Sophomore Meredith Xepoleas got the clincher in a gutsy three-set comeback win.
Jan. 20, 2016
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — The No. 2 USC women’s tennis team was put to the test in its season opener against No. 59 UC Santa Barbara, but the Women of Troy proved their resiliency and pulled off a 4-3 comeback win over the visiting Gauchos today at Marks Stadium. USC and UCSB were neck-and-neck throughout the match, with it all coming down to court six as the decider. There, it was sophomore Meredith Xepoleas who dug in her heels and fought back to win her three-set battle and clinch the match for the Trojans, who now enjoy a 1-0 start to the 2016 campaign.
The Women of Troy were upended in the doubles segment as the Gauchos answered Jessica Failla and Zoë Katz’ win on court two with victories on courts one and three. Failla and Katz had battled out of a 2-4 deficit in pinning up four straight games to notch the first win of the day with their 6-4 decision ver UCSB’s Baker/Gilbertson. The Gauchos would flex back as their #21 pairing of Dubavets/Stojic toppled USC’s #4 Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith on court one. That left the decider on court three, where USC’s Madison Westby and Meredith Xepoleas saw their Gaucho foes stage a comeback to win it and clinch the first point of the day for UCSB on a 6-4 victory from Adler/Atanasson.
No singles match would come easily today, it would turn out. Three matches stretched to three sets and the other trio of straight-set decisions involved tense tiebreakers. USC freshman Jessica Failla would plug in the first Trojan point of the day after notching a 7-6, 6-1 win over Jaimee Gilbertson on court four, starting off #76 Failla’s first career dual match on a strong note. On court five, USC junior Zoë Katz was back in action after being sidelined by injury, and her Gaucho opponent, Amanda Atanasson, was able to fight off #114 Katz with a second-set tiebreaker to take UCSB ahead 2-1 on a 6-3, 7-6 win over Katz. Next, USC sophomore Madison Westby got her groove back in her third set against Lou Adler on court three. The #49 Westby zoomed out ahead and stayed there to finish off a 6-0, 4-6, 6-0 victory that leveled the match again at 2-2.
On court one, USC senior Giuliana Olmos got tangled up in two tight sets against UCSB’s Stefani Stojic. Still, the #42 Olmos was able to reign supreme, taking her Trojans to a 3-2 advantage with her 7-5, 7-6 win over Stojic. Again, however, the Gauchos forced the hand of their hosts. With three-setters continuing to rage on courts two and six, it was up to two Trojan sophomores to finish out the match. On court two, USC’s Gabby Smith was entrenched in a battle with UCSB’s Palina Dubavets, and the Gaucho was able to fight off Smith for a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 decision that pulled the teams even once more. That put all eyes on court six, were Meredith Xepoleas had been unable to get ahead of Stephanie Yamada in the third set. With the pressure cranked up, however, Xepoleas shined through. She’d turn a 3-4 deficit into victory for herself and her team, as the sophomore’s 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 comeback win iced the 4-3 victory for the Women of Troy.
The USC women’s next competition comes next week with two more home matches. The Trojans will host Pepperdine at 1:30 p.m. next Friday (Jan. 29) and then faces visiting Saint Mary’s at 12 p.m. next Saturday (Jan. 30) at Marks Stadium.
#2 USC 4, #59 UC Santa Barbara 3
Jan. 20, 2016 - Marks Stadium (Los Angeles, Calif.)
(1) #21 Dubavets/Stojic (UCSB) def. #4 Olmos/Smith (USC) - 6-3
(2) Failla/Katz (USC) def. Baker/Gilbertson (UCSB) - 6-4
(3) Adler/Atanasson (UCSB) def. Westby/Xepoleas (USC) - 6-4
UCSB wins doubles point.
Order of finish: 2, 1, 3
(1) #42 Giuliana Olmos (USC) def. Stefani Stojic (UCSB) - 7-5, 7-6
(2) Palina Dubavets (UCSB) def Gabby Smith (USC) - 7-5, 4-6, 6-3
(3) #49 Madison Westby (USC) def. Lou Adler (UCSB) - 6-0, 4-6, 6-0
(4) #76 Jessica Failla (USC) def. Jaimee Gilbertson (UCSB) - 7-6, 6-1
(5) Amanda Atanasson (UCSB) def. #114 Zoë Katz (USC) - 6-3, 7-6
(6) Meredith Xepoleas (USC) def. Stephanie Yamada (UCSB) - 3-6, 6-4, 6-4*
Order of finish: 4, 5, 3, 1, 2, 6*