USC Women Packs Up For Pac-12 Trip To Utah And Colorado|
March 29, 2016
The Women of Troy have road work ahead as they stay in pursuit of keeping their perfect conference start intact. USC's Pac-12 path this week takes the Trojans (8-4, 3-0 Pac-12) to Utah and Colorado. Carrying a five-match win streak along on the trip, No. 27 USC will first visit the No. 74 Utes (10-8, 1-5) at 1:30 p.m. MT on Friday (April 1) in Salt Lake City. From there, USC travels to Boulder to take on the Buffs (6-11, 1-5) at 11 a.m. MT on Sunday (April 3).
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. In the latest round of national rankings (March 29), USC stands as the No. 27 team in the land. In the latest set of individual rankings (March 22), USC has five Trojans locked in with singles rankings. Senior Giuliana Olmos continues to lead the way, now ranked #22 in the nation. She's followed by two freshmen -- #99 Jessica Failla and #106 Rianna Valdes -- and two sophomores -- #108 Gabby Smith and #123 Madison Westby. In doubles, USC boasts the #8 pair in the land in Olmos and Smith. Smith also enjoys a #69 doubles ranking with Failla, while Zoë Katz and Westby now stand at #71.
The No. 74 Utes are 10-8 overall and 1-5 in Pac-12 play after losing to Stanford 7-0 and to Cal 7-0 last week. Utah has no players nationally ranked in singles or doubles. USC is 7-0 all-time against the Utes after the Trojans posted a 7-0 win in Los Angeles in the teams' Pac-12 meeting last year.
The Buffs are 6-11 overall and 1-5 in Pac-12 play after losing to Cal 7-0 and to Stanford 7-0 last week. Colorado has two players nationally ranked in singles: #74 Nuria Ormeno Ruiz and #107 Tina Bokhua. The Buffs have no ranked doubles teams. USC is 9-0 all-time against the Buffs after the Trojans posted a 7-0 win in Los Angeles in the teams' Pac-12 meeting last year.
USC stormed to a 7-0 sweep of visiting No. 35 Oregon last week at Marks Stadium, drumming up the Trojans' fifth straight win to stay perfect in Pac-12 play. USC whipped up a swift doubles point with speedy finishes on courts one and two. USC's #8 pairing of Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith silenced their Duck opponents with a 6-0 sweep of Oregon's #25 Johnson/Sangwan at the No. 1 spot. Soon after, the Trojans tacked a 1-0 lead on the board when #71 Zoë Katz and Madison Westby served up a 6-2 win over Oregon's Rose/Tobita on court two to push the teams on through to singles action. There, USC's #108 Gabby Smith stayed right on course. Just as she had done in doubles, Smith didn't give up a single game to her Oregon opponent. Smith's smooth 6-0, 6-0 win over Nia Rose made it a 2-0 Trojan advantage in the match. Right next door to Smith, fellow sophomore #123 Madison Westby was in a groove at the No. 2 spot. Westby pinned up a 6-1, 6-3 win over Oregon's #124 Alyssa Tobita. With a 3-0 lead on the board, USC was in position to finish off the Ducks. USC's #106 freshman Rianna Valdes answered the call from court six, topping Daniela Nasser 6-4, 6-1 to notch the clincher for the Trojan cause.
The match would carry on, with #99 freshman Jessica Failla hitting the finish line moments later with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Marlou Kluiving on court five. At the top spot, USC's #22 Giuliana Olmos was in a battle with Oregon's #70 Kennan Johnson. After Olmos dug in for the first set, Johnson answered back and took the second to bring up a 10-point tiebreaker to decide things. In the breaker, Olmos quickly surged into control and finished off the win as a 7-5, 3-6, 1-0 (10-3) victory to make it a 6-0 USC lead. The final match of the day was playing out on court three, where USC junior Zoë Katz had fought back from 2-5 down in the first to win it in a tiebreaker. Her second set against Oregon's Shweta Sangwan was just getting rolling as Olmos finished up her win on court one. Sangwan would pull out the second set to bring up one last 10-point tiebreaker to round out the day's action. In that final stretch, Katz gritted her teeth and dug out of another hole, down 0-3 to start before plugging away to a 10-7 win to claim the final point for the Trojans on her 7-6 (6), 5-7, 1-0 (10-7) decision over Sangwan at the No. 3 spot.
