Women's Tennis
    USC Women Open Season With Tournament Play

    Jan. 13, 2011

    The No. 19 USC women take their first steps in 2011 competition this weekend with Trojan appearances at two different individual tournaments. The Women of Troy will divide and conquer, with four players heading to Las Vegas for the Freeman Memorial and four more entrenched in action in La Quinta, Calif., at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic. Both tournaments will run January 14-16.

    The first round of 2011 Campbell/ITA national rankings were released January 4, with the Women of Troy weighing in at No. 19 in the nation to start the year. On the individual side, USC has three Trojans ranked in singles and two doubles teams in the mix. Maria Sanchez leads the pack as the reigning National Indoor Singles Champion and the nation's #3 singles player. ITA Southwest Regional Singles Champion Danielle Lao opens the year in the top-10 at #10 on the list. And freshman Kaitlyn Christian kicks off her Trojan career with a #114 singles ranking. In doubles, USC's ITA Southwest Regional Doubles champs Valeria Pulido / Alison Ramos follow up a powerful fall with a #11 rank to start 2011, and Christian/Sanchez have combined forces to rank #80.

    USC has four Women of Troy lined up for competition at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic. Three of those Trojans were in on the action last season, as Danielle Lao, Alison Ramos and Lyndsay Kinstler are making return trips to La Quinta to compete. This weekend marks the first NCTC visit for Valeria Pulido. The Trojans will get in on a tournament battle that includes players from Stanford, North Carolina, Baylor, UCLA, Texas and Oklahoma. Ramos reached the singles semifinals last season, and made it to the doubles semis alongside Lao.



    The Freeman Memorial, hosted by UNLV, has four Trojans ready to ring in the new year. Ranked No. 3 in the nation, senior Maria Sanchez leads the field as the top seed in the singles competition. She'll team up with freshman Kaitlyn Christian for doubles play as the No. 3 seeded team in that draw. The bulk of the action takes place in the Flight 1 brackets for singles and doubles. On the Flight 1 singles side, Sanchez is joined by Cristala Andrews and Kaitlyn Christian, with newcomer Hayley Miller playing in Flight 2 singles. Christian and Sanchez are teamed up in Flight 1 doubles, as are their fellow Trojans Andrews/Miller. Andrews is the only Trojan returning from last year's group that traveled to the Freeman. She reached the consolation singles title match in 2010.

    USC comes off a 2010 season in which the Trojans reached the NCAA Tournament once again, and finished the year at 14-10 overall after a 5-3 mark in Pac-10 play. Whereas last year's Trojans were a largely young squad, the Trojans of 2011 have made the transition to an experienced group. Maria Sanchez clearly enters her senior season as USC's top gun as a 2010 ITA All-American and All-Pac-10 First Team selection. She's had a pair of unrelenting classmates by her side for the past three seasons in Cristala Andrews and Lyndsay Kinstler, who have snagged many a win in singles and doubles for the Trojans and remain factors in the USC lineup. Now a junior, Alison Ramos has proven herself a tough competitor with a knack for winning, and sophomores Danielle Lao and Valeria Pulido have their first year under their belts and are also now widely regarded as talented winners.