In mid-April, the Pac-12 All-Century Tennis Teams were announced. Southern California, living up to its reputation as the best place in the world to develop one’s game, dominated the men and women’s selections.
Each Pac-12 school nominated players, as did a Pac-12 Network research team. In the end, the panelists selected 14 men’s and 14 women’s singles and doubles competitors, and two coaches from the lists submitted.
On the men’s side, eight players from the section were named to the team. Those in this very exclusive group were: Bob and Mike Bryan of Stanford (1997-98); Jimmy Connors of UCLA (1971); Steve Johnson of USC (2009-12); Bob Lutz of USC (1967-69); Alex Olmedo of USC (1956-58); Dennis Ralston of USC (1962-64) and Stan Smith of USC (1966-68). Amanda Augustus of Cal (1996-99); Nicole Gibbs of Stanford (2011-13); Barbara Hallquist DeGroot of USC (1976-79); Amber Liu Chang of Stanford (2003-06) and Keri Phebus of UCLA (1993-96) were the women honored. If Robin Anderson of UCLA (2012-15), Arthur Ashe of UCLA (1963-65) and Rafael Osuna of USC (1961-63), were included, as all of them attended local schools, Southern California’s status could be further substantiated as the best.
Adding to the luster, Johnson was named Pac-12 Men’s Tennis Player of the Century. He was singled out for having won NCAA singles titles in 2011 and ’12. In that time, he finished No. 1 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings and was the Player of the Year. During his time at USC, the team won four NCAA championships and in his final two years, he compiled a 72-match win streak.
The accolades didn’t end there, since the Bryans – which was hardly a surprise – earned Pac-12 Men’s Doubles Team of the Century honors. In 1998, Bob claimed the NCAA singles and the doubles with Mike. Stanford won the team title. The twins have gone on to set records winning 16 Grand Slam tournaments and 110 ATP Tour doubles trophies, along with sitting atop the rankings for an astounding 438 weeks. Augustus, who is currently the coach of the Cal women’s team, completed the section’s successful showing with a flourish, being honored as a part of the Pac-12 Women’s Doubles Team of the Century, along with her 1998 and ’99 NCAA winning partner, Amy Jensen.
(The author is grateful for the help provide by Darcy Couch of USC, Danny Harrington of UCLA and Brian Risso of Stanford in the search for story photos,)