USC Women Upset No. 8 North Carolina
Feb. 10, 2012
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. - The No. 16 USC women's tennis team gutted out its first win over a top-10 team since 2009 with a 4-2 comeback win over No. 8 North Carolina today in the first round of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va. After UNC sneaked away with the doubles point, USC buckled in for the long haul in singles, claiming three straight-set victories before junior Danielle Lao pinned up the heroic clincher with a three-setter from court two. The Women of Troy are now 6-0 on the year and advance to tomorrow's quarterfinals.
"It was definitely a struggle. I was up 4-1 in the first set and lost it. Then I was down in the second set but was able to fight back," Lao said of her winning efforts. "In the third set, it was all about who could keep her nerve. We were both really tight in the third set. She played really well, and I was able to hit a few good shots at the right time. The match really came down to a few points, and I was really fortunate to get those points."
After a split on courts one and two in doubles, the first point of the day was up for grabs on court three with a tiebreaker between USC's Pulido/Scandalis and UNC's Hemm/Lyons. Trojans Lao/Ramos had grabbed a strong 8-1 win at the No. 2 spot to start, but #3 Christian/Santamaria were tripped up 8-5 on court one. At the No. 3 position, Tarheels Hemm/Lyons managed to edge out Pulido/Ramos 10-8 in a tiebreaker to claim a 1-0 lead for North Carolina.
The Women of Troy answered the call in singles, however. USC won the first set on all but one court to build some early momentum. That surge helped carry #99 Kaitlyn Christian to a powerful 6-3, 6-0 win over #55 Caroline Price on court four to level the match 1-1, and then Gabriella DeSimone added to the count with a dominant 6-1, 6-1 win at the No. 5 spot over Gina Suarez-Malaguti. Then, on court three, another freshman came through in the clutch as #18 Sabrina Santamaria pounded out a 6-2, 7-5 win over Shinann Featherston, and USC was up 3-1 in the match.
The rest of the matches stretched into third sets, with UNC's Tessa Lyons pulling off a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Alison Ramos to hand the Trojan senior her first dual-match loss of the year. That sent the drama over to courts one and two. Both USC's Zoe Scandalis and Danielle Lao were poised to make winning moves in their No. 1 and No. 2 singles matches, respectively, but Lao got to the finish line first. The #42 junior shrugged off a loss in the first set and stubbornly held her ground to pin up the clinching victory with a 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 win over #44 Zoe DeBruycker. With the win in-hand, #19 Scandalis' match with #16 Lauren McHale was suspended at 5-5 in the third set.
The No. 16 USC women will now face No. 17 Tennessee at 3 p.m. ET tomorrow in the quarterfinals. The Vols upset No. 5 Baylor 4-0 today in the Round of 16.
USC's last win over a top-10 team was a 5-2 victory over then-No. 10 UCLA on April 17, 2009, at Marks Stadium.
ITA NATIONAL TEAM INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS (Charlottesville, Va.)