Women's Tennis
    No. 4 USC Women Stay Home For Two More Tests This Week

    Gabby Smith and the Women of Troy defend their home courts this week against Pepperdine and Saint Mary's.
    Jan. 27, 2016

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    THIS WEEK
    The No. 4 Women of Troy dig farther into their 2016 campaign this week with two more matches at Marks Stadium. USC (1-0) first plays host to No. 18 Pepperdine in a 1 p.m. clash on Friday (Jan. 29). The Trojans will then turn to welcome No. 47 Saint Mary's in a noon showdown on Saturday (Jan. 30).

    THE LAST MEETING
    USC4
    Pepperdine3
    January 30, 2015
    Malibu, Calif.
    No. 14 USC Women Pick Up Tough Win At Pepperdine
    The No. 14 USC women's tennis team was pushed to the brink in Malibu today, but showed its mettle in pulling out a 4-3 comeback win over host No. 30 Pepperdine. Momentum shifted from the Trojans' favor early to the Waves' advantage as USC was in a 3-2 hole with two matches still raging on. After Giuliana Olmos pulled USC even from court one, all eyes turned to court two, where senior Zoë Scandalis was working her way out of a 5-2 deficit in her third set. She'd push it to a tiebreaker, and emerge victorious with an impressive comeback and the clincher to keep the Women of Troy undefeated at 4-0 on the year.

    THE LAST MEETING
    USC5
    Saint Mary's2
    February 21, 2015
    Moraga, Calif.
    No. 11 USC Secures Another Road Win, Topping Saint Mary's 5-2
    The No. 11 USC women's tennis team rounded out a victorious road trip through the Bay Area by tacking up a 5-2 win over No. 41 host Saint Mary's today in Moraga. Coming off of an emotional comeback upset of No. 5 California the previous day, the Women of Troy misfired in doubles play but were quick to recover. USC rattled off four straight singles wins to lock in on the victory, with Zoë Katz providing the clincher in this one from court six. The Trojans are now 10-1 overall on the year with their sixth consecutive win in the books.

    ORACLE/ITA RANKINGS UPDATES
    The Women of Troy -- NCAA semifinalists in 2015 -- started the new year right where they left off, as the No. 2 team in the land in the first team rankings of 2016. This week, USC has moved to No. 4 in the latest round of national rankings (Jan. 27). In the opening set of individual rankings (Jan. 5), USC boasts two doubles teams in the nation's top-15, led by the senior-sophomore combo of Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith, who stand as the #4-ranked doubles pair. On the singles side, there are five USC women standing tall in the national singles rankings. Led by lone senior Giuliana Olmos -- who ranks #42 in the nation in singles and is also ranked at two spots in doubles, including the #4 pairing with sophomore Gabby Smith -- the USC women have two freshmen standing out in the national rankings alongside three ranked returners. Freshman Rianna Valdes is next in line at #48 in the nation, followed by sophomore Madison Westby at #49 and freshman Jessica Failla at #76. Junior Zoë Katz also is locked into the singles rankings at #114. Failla and Smith weigh in at #13 in the doubles rankings, and Olmos/Valdes rank #54 in the land.

    MARKS STADIUM UPGRADE
    The USC men's and women's tennis teams have called the David X. Marks Tennis Stadium home since its construction in 1971. This year, Trojan tennis will move back into a revamped and renovated home that is up-to-date and in line with the impressive accomplishments of both programs. The courts have been open for action throughout construction, and now the ribbon-cutting and dedication for the new facility is set for Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. That day, the Trojan Family will officially unveil the newest additions to the Marks Tennis Stadium -- the Buntmann Family Tennis Center, Fritz B. Burns Center Court, Lisa and Douglas Goldman Family Student-Athlete Learning Center and Michael Uytengsu Tennis Pavilion -- the happy home of the USC men's and women's tennis teams. The Buntmann Family Tennis Center entrance and lobby will welcome fans and visitors and put on display the rich history of USC tennis. To improve the building functionality and support the tennis program operations, the new Lisa and Douglas Goldman Family Student-Athlete Learning Studio will support direct collaboration between coaches, staff and athletes on a daily basis. The teams will be able to utilize and enjoy brand-new suites with lockers, showers, team meeting rooms and lounges. Both teams will have access to a new training room, a stringing storage area and a large multi-purpose room. To better accommodate and enhance the spectator experience, new spectator shade canopies will be added, a new elevator to the seating area will be installed. In addition to the lead gift from the Buntmann family, the renovation has been made possible thanks to financial support from the Lisa and Douglas Goldman family, the Fritz B. Burns Foundation, John Shea and Michael Uytengsu.

