Women's Tennis
    No. 16 USC Women Open 2012 On Friday At Home

    The Women of Troy play their first home match this Friday at 1:30 p.m.

    Jan. 18, 2012

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    The No. 16 USC women's tennis team kicks off the 2012 season on the home courts of Marks Stadium this week. The Women of Troy open the year's dual-match stretch against No. 57 UC Irvine on Friday (Jan. 20) at 1:30 p.m.

    The first round of 2012 Campbell/ITA national rankings were unfurled Jan. 3, with the USC women starting out at No. 16 in the land after finishing 2011 at No. 19. Four Women of Troy also pop up in the individual rankings as well. Freshman Sabrina Santamaria (winner of the 2011 ITA Southwest Regional singles crown) tops the singles list at No. 18 just a step ahead of her No. 19 classmate and fellow regional finalist and recent Freeman Memorial champ Zoë Scandalis. Junior Danielle Lao -- winner of the NCTC singles crown last week -- is next at No. 42, and sophomore Kaitlyn Christian is No. 99. Christian and Santamaria also own the title of 2011 National Indoor Doubles Champions, and start out 2012 as the No. 3 ranked doubles team in the nation.

    The No. 47 Anteaters have their season opener against CSU Bakersfield on Wednesday (Jan. 18) before heading to Troy on Friday. USC is 24-0 all-time against UC Irvine, with the last win a 6-1 decision over the Anteaters in 2010 at USC. UCI has no players in the ITA national rankings to start the 2012 season.

    USC freshman Zoë Scandalis delivered an upset blow to the top-ranked player in the nation as she gutted out a 6-7 (8), 7-6 (5), 6-3 comeback win over Stanford's #1 Mallory Burdette to win it all at the Freeman Memorial in Las Vegas on Jan. 15. Also in title match action in Vegas was Trojan doubles pair Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria. The sophomore-freshman combination worked into today's doubles final at the Freeman Memorial with an 8-4 win over UCLA's Anderson/Morton. In the championship, the Trojan duo faced another Bruin combination in Montez/Dolehide. Christian/Santamaria were unable to pull out the win, however, taking an 8-4 loss to finish as runners-up in the doubles draw. That gives #3 ranked Christian/Santamaria their second tournament title together, going along with the 2011 National Indoor Championship claimed in the fall as the pair holds a 15-3 overall douhbles mark entering dual-match play.

    While USC's underclassmen were winning titles in Las Vegas, junior Danielle Lao won her first title since the 2010 ITA Southwest Singles Championship when she upset top-seeded and #29 ranked Emily Fraser of Virginia in a decisive second set in a 7-6 (5), 6-0 win. That claimed the singles crown at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in La Quinta, Calif., on Jan. 15 for #42-ranked Lao, who now holds a 9-3 singles mark on the season.

    Freshman Sabrina Santamaria became the fourth straight Trojan to win the ITA Women's Regional Singles Championship with her winning run through the 2011 ITA Southwest Championship tourney in San Diego this fall. The Trojan went up against fellow freshman Zoë Scandalis in the title match, netting a 6-2, 6-1 win. Santamaria was unseeded entering the tourney, and served up surprises for four top-10 seeds during her run to the title. Scandalis was one of those seeded opponents, sitting as No. 10 and with a pair of victories over seeded opponents during her course to the final. One of those wins came in another all-Trojan battle, as Scandalis and defending champ, top-seeded teammate Danielle Lao, squared off in the quarterfinals. It was the third all-Trojan singles final in the past four regionals, as the Women of Troy have claimed the regional singles crown for four straight seasons now. Maria Sanchez won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009 (beating teammate Alison Ramos in 2008); Danielle Lao won in 2010 (beating Sanchez); and now Sabrina Santamaria has claimed the 2011 title. USC missed out on the singles title in 2007, but got another championship from Sarah Fansler in 2006 and also a title from Amanda Fink in 2005 to make it six Trojan championships in the past seven seasons.

    The USC women are coming off a 15-8 record and a 4-4 finish in Pac-10 play in 2011. The Trojans wound up the year ranked No. 19 in the final ITA team rankings after reaching the NCAA Second Round. In NCAA individual action, Kaitlyn Christian and Maria Sanchez made history with an appearance in the NCAA Doubles Semifinals, becoming the first Women of Troy team ever to reach the NCAA doubles semis. Both earned ITA All-American honors in 2011, with freshman Christian also named the ITA Southwest Region Player to Watch, and senior Sanchez the ITA National Senior Player of the Year to go along with her honor as the Pac-10 Player of the Year. Danielle Lao was named to the All-Pac-10 Second Team. Playing in the NCAA individual tournament were Christian (doubles), Lao (singles, Valeria Pulido (doubles), Alison Ramos (doubles) and Sanchez (singles and doubles). Final ITA rankings had Sanchez #3 in singles and #5 in doubles with Christian. Christian was #90 in singles, and Lao was #23 in singles. Pulido/Ramos were #28 in doubles.