Women's Tennis
    USC Women Enter Mix In Michigan for ITA Kick-Off

    Jan. 26, 2011

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    THIS WEEK
    The No. 18 USC women hit the road this week for some solid competition at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The Trojans are off to Ann Arbor, Mich., to fight for the right to a place at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in mid-February. The journey begins this weekend (Jan. 29-30), and opens Saturday with a 10 a.m. ET clash against No. 46 NC State. A win would put the Women of Troy a victory away from the Indoor action, as USC will go up against either No. 8 host Michigan or No. 59 Auburn in Sunday's competition. The consolation match is set for 10 a.m., with the championship bout at 2 p.m. ET.

    ITA KICK-OFF WEEKEND TOURNAMENT CENTRAL

    ITA RANKING UPDATES
    The latest 2011 Campbell/ITA national team rankings were released January 25, with the Women of Troy ranked No. 18 in the nation. Individual rankings came out Jan. 4, with 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.

    ITA KICK-OFF WEEKENDERS
    The Trojans join three teams for action at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Ann Arbor. Host Michigan ranks No. 8 in the latest ITA team rankings. The Wolverines are 1-0 entering the Kick-Off and have three ranked singles players (#11 Denise Muresan, #61 Whitney Taney, #105 Sam Critser) and three ranked doubles teams (#12 Bolender/Nguyen, #52 Critser/Tatsuna, #82 Critser/Sulahian). USC's Saturday opponent NC State is ranked No. 46 and also is 1-0 entering the weekend. The Wolfpack has two ranked singles players (#32 Sanaa Bhambri, #53 Sandhya Nagaraj) and two ranked doubles teams (#7 Bhambri/Nagaraj, #86 Miller/Sipes). And Auburn sits at No. 59 entering its first dual-match action of the year. The Tigers have #21 Kasler/Schippers ranked in doubles.

    LAST WEEK
    USC snagged wins in its opening dual matches of the year in posting 6-1 victories over both Cal State Northridge and No. 46 Long Beach State at Marks Stadium last week. Danielle Lao, Alison Ramos, Kaitlyn Christian, Valeria Pulido and Lyndsay Kinstler all won both their singles matches during the week, while USC swept doubles in both matches on a pair of wins from Pulido/Ramos and Kinstler/Lao.

    FREEMAN SWEEP
    USC made it a championship sweep at the Freeman Memorial Championships in Las Vegas over the weekend. Senior Maria Sanchez reigned supreme across the board with a winning run to the singles title as well as the doubles crown alongside freshman teammate Kaitlyn Christian. Ranked No. 3 in the nation on the singles side, Sanchez snagged the top seed in the singles draw at the Freeman Memorial. The senior served up straight-set wins to all opponents except her semifinal foe Nicole Gibbs of Stanford. But once that win was under her belt, it was cruise control for Sanchez in today's title match. Sanchez topped No. 2 seed Olivia Janowicz of Florida with a smooth 6-3, 6-0 win to claim the singles crown for the USC senior. Next, it was over to the doubles courts to team back up with freshman Kaitlyn Christian as the draw's No. 3 seeded team in the mix. Christian/Sanchez were all business as they took on Bruins Jones/Johansson and posted a powerful 8-4 win over the UCLA pair in today's championship match to lock in on another title for the Trojans.

    BACK ON THE ATTACK
    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.