Jose Luis Noriega, University of San Diego senior, refused to blame his 6-0, 6-3 semifinal loss to Stanford’s Alex O’Brien in the NCAA tennis tournament on his ailing shoulder. Instead, he blamed it on his opponent’s superior play.
“My shoulder was OK,” he said. “The injury was not a factor.”
But he said O’Brien’s aggressive play was.
“He came to the net and played smart,” Noriega said. “He didn’t just stay back and rally. He started good and was the first serve-and-volleyer I’ve faced in the tournament . . . so maybe that was a factor too.
“He made me play bad. I was not ready for this match. I had no confidence in the first set, and even in the second, I didn’t get all my confidence back.”
Noriega, who beat O’Brien in straight sets in January, came into the tournament following a two-month break.
But Noriega acknowledged he was not the same player who beat O’Brien in January.
“I was not serving 100% and you need to do that to beat a guy like (O’Brien),” he said. “I knew the only way I could beat him is if he played bad.”
O’Brien never gave Noriega a chance to get going, winning the first six games of the match.
“In the first set, it looked like his feet were stuck in cement,” O’Brien said. “Today, I was just in a groove where everything I hit went in.”
The loss ended a stellar college career for Noriega, who was a four-time All-American for the Toreros.
In the doubles semifinals, San Diego State’s Jeff Belloli and Chris Numbers fell to Chris Cocotos and O’Brien, 6-3, 6-3. Cocotos and O’Brien will play their teammates Vimal Patel and Jason Yee in the finals.