Shabaz Falls in NCAA Singles Semifinals
STANFORD, Calif. – Virginia senior Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) had his run at the 2011 NCAA Singles Championship come to an end with a 7-6(4), 4-2 (ret.) loss to top-seeded Steve Johnson of USC in the semifinals on Sunday at the Taube Tennis Center. With the loss, Shabaz concludes his career and Virginia’s 2010-11 season comes to an end.
In the first set, both players served well and dropped just a total of six points on their serve over the first 10 games, as the match was tied at 5-5. Shabaz then saved two break points to hold for a 6-5 lead. With Johnson serving to stay in the set, Shabaz had a set point at 30-40. During the rally, Shabaz hit a shot that hit baseline and was ruled good by the linesman in front of the play, but was overruled as long by the chair umpire. Johnson eventually held serve to force a breaker. In the breaker, the players remained on serve until Johnson went up a mini-break at 5-3. Serving at 5-4, Johnson won a pair of points to win the opening set.
In the second set, both players held easily through the first five games, with Johnson holding a 3-2 lead. As Shabaz served at 2-3, he faced the first break point of the set at 30-40. After his first serve was long, he hit Johnson’s return out of the way to prepare for a second serve. That swing caused the ball to leave the stadium and Shabaz was given a point penalty for ball abuse, giving Johnson the break and a 4-2 lead. Following the call, Shabaz chose to retire from the match.
Johnson will meet Rhyne Williams of Tennessee in the championship match on Monday.
With the loss, Virginia’s five-year streak of having a NCAA singles or doubles finalist comes to an end.
Shabaz finishes his Virginia career with 124 career singles wins, ranking fifth in school history (behind Somdev Devvarman, Sanam Singh, Treat Huey and Brian Vahaly).