Women's Tennis
    No. 4 USC Women Play Final Regular Season Home Matches

    Ali Ramos and Danielle Lao are 16-4 together in doubles action.

    April 3, 2012

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    The No. 4 USC women continue defense of their home courts this week with two more Pac-12 tilts at Marks Stadium. The Women of Troy (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12) carry a seven-match win streak into this week's action against the Arizona schools. First, USC will play host to No. 28 Arizona (12-6, 2-3) in a 1:30 p.m. match on Friday (April 6). The Trojans will then wrap up their regular-season home stand with a 12 p.m. match against No. 29 Arizona State (10-5, 2-3) on Saturday (April 7).

    The latest round of 2012 Campbell/ITA national team rankings were unfurled today (April 3), with the USC women currently ranked No. 4 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 27), led by #15 Zoë Scandalis, who is followed by #22 Danielle Lao, #36 Sabrina Santamaria and #76 Kaitlyn Christian. In doubles, USC has Christian/Santamaria at #2, with Valeria Pulido and Scandalis ranked #52.

    USC recorded their third and fourth consecutive shutout wins last week in 7-0 decisions over Oregon and No. 48 Washington at Marks Stadium. First, the Women of Troy helped earn their head coach his 300th career win with a 7-0 sweep of Oregon. Richard Gallien already has well over 300 career wins overall, but the victory over the Ducks was a special one as it marked the 300th of his career at USC. #36 freshman Sabrina Santamaria provided the clincher with her 6-3, 6-1 win on court three, but the celebration didn't kick off until #22 junior Danielle Lao wrapped up her win at the No. 2 slot. It was straight set wins down the line for the Women of Troy, sparked by #76 sophomore Kaitlyn Christian's smooth 6-1, 6-1 win on court four. Freshman Gabriella DeSimone followed suit to set up Santamaria's winner on three. At the top spot, #15 freshman Zoë Scandalis got tangled up with Julia Metzger early in the second set, but stuck to her guns and wound up leaving Metzger out of reach as Scandalis won the last three games for a 6-2, 6-3 win that made it 5-0 Trojans. Meanwhile, on court six, senior Alison Ramos got up a break midway through her second set with Oregon's Lana Buttner and then held serve in a long game to create some extra space. Ramos would hold strong and close out a 6-3, 6-3 win from her No. 6 position, with Lao finishing off the action minutes later on court two. The next day, USC rolled out to its fourth straight shutout win with a rain-interrupted 7-0 sweep of No. 48 Washington. Rain stymied doubles play temporarily, halting action midway through the matches before clear skies returned to Troy. Warmed up by the sunlight, USC charged through three wins for the doubles advantage. With the rain blown out of the skies for singles, the Women of Troy got to work on piecing together yet another Pac-12 sweep. #22 Lao got the first lift of the stretch when Washington's Samantha Smith retired from their No. 2 singles match with Lao leading 5-0. USC's 2-0 lead then grew to a 3-0 advantage on #36 Santamaria's 6-1, 6-3 victory on court three. That one was quickly followed by the clincher from court four, where #76 Christian overwhelmed Julija Lukac 6-1, 6-1 to lock the Trojans in with the win. DeSimone won next to make it 5-0, and Valeria Pulido tacked up her seventh consecutive singles win soon after from her spot on court six. #15 Scandalis sealed the sweep from court one with one last straight-set win.

    The No. 28 Wildcats are 12-6 and 2-3 in Pac-12 play after falling 5-2 to Cal and 4-0 to Stanford last week. Arizona has #66 Lacey Smyth and #81 Natasha Marks ranked nationally in singles and #50 Marks/Smyth in doubles. USC is 45-15 all-time against the Wildcats after Arizona forfeited last year's Pac-10 match. USC won 7-0 in their 2010 clash with the Wildcats in Los Angeles.

    The No. 29 Sun Devils are 10-5 overall and 2-3 in Pac-12 play after taking 7-0 losses to Stanford and Cal last week. ASU has #9 Jacqueline Cako ranked nationally in singles and #56 Cako/Smith in doubles. USC is 47-22 all-time against the Sun Devils after a 6-1 win over ASU earlier this season during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Last year, USC lost 4-3 to ASU in Los Angeles and fell 6-1 in Pac-10 play in Tempe.

    USC head coach Richard Gallien collected his 300th overall career win last season, and now he has his 300th win with the Women of Troy in the books thanks to USC's 7-0 sweep of Oregon on March 30. 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 16-2 overall record and sitting as the No. 4 team in the nation, Gallien has upped his count to 301 wins as head coach at USC.

    20-WIN CLUB
    The Women of Troy have four players standing tall in the 20-win section of the singles world to date. At 29-7 overall, Zoë Scandalis is on the brink of busting out of the group, with her fellow freshman Sabrina Santamaria just a few steps back at 26-5. Sophomore Kaitlyn Christian and Danielle Lao both recently hit the 20-win mark, with Christian at 24-6 overall and Lao giving up the least ground with just four losses to 22 total wins to date. 23-9. And freshman Gabriella DeSimone is just a win away from cracking into the club with a 19-7 record to date. There's also one Trojan doubles tandem also now in the club, with the youthful Christian/Santamaria combo locked in at

    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 19-7 overall in singles and 14-3 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 16-2 in dual-match singles now with a 24-6 overall record. In doubles with Santamaria, she holds a 23-9 overall record with an 8-6 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 29-7 overall in singles play and 11-4 at the No. 1 singles spot.

    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 22-4 singles mark on the season with a near-perfect 13-1 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 26-5 overall singles record with a 15-1 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.