If you're not familiar with Steve Johnson, it's time you got to know one of the next great American players.
Currently a junior at USC where he plays for the Trojans under the expert tutelage of Peter Smith, Steve will enter the 2011-12 season ranked No. 1 in men's collegiate singles. He's the 2011 NCAA Singles Champion, two-time NCAA Team champion, winner of the ITA/D'Novo All-American consolation championship and the runner-up at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championship.
He's also making his way through several ATP World Tour events this summer as part of the US Open Series leading up to the US Open. A wildcard entry into Cincinnati Open qualifying, Johnson defeated No. 58 in the world, Jeremy Chardy, 7-6 (9), 6-4 before falling just short of the main draw.
Next, Steve has his sights on the US Open. As the NCAA Singles Champion, Steve earned a wildcard into the US Open main draw where he will compete against the top players in the world on tennis' biggest stage. He's also earned a wildcard to compete in the US Open's doubles and mixed doubles events.
As Steve puts it, "The biggest thing that I have learned from (college tennis) is to play aggressive while playing within myself and to never give up because every dual match could end up being decided on your court."
Here are 10 things you may not know about the newest face in American tennis:
1. Steve Johnson ("Stevie") grew up in Orange, California. He had a racket in his hands by the age of two when he started hitting beach balls and balloons around their home in Orange.
2. His father, Steve Johnson, Sr., has been teaching tennis for 31 years. He currently runs the Steve Johnson Tennis Academy at the Rancho San Clemente Tennis & Fitness Club.
3. According to Stevie, with respect to his father's influence on his tennis game: "He taught me pretty much everything I know. Since I can remember, it's always been me and him out there hitting balls, having a blast. It's really been amazing. I wouldn't change anything."
4. Johnson graduated from Orange High in 2008. Regarding his achievements as a junior player, he won the Won CIF singles championships in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, Stevie was a Kalamazoo Doubles finalist. He also won the 2008 Southern California Sectional Boys 18 championship Johnson enrolled at USC in 2008.
5. As a member of the Trojans, the team has won 3 straight NCAA Championships. He also won the 2011 PAC-10 Singles and Doubles Titles and the 2011 NCAA Men's Singles Indivual Crown.
6. Peter Smith, the legendary tennis coach at USC, has been quoted that Johnson is the way he is because of his mother and father, whom the veteran coach described as "the two most solid parents I've ever been around."
7. Although Stevie is playing professional tour events this summer, including the qualifiers at the U.S. Open, he intends to go back to USC for 2011-2012 with the goal of capturing a fourth NCAA team title.
8. His tennis idols growing up included Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.
9. Life plans post college: Steve intends to play professional tennis and travel to Spain.
10. Steve is majoring in Human Performance at USC.