Women's Tennis
    No. 16 USC Women Travel To Tempe For ITA Kickoff Weekend

    The Women of Troy take aim at a spot in the ITA National Team Indoors with this weekend's Kickoff.

    Jan. 24, 2012

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    THIS WEEK
    The No. 16 USC women's tennis team takes a road trip this weekend for action at the ITA Kickoff Weekend out in Tempe, Ariz. The Trojans join three other teams for competition that serves as a play-in for the coming ITA National Team Indoor Championships. #16 USC (1-0) opens up against #48 Sacramento State (0-0) at 9:30 a.m. MT on Saturday (Jan. 28) for the right to move into the winners' round against either host #20 Arizona State (2-0) or #45 Texas Tech (1-0) on Sunday (Jan. 29). The consolation match is set for 9:30 a.m. MT, and Saturday's winners will meet at 1:30 p.m. MT.

    ITA RANKING UPDATES
    The latest round of 2012 Campbell/ITA national team rankings were unfurled Jan. 24, with the USC women at No. 16 in the land for the second straight cycle after finishing 2011 at No. 19. Four Women of Troy also pop up in the Jan. 3 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.

    SCOUTING SAC STATE
    The No. 48 Hornets are 0-0 on the year after their season-opening matches were rained out last week. USC is 2-0 all-time against Sacramento State, including a 4-0 win in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Sacramento State has #38 Delgado/Kapshai ranked in doubles.

    SCOUTING ASU
    The No. 20 Sun Devils are 2-0 after a 4-3 win over UC Davis and a 6-1 win over UC Santa Barbara last week. USC is 46-22 all-time against ASU after taking two losses to the Sun Devils last season. ASU has #9 Jacqueline Cako ranked in singles.

    SCOUTING TEXAS TECH
    The No. 45 Red Raiders are 1-0 overall after opening the season with a 7-0 sweep of UTEP. USC's only past meeting with Texas Tech was a win in 1981. Texas Tech has #45 Adams/Kilgo ranked in doubles.

    LAST WEEK
    USC pinned up a powerful season-opening statement with a 7-0 sweep of visiting No. 57 UC Irvine last week at Marks Stadium. Anchored by a winning run through doubles play, the Women of Troy rattled off six decisive singles wins. The clincher came from freshman Gabriella DeSimone -- one of three freshmen in the lineup -- who rattled off a 6-1, 6-1 win from her No. 5 position to ensure a 1-0 start to the year for the USC women.

    PICK OF THE PAC
    Riding the momentum of an upset win over top-ranked Mallory Burdette of Stanford and #8 Robin Anderson of UCLA en route to the ensuing Freeman Memorial singles championship, #19-ranked freshman Zoë Scandalis stepped into the No. 1 singles slot for her first dual match as a Trojan and shut out her UC Irvine opponent. For her recent successes, Scandalis was named the Pac-12 Women's Tennis Player of the Week, making her the first Trojan to win the honor this season. Scandalis tallied the first doubles win and first singles win of the day in USC's season opener, winning 8-2 at the No. 3 doubles position with teammate Valeria Pulido, then took to the singles courts to deliver a 6-0, 6-0 sweep of UC Irvine's Courtney Byron on court one. Scandalis holds a six-match singles winning streak and is now 19-3 overall in singles play.

    WINNING BIG IN VEGAS
    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 doubles mark entering dual-match play.

    LAO RISES TO NCTC TITLE
    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.

    SANTAMARIA STRETCHES USC'S SOUTHWEST SUCCESS
    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.

    LAST SEASON
    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.