Maria Sanchez Is National Indoor Champion|
Nov. 7, 2010
FLUSHING, N.Y. - USC senior Maria Sanchez chiseled her place as the nation's best today in handing out yet another upset at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships with her three-set victory in the title match in New York. Up against yet another higher seeded opponent - and a familiar one at that - in top-ranked and No. 2 seeded Jana Juricova of Cal, No. 7 seed Sanchez remained stalwart and successful. The Trojan dealt out a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 win over Juricova to rob the defending champ of a repeat title and put her own name on the championship trophy.
Juricova, the top-ranked player in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, was looking to become the fourth player in history to win the indoor singles title in consecutive years. She had beaten Sanchez in their last two meetings last season, with Sanchez claiming one win in the previous five clashes between the two Pac-10 players. But it was Sanchez's most recent history that mattered in this year's battle. The Trojan had beaten three top-10 players during the extremely competitive National Indoor Championship on her way into today's title match with Juricova.
Coming into the championship, No. 3-ranked Sanchez managed straight-set victories over two top-10 ranked opponents in Friday's matches with a 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Clemson's Josipa Bek in the Round of 16, followed by a 6-2, 6-2 upset of No. 4 seeded Denise Muresan of Michigan in the quarterfinals.
The semifinals offered up another chance for Sanchez to take down a higher-seeded opponent in No. 6 Allie Will of Florida, who had just upset the tournament's top seed in the quarterfinals. Sanchez held tough in the first set to win that one, and although Will pulled through to take the second set, Sanchez dug in and took no prisoners in the third set, tacking up a 7-5, 4-6, 6-0 win to earn her place in the championship.
With Sanchez continuing her red-hot play, Juricova looked as though she didn't know what had hit her after a very fast-paced first set, won by Sanchez, 6-2 in commanding fashion. However, even Sanchez knew Juricova wasn't ready to just hand over the title and that closing out the Cal junior would prove to be a tall order. Juricova evened up the match after firing back with a 6-3 win in the second set. The final set began to look very similar to the first as Sanchez jumped out early by breaking Juricova. Still, the Cal Bear would refuse to go down without a fight, clawing back to a 4-5 deficit before Sanchez was able to close out the victory and finally take down her familiar foe for the first time in the last four meetings.
"Jana's a great player and has beaten me quite a few times, so I'm really happy to get this win today," Sanchez said. "It's such a great feeling being the Indoor Champion!"
2010 USTA/ITA NATIONAL INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
Round of 16 - Nov. 5
Quarterfinals - Nov. 5
Semifinals - Nov. 6
Championship - Nov. 7
Quarterfinals - Nov. 5