Women's Tennis
    USC Women Bring Syracuse, ASU To Marks Stadium

    March 14, 2011

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    The No. 16 USC women stay home for two more matches this week. The Women of Troy (10-2, 1-0 Pac-10) first play host to Syracuse (10-2) for a 12 p.m. match on Tuesday (March 15) before taking on No. 31 Arizona State in the teams' nonconference clash at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday (March 16) at Marks Stadium.

    The latest 2011 Campbell/ITA national team rankings were released March 8, with the Women of Troy ranked No. 16 in the nation. Individual rankings 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 next round of national rankings will be released March 15. CLICK HERE for rankings updates.

    The Orange enter the week with a 10-2 overall record after a 5-2 win over Cornell last week for their third straight victory. Syracuse has no players ranked in the March 1 national rankings. This will be USC's first-ever meeting against Syracuse.

    The Sun Devils enter the week ranked No. 31 with a 9-3 overall record after falling 5-2 to No. 5 Duke and then upsetting No. 7 Cal 4-3 last week. In the March 1 national rankings, ASU had four players ranked in singles (#17 Kelcy McKenna, #30 Jacqueline Cako, #108 Hannah James and #117 Michelle Brycki) and two ranked doubles teams (#39 Hein/McKenna and #46 Brown/Simmons). USC is 43-20 all-time against the Sun Devils after a split last season, losing 4-3 in Tempe and winning 5-2 at Marks Stadium in their Pac-10 match.

    USC got back on a winning run last week with a 6-1 home win over No. 59 Fresno State and a 5-2 road victory over No. 30 Pepperdine. Maria Sanchez extended her singles win streak out to 20 straight with two more victories at the No. 1 position. Her fellow senior Cristala Andrews was similarly successful, stepping into the doubles lineup with Alison Ramos for a pair of wins there while also picking up wins at the No. 5 singles position for the Trojans. Kaitlyn Christian also snagged two singles wins to go with a winning run with Sanchez in doubles to make it 14 consecutive victories for the pair. And Danielle Lao also got in the books with back-to-back singles wins for the Trojans, who improved to 10-2 overall with last week's wins.

    USC took an important first step in Pac-10 action with a 6-1 win over visiting No. 20 Washington. The Women of Troy got an impressive doubles sweep before gutting out singles play for a 6-1 win over the Huskies. Doubles play was highlighted by a comeback surge from USC's #20 Christian/Sanchez for an 8-7 (3) upset of Washington's #6 Chan/Dy. Singles play was a similarly competitive affair as the Huskies claimed the first set on four different courts to put the Trojans in a comeback situation. Cristala Andrews and Kaitlyn Christian, however, had set themselves up well with solid first set victories, winning in straight sets to help get USC in position for the 6-1 win.

    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. While at No. 1 in the land, Sanchez held 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 20-match win streak for a dominating 25-1 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. Sanchez and Christian are now No. 20 in the nation and hold a 14-match winning streak.

    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.