No. 4 USC Women Upset No. 1 UCLA For Pac-12 Title|
April 20, 2012
WESTWOOD, CALIF. -- The No. 4 USC women's tennis team knocked off the nation's top team today, and to make the win ever sweeter, that team happened to be crosstown rival UCLA. The Trojans and the top-ranked Bruins were tangling for the third time this season in today's matchup at UCLA's Los Angeles Tennis Center, but it was USC that came out on top with the upset win to snap a stretch of six straight losses to the rival Bruins. USC's 6-1 win over No. 1 UCLA also secured at least a share of the Pac-12 Championship for the Women of Troy, who improve to 20-3 overall and hold a 9-1 record in conference play to finish atop the Pac-12 standings.
USC, UCLA, Stanford and California all entered this final week of the regular season with just one Pac-12 loss apiece. The Cardinal (7-1) and the Bears (8-1) will play tomorrow, and regardless of the outcome USC will share the rights to the Pac-12 Championship title with one of those teams thanks to today's win. USC last claimed a conference title in 2009 -- also the last time the Trojans had beaten the Bruins.
The biggest boost toward victory today came early when the Women of Troy won the doubles point. The Bruins had been able to grab the early advantage in the previous two meetings between USC and UCLA this season, but today the Trojans flexed back. Danielle Lao and Alison Ramos pushed ahead first, claiming an 8-6 win over Jones/Seguso on court three. UCLA put the pressure on court one when its #9-ranked Dolehide/Montez topped USC's #49 Valeria Pulido / Zoe Scandalis 8-6 at the No. 2 spot, but USC's #7 Kaitlyn Christian / Sabrina Santamaria were up to the challenge. The young Trojan pair was up against UCLA's #11 Anderson/Morton, and it took another 8-6 decision to wrap up doubles play -- this one pulled out heroically by USC's Christian/Santamaria to put the Trojans ahead 1-0 in the match.
Momentum stayed solidly with the Trojans from there. On the No. 2 singles court, USC's #29 freshman Sabrina Santamaria kept her impressive win streak alive and well as she claimed her 10th straight singles win with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Pamela Montez to bring USC to a 2-0 advantage. Her doubles teammate Kaitlyn Christian was also duly boosted by their doubles success, as the #75 Trojan sophomore rattled off a 6-4, 6-3 win over UCLA's #107 Skylar Morton from court four, and USC was a win away from wrapping up the upset. At the No. 6 spot, USC junior Valeria Pulido not only kept her dual-match singles slate clean, she also topped off arguably USC's biggest win since a 2009 upset of Stanford. Pulido's ninth dual-match win of the year came with a 6-3, 7-5 decision over UCLA's #118 Kaitlyn Ray, and the Women of Troy were in the books with the victory on a 4-0 advantage.
Not to be left out of the big wins on the day, USC freshman #20 Zoe Scandalis delivered a straight-set upset of UCLA's #3 Robin Anderson on court one, dispatching the Bruin with a 6-2, 7-5 win that bumped the Trojans ahead 5-0. UCLA's lone point of the day would come on a three-setter from #110 Chanelle Van Nguyen at the No. 5 position over USC freshman Gabriella DeSimone. The 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 win by Van Nguyen made it 5-1, but the Women of Troy had the last word on the day. After trailing in her first set, USC #18 junior Danielle Lao powered up for a straight-set win over UCLA's #96 McCall Jones. Lao tacked up a 7-6 (1), 6-3 win over Jones, and the celebrating could officially begin for the Women of Troy.
With the regular season wrapped, the USC women next move into individual play at the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, Calif. Action starts up April 26 and runs through April 29 with Pac-12 singles and doubles titles up for grabs. From there, the Trojans await the seedings for the NCAA Tournament, which is set to begin on May 11.
#4 USC 6, #1 UCLA 1