Danielle Lao Wins ITA Regional Championship|
Oct. 25, 2010
LOS ANGELEs, CALIF. -- Rainy skies and a change of venue couldn't change one thing for certain about today's ITA Southwest Regional singles championship. There would be a Trojan holding the crown by day's end. After spectacular runs through their brackets in singles, two Women of Troy squared off in today's title match. True to form, it was a hard-fought affair, lasting three tough sets as both Trojans battled for the upper hand. The final swing, however, was dealt by sophomore Danielle Lao, who served up a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over her teammate Maria Sanchez to lay claim to her first ITA Southwest Regional Championship. That goes along with another USC victory on the doubles courts, as Trojans Valeria Pulido and Alison Ramos captured the doubles championship yesterday in San Diego.
Sanchez entered the match as the two-time defending champion and as the top seed in this year's tournament. Lao was not intimidated by her powerful senior teammate's momentum coming into the match. Originally scheduled to be played in San Diego -- the site of the tournament throughout the weekend -- rains postponed the start of the match, and the decision was made to move the match up to Los Angeles to USC's home courts at Marks Stadium. Under clear skies but still with swirling winds, the Trojans set up for their title match this afternoon.
Lao came out firing and put Sanchez in a 5-0 hole before a booming service game got Sanchez back on the board. Lao would hold on for the first set win, however, going up 6-2 and then taking a slim lead up 2-1 in the second. Sanchez held serve and then got her first break of Lao to get a boost and work ahead 4-3. Sanchez did not give up a point in her next service game to pad her lead to 5-3 before breaking Lao one last time to even up the match 6-2, 3-6 and bring up a third set. There, Lao settled back in and pushed ahead once again, going up 3-0 and later getting ahead 5-1. She had match point on Sanchez twice in the next game, but Sanchez gutted it out to hold serve and make it 5-2, only to see Lao pull off the victory on the next opportunity and wrap up a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory to lock down the singles crown.
As the Southwest Regional champion, Lao has secured a place at the upcoming ITA National Indoor Championships in New York. Sanchez already had her spot in the tourney as the nation's No. 3 player and in reaching the regional quarterfinals. Lao and Sanchez will have their doubles champion teammates Pulido and Ramos also on board for the New York competition, which gets underway November 4-7.
Complete results and schedule for the Women of Troy are below.
ITA Southwest Regional Championships
Round of 64 - Thurs., Oct. 21
Round of 32 -- Fri., Oct. 22
Round of 16 - Fri., Oct. 22
Quarterfinals - Sat., Oct. 23
Round of 32 - Fri., Oct. 22
Round of 16 - Sat., Oct. 23
Quarterfinals - Sat., Oct. 23
Semifinals - Sun., Oct. 24
Championship - Sun., Oct. 24