Former Don Nguyen clinches 3rd straight NCAA title for USC

Daniel Nguyen once again played a key role in USC winning a national championship in men’s tennis.

Nguyen, a former Santa Barbara High star, won the deciding singles match to give the Trojans a 4-3 win over Virginia for their third straight NCAA title on Tuesday.

Nguyen defeated Sanam Singh 7-5, 0-6, 6-4 to make USC the first three-time defending champion since Stanford won four straight form 1995-98.

Nguyen flipped off his hat, started taking off his shirt and then danced around the court until his teammates could reach him and pile on.

“I remember watching Prakash Amritraj take off his shirt when we won the 2002 title,” Nguyen told the Associated Press. “I thought about doing it and then thought, ‘nah, let’s not do it.'”

Seconds later he was tackled to the ground amid a wave of Trojans.

“It was an incredible match,” USC coach Peter Smith told the AP. “It all came down to the last match. How many teams win three in a row? These boys did it. This coaching staff did it.”

Nguyen’s final game featured a solid return game. He dived to save one shot and ended up getting the point. That led to the chip shot from the net that landed a few yards from Singh.

“It was an amazing atmosphere,” Nguyen said. “It was unbelievably loud and it was hard to focus. I just seized the moment and took advantage.”

Of his second point in the last game he said: “I just saw the ball and ran as fast as I could and dove for it. It went in, luckily, and it was a real shock.”

Singh wasn’t expecting a return.

“That was probably the best shot he has come up with,” he said. “It caught me off guard. You have to give him some credit for coming up with big shots.”

Nguyen won the clinching singles match last year for the Trojans, and two years ago he won in doubles to help them capture the title.