeded Trojans in three days en route to claiming the singles title. Sunday, he will face 16th-ranked and fifth-seeded Steve Johnson of Southern California at 1 p.m. In Friday’s quarterfinals, he knocked off No. 3 Robert Farah in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal match.
“I played Steve in the NCAA’s but I had some problems physically,” said Gomez, who improved to 13-1 in singles this fall. “He is a fighter, so I know it is going to be a tough match. But I am looking forward to it.”
Tomorrow’s test is no easier for Gomez as Johnson is coming off a monstrous come from behind victory over top-seeded and clear favorite J.P. Smith of Tennessee in Satuday’s semifinals. This matchup will also be a rematch for Gomez to exact revenge as he dropped a three set match to Johnson in the 2009 NCAA Singles Championship.
Johnson, a sophomore ranked No. 18 in singles and No. 3 in doubles in the Campbell/ITA Preseason Rankings, has really stepped his game up this fall, making it to the semifinals at the D’Novo/ITA All-American Championships in early October and with today’s win over the top seed, proving he is among the nation’s elite.
“Today was a solid match,” Gomez said of his win over Shabaz. “(Head coach) Kenny (Thorne) and I had a game plan before the match, but we had to adjust during it because Shabaz was playing great. I stayed positive the whole time and fought hard, that was the key. I played against Johnson in last year’s NCAA’s. I lost in a tight match but I can wait to play him again.
“I want to congratulate Irina for her finals, too,” he continued. “During warm-ups, Irina and I were talking about how great it would be if we both were to win the tournament, and it is looking like it is very possible.”
Click here for live scoring updates for Sunday’s matches at the 2009 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Tennis Championships.