USC Women Top UCLA For Sole Possession Of Pac-10 Crown|
April 17, 2009
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The No. 9 USC women's tennis team already had its name etched in the Pac-10 history books as conference champions entering today's regular-season finale, but the Trojans had plenty more to play for than that. Friday afternoon's clash against crosstown rival UCLA offered up a chance for USC to snap a five-match losing skid against the Bruins, wrap up an undefeated Pac-10 season, grab the Trojans' 20th win of the year, and put a stop to 21 years of Stanford standing at the top of the Pac-10 standings. USC put the finishing touches on all of that in tacking up a 5-2 win over No. 10 UCLA. The Trojans are the sole owners of their first-ever Pac-10 Championship and have improved to 20-2 overall on the year while finishing conference play with a perfect 8-0 mark - and at the same time setting up for the postseason riding a 12-match winning streak.
It all began in doubles. Momentum was built early with a surge from the No. 2 doubles position, as USC's #65 Sarah Fansler / Lyndsay Kinstler peeled out to a 7-0 lead on UCLA's #56 Seguso/Wetmore. The Trojans pocketed an 8-2 decision for the early advantage, although the Bruins evened things from the No. 1 slot on #4 Remynse/Schnack's 8-4 win over USC's #11 pair Amanda Fink / Gabriela Niculescu. Sealing the deal in doubles for the Trojans was USC's #86 duo Alison Ramos / Maria Sanchez, who coolly passed up their Bruin opponents Joelson/Pantic and pinned up an 8-5 win to get USC ahead 1-0 and bring up an entertaining singles stretch.
While battles were raging all around her, USC's #76 Gabriela Niculescu made what was relatively quick work of her Bruin opponent, Nina Pantic, with a 6-3, 6-1 win at the No. 4 position to lift the Trojans ahead 2-0 in the match. Meanwhile, in a powerful clash at No. 1, UCLA's #15 Yasmin Schnack was able to take a 7-6 (2), 6-2 win over #18 Maria Sanchez to make it a 2-1 USC lead overall. From there, the rest of the matches pushed on into deciding third sets. From the far corner of Marks Stadium, USC's Leyla Entekhabi plowed her way through a big match at the No. 6 spot. Entekhabi grabbed the first set, but saw Carling Seguso snag the second. In the third, Entekhabi gutted out several monstrously long games to tack up a shutout in the third, forcing USC ahead 3-1 with her 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 win over Seguso at No. 6.
At No. 3, #34 Sarah Fansler found herself in a third set with #95 Maya Johansson. In the third, the two traded breaks and Fansler trailed 2-3 until a hold and a break back got ahead for the first time in the set, up 4-3. Fansler broke Johansson next for a 5-3 lead, and although Johansson would cut it to 5-4, Fansler held strong and dealt out one last break to win her match 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 and clinch a history-making victory for the Trojans.
With the match in Trojan control, UCLA was able to get a second point from the No. 5 position as Ashley Joelson fought back to get a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win over USC's #65 Alison Ramos. That left #28 Amanda Fink plugging away against #53 Andrea Remynse at the No. 2 slot. Fink had dropped the first set but rallied back to take the second from Remynse and force the match into a 10-point tiebreak in the third. There, the Trojan senior shoved her way out of two late tie-ups, never trailing in the tiebreak and claiming the win 4-6, 7-5, (10-8) in her final regular-season home match as a Trojan. Fink's win wrapped up a 5-2 win over the visiting Bruins and also notched the senior's 17th straight singles win as the teams now turn to individual action coming soon at the Pac-10 Tournament in Ojai.
#9 USC 5, #2 UCLA 2