USC Women Suffer Round of 16 Stunner, Falling To Stanford 4-3|
May 17, 2013
URBANA, ILL. -- The No. 5 seeded USC women's tennis team saw its NCAA run come to a heart-wrenching end when an all-out battle with No. 12 seed Stanford went the way of the Cardinal with a 4-3 decision in today's NCAA Round of 16 in Urbana, Ill. The Cardinal issued some payback for the Trojans' upset win over Stanford in last year's NCAA Quarterfinals, as the two Pac-12 powers had to square off a whole round earlier in this year's draw. In order to pull this one out, Stanford had to work out a way to snap a 15-match win streak held by the Trojans. Eking out the doubles point was the first step, and Stanford was finally able to pull off the clincher with a three-setter on court five to wrap up the intense match as a 4-3 Cardinal victory. USC finishes the season with a 23-3 overall record.
Doubles play featured some dramatic momentum shifts. Stanford drew first blood on an 8-1 win by Dillon/Hardebeck over USC's DeSimone/Lao on court three, but USC fired back with Giuliana Olmos and Zoë Scandalis' 8-6 win over #28 Tan/Tsay at the the No. 2 spot. That put all the marbles on court one, where USC's undefeated pairing of #2 Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria were engaged in an unpredictable battle with Stanford's #8 Ahn/Gibbs. Christian/Santamaria were on point out of the gates, going up 4-1 on the Cardinal until the tables turned. Ahn/Gibbs rattled off the next six games to put the Trojans in a 4-7 hole. Then it was the Trojans' turn to regroup and push back. USC broke the Cardinal twice and held serve to go back on top, up 8-7. Stanford would force the tiebreaker with a hold next, and the Cardinal found a hot spot in the breaker to snag the upset on a 9-8 (2) victory that point the first point of the day in Stanford's column and hand Christian/Santamaria their first loss of the season.
Stanford took a 2-0 lead when #103 Stacey Tan posted a 6-2, 6-2 win over USC's Giuliana Olmos at the No. 4 spot. USC got on the board next, however, when Kaitlyn Christian caught fire and rolled up a 6-3, 6-1 win over Natalie Dillon on court two. Again, Stanford would find a way to force ahead. On court one, Stanford's #13 Nicole Gibbs was able to solve USC's top gun, #2 Sabrina Santamaria, and snap the Trojan sophomore's 21-match win streak with a 7-6 (3), 6-2 decision that made it 3-1 Cardinal.
USC would regroup and respond to the pressure, though. At the No. 3 position, #27 Zoë Scandalis fought her way out of a 3-5 hole in the second set, forcing a tiebreaker against #14 Krista Hardebeck. Scandalis had more comeback juice left in the tank during the tiebreaker, staring down another 3-5 deficit and hammering out a 7-5 win in the breaker to notch a 6-3, 7-6 (5) win over Hardebeck for a lift to cut the score to 3-2. Arguably the gutsiest effort of the day for USC came on court two, where senior Danielle Lao was bound and determined to capture a big point for the Women of Troy. Tied up 5-5 in the third set against Stanford's #25 Kristie Ahn, #9 Lao was a warrior through the next two games, breaking Ahn for a 6-5 edge and then hauling in the victory from the service line for a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 win that pulled the Trojans even 3-3 with the Cardinal.
That put the decider on court five. #79 Gabriella DeSimone was locked 3-3 with Stanford's #92 Ellen Tsay in the third set, but Tsay was able to come through in the final stretch. Tsay finished off the jarring upset for the Cardinal with a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 comeback that pushed Stanford past USC, stealing a spot in the Quarterfinals.
The Women of Troy still have national championship hopes alive on the individual side of things. Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria will look to regroup and get back to their winning form as the No. 2 seeds into the coming NCAA Doubles Championships, which begin on May 23. In singles, Santamaria is also seeded No. 2 in that draw, joined by Danielle Lao and Zoë Scandalis with eyes on deep runs in the singles scene when that starts up on May 22.
2013 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex Urbana, Ill.)
Round of 16 - Friday, May 17
 Stanford 4,  USC 3
Records: USC 23-3, Stanford 19-4