Women's Tennis
    No. 3 USC Women Pack Up For Mountain Matches

    Valeria Pulido and Zoë Scandalis are 12-4 in doubles together this season.

    March 20, 2012

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    The No. 3 USC women add two new states to their list this week as the Women of Troy get ready for their first conference matches against Utah and Colorado. USC (12-2, 1-0 Pac-12) will head to the mountains for just their third match in program history against the Utes and first-ever trip to Salt Lake City in a 1 p.m. MT match vs. No. 35 Utah (8-5, 0-2) on Friday (March 23). Two days later, the Trojans have another Pac-12 clash in a whole new state. USC has its first mile-high encounter with Colorado (7-6, 0-2) at 11:30 a.m. MT on Sunday (March 25) in Boulder.

    The latest round of 2012 Campbell/ITA national team rankings were unfurled today (March 20), with the USC women up a notch to now rank No. 3 in the land. From Feb. 28 to March 5, USC sat at No. 2 in the nation to carry 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 March 13), led by #18 Danielle Lao followed by #21 Zoë Scandalis, #31 Sabrina Santamaria and #64 Kaitlyn Christian. In doubles, USC has Christian/Santamaria at #4, with Valeria Pulido and Scandalis ranked #49.

    USC toppled another top-10 team last week with a 4-3 road win over No. 8 Texas. Up against a top-10 team for the fifth time this year, the Women of Troy made a winning run to victory, including three straight-set singles wins, to cap off today's win. Zoë Scandalis served up the clinching heroics from her No. 1 singles spot to help bulk USC's record to 12-2 overall. The Trojans started their day with a doubles sweep to build momentum going into singles play. With #49 Pulido/Scandalis starting the trend with an 8-5 win, #4 Christian/Santamaria followed suit with an 8-6 decision, while Lao/Ramos wrapped things up on an 8-2 win. Boosted by that dominant performance on the doubles courts, USC rattled off three straight-set wins in singles to secure an early win for the Trojans. Valeria Pulido would roll at the No. 6 spot with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Elizabeth Bagley to make it 2-0 and record her fifth straight singles win at the No. 6 position. Soon after, #31 Sabrina Santamaria delivered a decisive 6-2, 6-2 win over #122 Noel Scott on court three. Her fellow freshman on court one, #21 Scandalis, came through in the clutch with a 6-4, 6-3 win over #24 Aerial Ellis, and the Trojans were in the books with the win.Meanwhile, there were three other matches still going strong -- all to be decided in third sets. Kaitlyn Christian wound up retiring from her No. 4 match with Cierra Gaytan-Leach after trading 6-3 wins in the first two sets and snagged at a 1-1 draw in third. That would give Texas its first point of the day, albeit too late to make a bid for a win. On court five, Longhorn Lina Padegimaite pushed past USC's Gabriella DeSimone 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 to make it 4-2, leaving court two as the only action going. There, #75 Krista Damico was able to hand USC's #18 Danielle Lao her first dual-match loss of the year with an 0-6, 6-3, 6-4 comeback that snapped a 15-match singles win streak held by Lao and finished out the day as an 4-3 Trojan win.

    The No. 35 Utes are 8-5 overall after a 5-2 win over BYU last week and are 0-2 in Pac-12 play with a 7-0 loss to Stanford and a 6-1 loss to Cal in their opening conference competition. Utah has #63 Anastasia Putilina ranked nationally in singles and no ranked doubles teams. USC is 2-0 all-time against Utah, with both wins coming in Los Angeles. The Trojans beat Utah 7-2 in 1998 and 5-4 in their first meeting in 1990.

    The Buffaloes are 7-6 overall after a 7-0 win over Metro State last week and are 0-2 in Pac-12 play with 7-0 losses to Stanford and Cal in their opening conference competition. Colorado has no one ranked nationally in singles or doubles. USC is 4-0 all-time against Colorado, but has not faced the Buffs since a 7-2 win in 1999. This will be USC's first-ever competition against the Buffs in Boulder.

    USC head coach Richard Gallien collected his 300th career win last season, but he's now just moments away from also notching win No. 300 at USC. Gallien entered the 2012 campaign with USC record of 285-125 (not including matches later vacated per NCAA penalty issued in 2009 due to ineligible player). Now with his Women of Troy gripping a 12-2 overall record and sitting as the No. 3 team in the nation, Gallien is three wins away from hitting the 300-win mark at Troy. Stay tuned!

    20-WIN CLUB
    The Women of Troy have four players standing tall in the 20-win section of the singles world to date, led by 25-7 Zoë Scandalis and her fellow freshman Sabrina Santamaria, who is up to 22-5 overall. Sophomore Kaitlyn Christian and Danielle Lao both recently hit the 20-win mark, with Christian at 20-6 overall and Lao giving up the least ground with just four losses to 20 total wins to date. There's also one Trojan doubles tandem also now in the club, with the youthful Christian/Santamaria combo locked in at 20-8.

    Freshman Gabriella DeSimone secured her first career Pac-12 Player of the Week award on Feb. 27 after serving up two match-clinching singles wins, 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 -- USC's best start to a season since 2006. DeSimone is now 15-7 overall in singles and 10-3 in dual match play.

    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 12-2 in dual-match singles now with a 20-6 overall record. In doubles with Santamaria, she holds a 20-8 overall record with a 5-5 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 25-7 overall in singles 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.

    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 20-4 singles mark on the season with a near-perfect 11-1 stand in dual matches.

    USC's doubles duo of Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria topped off their historic run at the ITA National Indoor Championships by etching their names as champions with a comeback win in the doubles title match. The two Women of Troy were the first to reach a doubles final, and now stand as the first USC doubles team -- female or male -- to win the doubles crown at the tourney. Kelly Henry and Sue Pendo were the only other USC women's doubles team to reach the final back in 1984. The Trojans' resurgence to the title match saw sophomore Christian and freshman Santamaria serve upsets of the No. 2, No. 4 and finally the No. 3 seeded teams in the draw. In the championship clash with No. 3 seeded Frilling/Mathews of Notre Dame, the Women of Troy fell behind in the first set before rallying back to take the match and the title with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Nov. 6.

    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 22-5 overall singles record with an 11-1 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.