    SCOUTING PEPPERDINE
    The No. 18 Waves are 1-1 overall after losing to #18 Ohio State 4-3 and beating Houston 5-0 last week in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Pepperdine has three players nationally ranked in singles: #14 Luisa Stefani, #96 Dzina Milovanovic and #102 Laura Gulbe. In doubles, Pepperdine has #8 Runglerdkriangkrai/Stefani, #18 Cutura/Maddox and #45 Gulbe/Milovanovic USC is 44-12 all-time against the Waves after grabbing back-to-back wins last season -- a 4-0 win at home and 4-3 victory in Malibu.

    SCOUTING SAINT MARY'S
    The No. 47 Gaels are 1-1 overall after losing to #52 Washington 4-1 and beating Cal State Northridge 4-0 last week in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Saint Mary's has #103 Jamie Pawid nationally ranked in singles and no ranked doubles teams. USC is 5-0 all-time against SMC after a 5-2 win last season in Moraga, Calif.

    LAST WEEK
    USC was put to the test in its season opener against No. 59 UC Santa Barbara, but the Women of Troy proved their resiliency and pulled off a 4-3 comeback win over the visiting Gauchos last week at Marks Stadium. USC and UCSB were neck-and-neck throughout the match, with it all coming down to court six as the decider. There, it was sophomore Meredith Xepoleas who dug in her heels and fought back to win her three-set battle and clinch the match for the Trojans, who now enjoy a 1-0 start to the 2016 campaign. The Women of Troy were upended in the doubles segment as the Gauchos answered Jessica Failla and Zoë Katz' win on court two with victories on courts one and three. Failla and Katz had battled out of a 2-4 deficit in pinning up four straight games to notch the first win of the day with their 6-4 decision ver UCSB's Baker/Gilbertson. The Gauchos would flex back as their #21 pairing of Dubavets/Stojic toppled USC's #4 Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith on court one. That left the decider on court three, where USC's Madison Westby and Meredith Xepoleas saw their Gaucho foes stage a comeback to win it and clinch the first point of the day for UCSB on a 6-4 victory from Adler/Atanasson. No singles match would come easily today, it would turn out. Three matches stretched to three sets and the other trio of straight-set decisions involved tense tiebreakers. USC freshman Jessica Failla would plug in the first Trojan point of the day after notching a 7-6, 6-1 win over Jaimee Gilbertson on court four, starting off #76 Failla's first career dual match on a strong note. On court five, USC junior Zoë Katz was back in action after being sidelined by injury, and her Gaucho opponent, Amanda Atanasson, was able to fight off #114 Katz with a second-set tiebreaker to take UCSB ahead 2-1 on a 6-3, 7-6 win over Katz. Next, USC sophomore Madison Westby got her groove back in her third set against Lou Adler on court three. The #49 Westby zoomed out ahead and stayed there to finish off a 6-0, 4-6, 6-0 victory that leveled the match again at 2-2. On court one, USC senior Giuliana Olmos got tangled up in two tight sets against UCSB's Stefani Stojic. Still, the #42 Olmos was able to reign supreme, taking her Trojans to a 3-2 advantage with her 7-5, 7-6 win over Stojic. Again, however, the Gauchos forced the hand of their hosts. With three-setters continuing to rage on courts two and six, it was up to two Trojan sophomores to finish out the match. On court two, USC's Gabby Smith was entrenched in a battle with UCSB's Palina Dubavets, and the Gaucho was able to fight off Smith for a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 decision that pulled the teams even once more. That put all eyes on court six, were Meredith Xepoleas had been unable to get ahead of Stephanie Yamada in the third set. With the pressure cranked up, however, Xepoleas shined through. She'd turn a 3-4 deficit into victory for herself and her team, as the sophomore's 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 comeback win iced the 4-3 victory for the Women of Troy.

    LAST SEASON
    The 2015 Women of Troy had a banner season in earning their first #1 national ranking in over a decade and working their way to the NCAA Semifinals for the second time in four seasons. USC's 25-3 final overall record marked the most wins by the program since USC won the NCAA title in 1985 and the most wins in head coach Richard Gallien's 20-year tenure with the program. The Trojans also went undefeated in Pac-12 play in 2015 to win another conference title, and worked its way to the top of the national rankings for the first time since 2003. USC also was seeded No. 1 in the 2015 NCAA draw -- the Trojans' 24th consecutive trip to the tournament -- entering the tourney as the top seed for the first time since 1985, when USC last won a national championship. In all, it was an outstanding season for the Women of Troy, who were a balanced mix of veteran strength and freshman talent. For seniors Gabriella DeSimone, Sabrina Santamaria and Zoë Scandalis, the year marked their second NCAA Semifinal appearance, having reached that round as freshmen in 2012. Santamaria and junior Giuliana Olmos both picked up ITA All-American honors at the close of the season. Scandalis would go on to earn high honors as a top-9 finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year awards. •