Vanderbilt Pulls Off NCAA Semifinal Upset Of Top-Seeded USC Women|
May 18, 2015
WACO, TEXAS -- The top-seeded USC women's tennis team saw its NCAA campaign come to a close in the semifinals tonight, falling 4-0 to No. 4 seeded Vanderbilt in a match that was far closer than the final score would indicate. After a delayed start and a 45-minute break for lightning at Hurd Tennis Center in Waco, Texas, eventually there were three-set matches on tap on four courts when the Commodores managed to bring things to a close. The semifinal trip was the Trojans' second in four seasons, and USC's 25-3 final overall record marks the most wins by the program since USC won the NCAA title in 1985.
The Commodores snagged the early advantage with doubles wins on courts one and two. At the No. 1 spot, Vanderbilt's #20 Campbell/Colton proved too powerful for USC's #24 Zoë Katz and Sabrina Santamaria, as the Commodore pair moved out ahead and kept space between themselves and the Trojans for an 8-2 win. The remaining doubles matches saw both teams tangled up in tight battles. On court two, USC's #19 Giuliana Olmos and Zoë Scandalis got out to a 6-4 lead on Vanderbilt's Antal/Sharma before the Commodores pulled back even. At the same time, USC's freshman combo pack of Gabby Smith and Madison Westby were even at 5-5 with Vanderbilt's Altick/Casares at the No. 3 spot. The Commodores on court two made their move at that point, pushing out ahead of Olmos/Scandalis and holding serve for the 8-6 win that wrapped up the doubles point for Vanderbilt and suspended action on court three with USC's Smith/Westby up 6-5.
Just as Vanderbilt's 1-0 lead went up on the board, lightning in the area prompted officials to suspend all competition for a 30-minute delay. Teams went to their locker rooms to wait for the all-clear. After about 45 minutes of down time, the teams got back to the courts for singles play, and the Commodores proved the early aggressors. Vanderbilt would snag the first set on four courts before USC freshmen Gabby Smith and Meredith Xepoleas got on the board with a first-set victory in their matches. Vanderbilt hung on to its leads on two courts, as #61 Courtney Colton was able to make it a 2-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over USC's #57 freshman Madison Westby on court four. On court two, USC's #38 senior Zoë Scandalis was in a battle against #96 Frances Altick, who made a winning move late in the second set to notch a 6-2, 6-2 win and make it a 3-0 Vanderbilt lead.
The remaining matches were entirely unpredictable. On courts one and two, USC's #24 Sabrina Santamaria and #14 Giuliana Olmos had shaken off their respective first-set losses and fired back in the second to force a third set. Meanwhile, USC freshmen #78 Gabby Smith and #79 Meredith Xepoleas were locking their focus on extended matches on courts five and six, respectively. On serve in the early stages of the third set, Olmos saw her opponent, #42 Astra Sharma, pull ahead. She would be unable to reel her Commodore foe back in, though, and got stuck with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 loss that brought the match to a close. Santamaria was in an all-out battle in her third set against #8 Sydney Campbell on court one, while freshmen Smith and Xepoleas were looking at third sets.
The Women of Troy wrap a heroic 2015 season with a 25-3 record to mark the most wins in head coach Richard Gallien's 20-year tenure with the program. This year, USC went undefeated in Pac-12 play to win another conference title, and worked its way to the top of the national rankings for the first time since 2003. Seeded No. 1 in this year's NCAA draw, the Trojans entered this tourney as the top seed for the first time since 1985, when USC last won a national championship. In all, it was an outstanding season for the Women of Troy, who were a balanced mix of veteran strength and freshman talent. For seniors Gabriella DeSimone, Sabrina Santamaria and Zoë Scandalis, this year marked their second NCAA Semifinal appearance, having reached that round as freshmen in 2012.
Olmos, Santamaria, Scandalis and Westby are now lined up for NCAA Singles competition beginning May 20 in Waco. Katz and Santamaria, along with Olmos and Scandalis, also will be paired up in NCAA Doubles action, starting May 21.
2015 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Hurd Tennis Center Waco, Texas)