SOLID SENIOR STATUS
USC's lone senior this season is the talented top gun Giuliana Olmos, the Trojans' only ITA All-American on the roster and a true veteran for USC. Her list of accolades continues to grow. A 2014 Pac-12 Doubles Champion with then-senior Kaitlyn Christian, Olmos would also earn All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and reach the NCAA Singles and Doubles Rounds of 32 in her sophomore season. As a junior, Olmos won the ITA Southwest Regional Doubles Championship with partner Gabby Smith and went on to reach the Pac-12 singles semifinals, earned a place on the All-Pac-12 First Team and worked her way into the NCAA Singles Round of 32 as a 9-16 seed and to the NCAA Doubles Round of 16. Now a senior captain for the Women of Troy, Olmos continues to raise the bar as she's stepped into the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles slots this season. Olmos opened the 2015-16 season with her highest career singles ranking at #10 in the land. Her highest career doubles rank was #4 in February 2014 alongside Zoë Scandalis.
Senior Giuliana Olmos and junior Zoë Katz are the veterans on the Trojan roster this season, with three sophomores and two freshmen joining them for the bulk of the playing time in 2016. Sophomores Gabby Smith, Madison Westby and Meredith Xepoleas got a lion's share of experience as freshmen as they helped anchor USC's run to a No. 1 ranking and a run to the NCAA Semifinals in 2015. This year, that trio of sophomores brings back their savvy in helping USC's newcomers settle into the lineup. Freshmen Jessica Failla and Rianna Valdes are key components in the USC ladder, and both are ranked national singles rankings.
BY THE NUMBERS
USC's winningest Trojan in the singles realm this season so far is freshman Jessica Failla, who has claimed a team-best 16 singles wins to date. That has her just a step ahead of junior Zoë Katz' 15 wins, while a pair of Trojans weigh in with 14 in the win column -- senior Giuliana Olmos and sophomore Gabby Smith. In doubles, USC's winningest pair is the powerful #8-ranked Olmos and Smith, who have tacked up 13 wins together so far this season.
USC had two Pac-12 road matches canceled by rain in March. USC's March 11 matchup at No. 23 Stanford was the first to be rained out. On March 12, USC was in Berkeley to take on top-ranked California, but rain caused that match to be postponed until the next day. March 13 wasn't much better, as the teams barely got started in doubles when rain halted the match. Both matches will be played as necessary in April in conjunction with the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, Calif.
ROSE CUP TO THE RESCUE!
Four years ago, USC women's tennis decided it wanted to make a difference in the world. When then-junior Kaitlyn Christian's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, now-senior Giuliana Olmos was moved to find a way to help. Olmos and her teammates started the Rose Cup -- named for Kaitlyn's mother -- to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Every fall since the event's inception in 2012, USC student-athletes combine forces on the courts at Marks Stadium in support for the cause. Rose has since beaten her disease, and this season the Trojans dedicated their efforts in honor of Madison Westby's aunt Pam, who is currently in her own fight with breast cancer. At the fourth annual edition of the Rose Cup -- held in November 2015 -- the $5,000 raised through the tournament, t-shirts sold and other donations went directly to Dr. Julie Lang's research lab at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
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 moves back into a revamped and renovated home that is up-to-date and in line with the impressive accomplishments of both programs. The courts were open for action throughout construction, and a ribbon-cutting and dedication for the new facility was held on Feb. 16 to 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 welcomes 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 supports direct collaboration between coaches, staff and athletes on a daily basis. The teams also utilize and enjoy brand-new suites with lockers, showers, team meeting rooms and lounges. Both teams 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 have been added and a new elevator to the seating area has been 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.
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.