Johnson: College tennis earning credibility in pros

by: Matt Cronin February 23, 2014

AP Photo

After reaching the semifinals of the ATP 250 level tournament in Delray Beach, world No. 142 Steve Johnson says his result is a boost for college tennis. The former USC standout won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2011 and 2012. However, four-year college players (Johnson played for four years at USC) rarely make it into the Top 10 and have not been a serious factor at the top of the singles game since he likes of UCLA's Arthur Ashe and Stanford's Roscoe Tanner won Grand Slam titles during the 1970s.

"This gives college tennis some credibility,’’ the 24-year-old told the Florida SunSentinel. "I’ve heard guys say me going to college for four years was the dumbest idea I could make. I wasn't mature tennis-wise or good enough, fitness-wise, not even close to the right level. College gave me a chance to grow up and realize what was important and not important in my life."

Bradley Klahn, who played four years at Stanford, is the third highest-ranked American at No. 66, behind John Isner and Sam Querrey. Isner played college tennis at Georgia. Rhyne Williams, who played two years at the University of Tennessee, is ranked No. 146. 

"Myself, Bradley and Rhyne, we're all just itching to get a real big breakthrough," Johnson said. "Hopefully, this is my week and who knows who next week?''

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