Five Men, Five Women Lock Into NCAA Individual Action
May 4, 2011
The USC men's and women's tennis teams will be well represented once again in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, which kick off May 25 at Stanford's Taube Tennis Center. Making their third straight appearances in the NCAA Singles draw -- and scoring high seeds for this year's journey -- are junior Steve Johnson and senior Maria Sanchez. Joining Johnson in the mix on the men's side are junior Daniel Nguyen, senior Jaak Poldma, sophomore JT Sundling and freshman Ray Sarmiento, with Sanchez accompanied by Women of Troy junior Alison Ramos, sophomores Danielle Lao and Valeria Pulido and freshman Kaitlyn Christian.
Carrying a 25-match singles win streak into next week's NCAA Team competition, top-seeded Pac-10 singles and doubles champion Steve Johnson is looking to become the first Trojan since 1996 to win the NCAA singles title. Only three players have beaten Johnson this season entering NCAA play, but the last to best Johnson -- Stanford's Bradley Klahn back in January -- paid for it in the form of four consecutive straight-set decisions at the hands of the Trojan. Ranked No. 1 in the nation, Johnson totes a 38-3 record into the postseason as he looks to lead USC to a third straight national team title before going in pursuit of individual success. He reached the NCAA Singles first round last year and the NCAA doubles Round of 16 with teammate Robert Farah. As a freshman, Johnson reached the Round of 16 in both NCAA singles and doubles playing with Farah again.
Currently ranked No. 2 in the nation after holding the top slot for several weeks this year, senior Maria Sanchez is seeded No. 2 for 2001 and looking to improve on her NCAA Quarterfinal run last year after winning the ITA National Indoor Singles Championship and making a push to this year's Pac-10 singles and doubles finals. She'll take a 35-4 overall singles mark into the USC women's 20th straight NCAA Championship appearance, as the Women of Troy head to Berkeley next week for the NCAA First and Second Rounds. As a sophomore, Sanchez made a trip to the NCAA Singles first round.
Also making a repeat trip to NCAA individual action is USC sophomore Danielle Lao, who reached the NCAA Singles Round of 32 last year as a freshman and is lined up again to join the singles fray in 2011. The rest of the Trojans in the NCAA mix this year are making their first appearances in the NCAA field of play. Senior Jaak Poldma ranks No. 38 in the nation in singles and No. 22 in doubles with teammate JT Sundling, setting up the senior for double duty in this year's NCAA action with slots in the NCAA Men's Singles and Doubles draws. Junior Daniel Nguyen, meanwhile, holds a No. 44 national singles ranking to make himself eligible for competition in the NCAA Men's Singles bracket. USC will have two men's doubles teams vying for titles this year, as Poldma/Sundling are joined by two more Trojans tabbed with double duty with Johnson and Ray Sarmiento pairing back up as the nation's No. 25 pair lined up for duty in the NCAA Men's Doubles draw. In his freshman season, Sarmiento currently ranks No. 47 in the nation in singles and is also through to NCAA Men's Singles play as the third Trojan in that bracket this year.
The Women of Troy also have two doubles teams tagged for action in the NCAA Women's Doubles Championships. Freshman Kaitlyn Christian and sophomore Valeria Pulido will make their first career appearances in NCAA individual action as they pair up with their respective veterans. Christian and Sanchez join forces as the No. 3 seeded doubles pair in the bracket this year, as the duo are currently ranked No. 4 in the nation. Pulido and junior teammate Alison Ramos enjoy a No. 31 national ranking to lock in on the NCAA doubles field for the first time together. Ramos competed in last year's NCAA Singles competition, reaching the 2010 Round of 32 as a sophomore.
TROJANS IN 2011 NCAA INDIVIDUAL ACTION