Women's Tennis
    No. 16 USC Women Fight Back To ITA Indoor Semis

    Gabriella DeSimone has become clincher-extraordinaire for the Women of Troy from her No. 5 spot.

    Feb. 11, 2012

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The No. 16 USC women's tennis team has locked in on its best start since 1999 in claiming its seventh straight win of 2012 with today's 4-1 comeback win over No. 17 Tennessee. The Vols were riding an upset of No. 5 Baylor from the previous day on the way into today's quarterfinal clash with the Trojans at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, but USC also had a boost of confidence with an upset win of its own in a victory over No. 8 UNC yesterday. Today, the Trojans were undeterred when the doubles point slipped away from their grasp. Instead, USC answered the call and flexed its singles muscle with four straight-set wins to plow to a 4-1 win over the Vols. The win puts a 7-0 USC squad in its first semifinal appearance against UCLA at the ITA Indoors since 2003 tomorrow.

    "I think so much emotion is surrounded around the doubles point. It is easy to get too hyped up if you win it, or too down if you lose it. I actually think we have competed well in doubles here. This is better for us than if we were just winning all of the doubles points easily," USC head coach Richard Gallien said.

    The Women of Troy made the same disciplined turnaround yesterday, too, losing a tight doubles point before powering up to four singles wins. Today, Valeria Pulido and Zoe Scandalis teamed up for a doubles win on court three to start the day, but Tennessee managed to pull off wins at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions to take a 1-0 lead in the match. USC wasted no time making a statement in singles, however. #18 freshman Sabrina Santamaria sprinted to a 6-2, 6-1 win over Kata Szekely on court three to level the score at 1-1, and #99 sophomore Kaitlyn Christian pulled out the silencers on Tennessee's Caitlyn Williams. A swift 6-0, 6-0 sweep gave USC a 2-1 lead, leaving the doubles loss far behind as the Trojans pushed on.



    USC had captured the first set on all courts but No. 1, but USC's #19 freshman Zoe Scandalis was powering back up in the second. Meanwhile, #42 junior Danielle Lao - clincher in yesterday's Round of 16 victory - shoved her way past #27 Brynn Boren on court two to lift USC a win away from a ticket to the semis. Lao topped Boren 6-3, 6-4 to put the pressure on the Vols, setting up her Trojan teammates for today's heroics. Freshman Gabriella DeSimone reached the finish line first this time. While Alison Ramos was embroiled in a tight second set on court six and Scandalis was forcing a third set on court one, DeSimone dispatched Sarah Toti with a 6-4, 6-4 victory at the No. 5 spot to land the Women of Troy in the semifinals. USC also reached the ITA National Team Indoor semifinals in 2003 and 1988.

    USC will face second-seeded crosstown rival UCLA tomorrow (Feb. 12) in a 3:30 p.m. ET semifinal out in Charlottesville, Va.

    Quarterfinals - Feb. 11
    #16 USC 4, #17 Tennessee 1
    (1) Pluskota/Williams (TENN) def. #3 Christian/Santamaria (USC) - 9-7
    (2) #18 Boren/Toti (TENN) def. Lao/Ramos (USC) - 8-6
    (3) Pulido/Scandalis (USC) def. Henderson/Szekely (TENN) - 8-5
    TENN wins doubles point.
    Order of finish: 3, 1, 2
    (1) #19 Zoe Scandalis (USC) vs. #24 Natalie Pluskota (TENN) - 3-6, 6-4 susp.
    (2) #42 Danielle Lao (USC) def. #27 Brynn Boren (TENN) - 6-3, 6-4
    (3) #18 Sabrina Santamaria (USC) def. Kata Szekely (TENN) - 6-2, 6-1
    (4) #99 Kaitlyn Christian (USC) def. Caitlyn Williams (TENN) - 6-0, 6-0
    (5) Gabriella DeSimone (USC) def. Sarah Toti (TENN) - 6-4, 6-4*
    (6) Alison Ramos (USC) vs. Joanna Henderson (TENN) - 6-4, 4-5 susp.
    Order of finish: 3, 4, 2, 5