Women's Tennis
    No. 4 USC Women Open Pac-12 Play On Saturday

    Alison Ramos and the Trojans aim for their 11th win of the year on Saturday.

    March 7, 2012

    USC Women's Tennis ReleaseGet Acrobat Reader

    With a 10-2 start to the 2012 season, the No. 4 USC women's tennis team has matched its best opening since 2006. This week, the Trojans look to take a winning start to conference action as well. On Saturday (March 10), No. 2 USC will host Washington State (9-2) at 10:30 a.m. at Marks Stadium for their Pac-12 kick-off.

    The latest round of 2012 Campbell/ITA national team rankings were unfurled March 6, with the USC women sitting at No. 4 in the land after last week's No. 2 ranking -- their highest ranking since 2006. USC first cracked the top-10 this year on Feb. 16. Four Women of Troy are holding strong in the top-100 individual rankings (released Feb. 28), led by #13 Zoë Scandalis. Junior Danielle Lao is next at #16, followed by #26 Sabrina Santamaria and #84 Kaitlyn Christian. In doubles, USC has Christian/Santamaria at #3, with Valeria Pulido and Scandalis ranked #39.

    USC's competition last week opened up with a titanic matchup between the nation's top two teams as the No. 2 Trojans played host to No. 1 UCLA. It was the second face-off of the year between the two rivals, and USC pushed the favored Bruins to the limit in this one before UCLA managed to pull out the 4-3 decision. USC would rebound two days later with a 6-1 win over No. 70 San Diego to register its 10th victory of the year. Against the Bruins, with the match tied at 3-3, all eyes turned to court five, where a battle between Trojan freshman Gabriella DeSimone and Bruin freshman Chanelle Van Nguyen decided the winner. DeSimone took the first set, 6-4, but an early break in the second set cost her momentum as Van Nguyen evened the match with a 6-2 second set win. DeSimone saved one match point in the third set, but Van Nguyen clinched the win on her second chance. UCLA had opened the match by claiming the doubles point before USC gathered up singles wins from Kaitlyn Christian, Sabrina Santamaria and Danielle Lao to work it into a 3-3 tie. Against San Diego two days later, USC snagged the doubles point and got wins down the line in singles aside from the No. 3 spot, where Santamaria had to retire from her match due to injury. Lao was the big winner for the Trojans on the weekend, pulling in two singles and two doubles wins to keep her win streak alive. Now 19-3 overall in singles, Lao has won 14 straight singles matches.

    The unranked Cougars are 9-2 overall after beating BYU 7-0 last week. WSU's only losses this year have been to Sacramento State and Nebraska. The Cougars have #72 Liudmila Vasilieva ranked nationally in singles. USC is 17-0 all-time against WSU after beating the Cougars 6-1 last year in Pullman, Wash.

    Freshman Gabriella DeSimone secured her first career Pac-12 Player of the Week award after served up two match-clinching singles wins last week, including a winner in the Trojans' upset victory over No. 5 California to snap a five-match losing skid for USC against the Bears. DeSimone opened the week with an impressive three-set comeback win that clinched an eventual 7-0 USC win over UC Santa Barbara. DeSimone bounced back from a first-set loss to Paola Cos with a dominating effort in the next two sets, including a shutout in the third for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory. Two days later, DeSimone held strong against her ranked Cal opponent, #103 Cecilia Estlander, to register another big clincher in a 7-5, 6-2 win that put the Trojans ahead 4-2 in the match. USC's eventual 4-3 decision over the Bears was the second upset win over a top-10 team for the Trojans this season. The winning week improved the No. 7 USC women to 9-1 overall. DeSimone is now 14-6 overall in singles and 9-2 in dual match play.

    The USC women reached the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships for the first time since 2003 and third time overall with an impressive run at the action out in Charlottesville, Va. To open, USC gutted out its first win over a top-10 team since 2009 with a 4-2 comeback win over No. 8 North Carolina in the first round. After UNC sneaked away with the doubles point, USC buckled in for the long haul in singles, claiming three straight-set victories before junior Danielle Lao pinned up the heroic clincher with a three-setter from court two. In the quarterfinals, USC locked in on its best start since 1999 in claiming its seventh straight win of 2012 with a 4-1 comeback win over No. 17 Tennessee. The Vols were riding an upset of No. 5 Baylor from the previous day on the way into the quarterfinal clash with the Trojans, but again USC was undeterred when the doubles point slipped away from its grasp. Instead, USC answered the call and flexed its singles muscle with four straight-set wins to plow to a 4-1 win over the Vols, clinched this time by Gabriella DeSimone. In the semis, USC went up against No. 4-ranked rival UCLA and this time was unable to fight back from falling in the double point, as the Bruins claimed a 4-0 win over the Trojans on their way to winning it all with a sweep up top-seeded Duke in the title match.

    For her efforts on both the singles and doubles courts in two Trojan shutout wins, Kaitlyn Christian earned her first career selection as Pac-12 Player of the Week on Feb. 6. Christian didn't lose a single set in singles that week, and also won out in doubles as USC topped #34 Saint Mary's and #27 Pepperdine with shutouts. Her singles wins from her No. 4 position were both dominating. #99 Christian beat Anna Chkhikvishili 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday, then blasted Arianna Colffer 6-1, 6-2 on Saturday. Teamed up in doubles with Sabrina Santamaria at the No. 1 position, the #3 pair served up 8-4 wins in both matches. Christian is currently 11-1 in dual-match singles now with a 19-5 overall record. In doubles with Santamaria, she holds a 19-8 overall record with a 4-5 dual-match record at the No. 1 position.

    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 Player of the Week on Jan. 28 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 is now currently 24-6 overall in singles play.

    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 gave #3 Christian/Santamaria their second tournament title together, going along with the 2011 National Indoor Championship claimed in the fall.

    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 then-#42-ranked Lao. She's now up to #16 in the land, holding a 19-3 singles mark on the season with a perfect 10-0 stand in dual matches. Lao has won 14 straight singles matches.

    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. Santamaria currently holds a 21-5 overall singles record with a 10-1 mark in dual matches.

    USC posted 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.