Three years ago, spring fever got the best of Chapman’s Troy Turnbull. With tennis racket in hand and no prospects in sight, Turnbull, then 17, bought a one-way plane ticket from Auckland, New Zealand, to Los Angeles, determined to land a college scholarship in the States.
“My buddies back in New Zealand were working,” Turnbull said. “I wasn’t going to do that.”
Instead, Turnbull turned his tennis talents into his trade. He received a scholarship with the Chapman College men’s tennis team, and, within a year, became the school’s No. 1 men’s singles player.
Tuesday, Turnbull, Chapman’s first singles player and the tournament’s second-seeded player, led the Panthers’ men’s tennis team to its first berth ever in the final of the NCAA Division 2 National at Cal State Northridge.
Led by the play of No. 1-seeded Turnbull, Chapman easily defeated Rollins College of Winter Park, Fla., 5-1, in the semifinal round of team singles competition to advance to the final against Hampton Institute of Hampton, Va.
Turnbull was not the only Chapman player to dominate in Tuesday’s semifinal matches.
Chapman’s No. 6 singles player Paul Wekesa easily defeated Kevin Copeland, 6-2, 6-1. No. 5 John Kline defeated Rollins’ Rich Sherman, 7-5, 6-1. Chapman’s No. 2 Terry Davis, defeated Brian Morrissey, 6-1, 7-6, 7-4. No. 3 John Soldat took his time (2 hours and 47 minutes), but defeated Rollins’ Jonas Martensson, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. And Turnbull turned the day’s feature match between No. 1 players into no match at all, with a swift 6-3, 6-3 win over Brian Talgo.
Chapman’s only loss was when Rollins’ No. 4 singles player, Pat Emmet defeated John Hancock, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Chapman clinched the team victory in the early-morning semifinal matches, so NCAA officials decided to dispense with Chapman’s team doubles competition against Rollins to give Turnbull and his (team) mates the afternoon off.
“This sure beats working,” Turnbull said.
Don’t let his casualness fool you. For Turnbull and the others, getting a berth in the finals was only the beginning of their work.