“It’s been a bit of a tough year for me overall,” Johnson told Baseline before his first-round victory over Michael Mmoh at the Fairfield Challenger.

It was clear he needed to make a change, so he did. Johnson recently split with longtime coach Craig Boynton and has reunited with a very familiar face, his former college coach Peter Smith.

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Steve Johnson 
reunites with USC
coach Peter Smith

Steve Johnson reunites with USC coach Peter Smith

Getty Images

Smith does not plan to travel with Johnson during the entire year, but is thrilled to work with his former college star, who anchored his Trojan teams to four consecutive National Championships from 2009-2012.

“We’ve always just clicked,” Smith said. The recently retired Southern California coach has worked with Johnson since their college days, and has often been spotted in his player box at Indian Wells, and other domestic events. “I’ve always been involved in Stevie’s tennis, but this time it’s a little different, there’s no team responsibilities this time.”

Both Southern California lifers, Smith and Johnson are a perfect match. Johnson was a very good junior player, but under Smith, he developed into the greatest college tennis player of all time, ending his career with a 72-match win streak in singles, a record that will likely stand for quite some time.

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Smith plans to travel with Johnson to a handful of events next season, especially the Grand Slams and Masters 1000 events in the States. There are still plenty of details up in the air, but the excitement is palpable.

“Hopefully we can make some magic again,” Johnson said.

With Johnson’s straight-set victory over Michael Mmoh, the Trojan tandem is off to a winning start.

Follow Cale on Twitter: @CaleHammond

Steve Johnson 
reunites with USC
coach Peter Smith

Steve Johnson reunites with USC coach Peter Smith