Women's Tennis
    USC Women Visit UCLA, Host Washington

    March 1, 2011

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    The No. 15 USC women has a couple big matches on the agenda this week, as the 7-1 Women of Troy first go up against their crosstown rivals with a trip to Westwood on Wednesday (March 2) to do battle with the No. 17 Bruins at 1:30 p.m. at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. USC then comes home for its Pac-10 opener against No. 20 Washington on Friday (March 4) at 1:30 p.m.

    The latest 2011 Campbell/ITA national team rankings were released March 1, with the Women of Troy ranked No. 15 in the nation. Individual rankings also came out March 1, 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 #2 singles player. ITA Southwest Regional Singles Champion Danielle Lao opened the year in the top-10 at #10 on the list and is now #18 in the land. And freshman Kaitlyn Christian now ranks #113. In doubles, USC has ITA Southwest Regional Doubles champs Valeria Pulido / Alison Ramos up to #10 and Kaitlyn Christian and Sanchez ranked #20 after starting out the year at #80.

    The Bruins are ranked No. 17 in the latest ITA rankings and are 7-4 overall after going 1-2 at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, falling 4-3 to Clemson, beating Miami 4-2, and falling 4-2 to Baylor. UCLA has four players ranked in singles (#64 Andrea Remynse, #73 McCall Jones, #119 Carling Seguso and #121 Courtney Dolehide) and three ranked doubles teams (#14 Dolehide/Remynse, #38 Jones/Montez and #41 Johansson/Jones). USC is 42-33 all-time against UCLA, taking a 4-3 and a 6-1 loss last season. The Trojans' last win over the Bruins was in Pac-10 play in 2009, when USC notched a 5-2 win over UCLA on the way to capturing the Pac-10 championship.

    The Huskies are ranked No. 20 in the latest ITA rankings and are 8-4 overall after following up an 0-3 outing at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships with a 4-3 win at TCU. Washington has two players ranked in singles (#6 Denise Dy and #27 Venise Chan) and #6 Chan/Dy ranked in doubles. USC is 17-2 all-time against Washington, getting a 5-2 win over the Huskies last season, although Washington's second win over the Trojans was a big one in 2009 when the Huskies beat USC in the 2009 NCAA Second Round.

    USC notched its fourth straight win with a 5-2 road victory over host San Diego last weekend. The Trojans put a stop to a four-match win streak held by the Toreros, as Danielle Lao secured the clinching singles match with a comeback victory for the sophomore's fourth straight win. USC swept the doubles point with strong wins down the line for some good momentum going into singles play. The Toreros would pull even twice during singles play until USC edged ahead once more on Valeria Pulido's eighth consecutive singles win - a straight-set victory at No. 5 over Anna Depenau. Win streaks were also extended for Lao and Maria Sanchez, who both gutted out three-set comeback wins to add to the Trojan tally. #25 Lao pulled through first with the clincher, bouncing back solidly for an 0-6, 7-5, 6-4 win over Josymar Escalona on court two, getting the sophomore her fourth consecutive singles win. Meanwhile, #1 Sanchez regrouped from a first-set loss to work her way out to her 16th consecutive win on a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory over #66 Stephanie Hoffpauir.

    USC senior Maria Sanchez rode a 15-match win streak all the way to the top of the ITA/Campbell National Rankings, as the Trojan took over as the top player in women's collegiate tennis in the Feb. 14 rankings. Sanchez opened the spring ranked No. 3 overall, having established herself as a national champion in winning the prestigious ITA National Indoor Championships during the fall. Officially No. 1 in the land, Sanchez holds the highest ranking of her career, and becomes the first USC women's player to rank No. 1 since Amanda Fink did so in 2006. During her winning surge to the top, Sanchez captured wins over four top-10 singles players and pieced together six consecutive straight-set victories. Now No. 2 in the latest ITA rankings, Sanchez currently boasts a 16-match win streak for a dominating 21-1 overall singles record. Her only loss to date came in a three-setter to her own teammate, Danielle Lao, in the ITA Southwest Regional Championship match.

    For her winning run through three dual matches in mid-February, Maria Sanchez picked up her fourth career honor as the Pac-10 Player of the Week on Feb. 14. She had a hand in at least one clinching victory in all three USC wins, coming through with the winner in the doubles point against San Diego State and Texas, and locking down the match-winning singles victories against South Florida and also against Texas. Sanchez pinned up straight-set wins in singles in all three matches - taking down both the No. 25 ranked player and the No. 8 player in the nation in the process. In doubles, she and teammate Kaitlyn Christian upset USF's No. 45-ranked team and also beat Texas' No. 87 pair.

    USC made it a championship sweep at the Freeman Memorial Championships in Las Vegas in January. Maria Sanchez dominated across the board with a winning run to the singles title as well as the doubles crown alongside freshman teammate Kaitlyn Christian. Then 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 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 the championship match to lock in on another title for the Trojans. For her powerful efforts in the first action of the spring, Sanchez grabbed the first Pac-10 Player of the Week award of the year on Jan. 18.

    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 entered 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.

    USC will welcome four new players to the courts next season, with the recent signings of a group of individuals who have each been ranked in the U.S. National top-10 in the past year. Joining the Women of Troy for the 2011-12 season are Gabrielle DeSimone, Giuliana Olmos, Sabrina Santamaria and Zoe Scandalis, USC head coach Richard Gallien announced. The class has been tabbed No. 1 in the nation according to Tennis Recruiting Network.