Women's Tennis
    No. 2 USC Women Can Cap Perfect Pac-12 Season With Win Over UCLA

    The Trojans battle the Bruins at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. See you there!
    April 14, 2015

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    THE LAST MEETING
    USC3
    UCLA4
    March 4, 2015
    Westwood, Calif.
    UCLA Delivers a 4-3 Upset to the Trojans
    On Wednesday, March 4, the No. 3 USC women's tennis team traveled across town to Westwood, Calif. to face No. 11 UCLA. The Bruins upset the Trojans 4-3 in a thrilling match, which lasted almost five hours. The Women of Troy entered the match coming off a six-match winning streak. After today's loss, USC is currently 10-2 overall.

    THIS WEEK
    The No. 2 USC women's tennis team has a great chance to wrap up the regular season with a bang. The Women of Troy carry a 10-match win streak and a perfect Pac-12 record into this week's rivalry clash against UCLA. USC aims to avenge an earlier loss to the Bruins in order to sew up an undefeated Pac-12 finish and stand alone as the conference champion. The crosstown rivalry between No. 2 USC (20-2, 9-0 Pac-12) and No. 5 UCLA (18-3, 8-1) is set to start at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday (April 16) on the Trojans' home courts at Marks Stadium. Singles play will begin at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks with Brian Webber and Amy Jensen on the call.

    ITA RANKINGS UPDATES
    The Women of Troy opened 2015 ranked No. 14 in the nation in the opening set of team rankings. On March 24, USC catapulted from its No. 7 spot to stand as the nation's No. 1 team, where it remained for three weeks until this latest round of rankings (released April 14) saw USC move to No. 2. The last time the Women of Troy had been ranked as the top team in the land was back in 2003. USC's previous best ranking this season had been at No. 3 on March 3. Individually, a full set of six Trojans continue to stand strong in the latest set of individual rankings (released April 14). Still in the top-20 for the second time in her career, junior Giuliana Olmos leads the way at #13, just two spots off her career-best ranking. Below her are five more Trojans. Senior All-American Sabrina Santamaria now ranks #19 in the nation as she continues her comeback path since the former #1 was sidelined by a season-ending injury last year. Fellow senior All-American Zoë Scandalis is now at #61, with three USC freshmen rounding out the ranked crew: #75 Gabby Smith, #78 Madison Westbyand #79 Meredith Xepoleas. In doubles, USC has Olmos/Scandalis leading the pack at #17, followed closely by #23 Zoë Katz and Santamaria. Katz also remains ranked alongside teammate Gabriella DeSimone, now at #34.

    SCOUTING UCLA
    The No. 5 Bruins are 18-3 overall and 8-1 in Pac-12 play after beating Colorado Utah both 7-0 last week. UCLA has six players nationally ranked in singles: #1 Robin Anderson, #17 Chanelle Van Nguyen, #28 Kyle McPhillips, #49 Jennifer Brady, #64 Catherine Harrison and #91 Kaitlin Ray. In doubles, UCLA has three ranked pairs: #3 Harrison/McPhillips, #15 Anderson/Brady and #31 Anderson/Van Nguyen. USC is 48-43 all-time against UCLA after taking a 4-3 loss to the Bruins earlier this season in Westwood. Last year, UCLA claimed three wins over the Trojans by scores of 4-0, 5-2 and 4-1. USC last beat the Bruins with a 6-1 victory on April 18, 2013 at Marks Stadium to finish off an undefeated Pac-12 season for the Women of Troy.

    LAST WEEK
    USC served up back-to-back shutout wins to stay perfect in Pac-12 play last week, taking down Utah and Colorado with 7-0 decisions at Marks Stadium. Against the Utes, the Trojans ripped their way through to the early advantage with a quick trip through doubles. At the top spot, USC's #24 Giuliana Olmos and Zoë Scandalis issued a prompt 8-2 win over Utah's top guns. Soon after, USC's freshman duo of Gabby Smith and Madison Westby zipped through to an 8-4 win on court two, and the doubles point was securely in Trojan hands, leaving court three's action suspended. USC's singles domination was kickstarted by #75 freshman Meredith Xepoleas, whose work on court five drummed up a 6-1, 6-2 victory to pin up a 2-0 lead for the Trojans. Up at the top spot, USC's #22 Sabrina Santamaria was a force to reckon with as well. She tore through to a 6-3, 6-2 win, and the Trojans were poised for victory, up 3-0 on the Utes. In a mad scramble for the clincher, at one point there were three different Women of Troy holding match point at the same time. It would be #72 Smith who closed out first, though, as she finished off a 6-0, 6-4 win on court four to notch a 4-0 advantage for the Trojans. Next, #13 Olmos got her feet back under her to wrap up a 7-5, 6-1 win over Sarah Richter at the No. 2 spot, and then Gabriella DeSimone righted the ship on court six with a 6-2, 6-4 decision that had the Trojans ahead 6-0. The remaining action took place on court three, where USC's #58 Scandalis was steadily creating more distance between herself and Jena Cheng. Scandalis would close down the day's event with a 6-3, 6-4 win, and USC's 7-0 sweep was in the books. The next day, USC rang up a 10th consecutive victory with a 7-0 win over visiting Colorado. After sewing up the doubles point, USC's freshmen and seniors continued to trade wins during singles play to build up the victory for the Trojans. USC was in high gear for doubles play. A fresh freshman pairing of Westby/Xepoleas proved potent, as the duo whipped up an 8-0 shutout on court three. Meanwhile, on court two, a senior pairing also packed some serious punch. DeSimone/Santamaria stamped out an 8-1 win, and USC was on to singles play with a 1-0 lead tucked in its cap. Hyped up by the swift scurry through doubles play, senior DeSimone put on the afterburners for singles action. She'd zip through to a clean sweep on court six, dishing out a 6-0, 6-0 decision to take the Trojans ahead 2-0. With a senior victory in the books, it was time for a freshman to respond next. Stepping up to the plate was freshman Westby, who hammered out a 6-2, 6-2 win on court four to set the table for the clincher. Senior Scandalis was there to serve as the cleanup crew. She'd blast a 6-1, 6-2 win to secure victory for the Trojans, up 4-0 on the Buffs with that one. Following the trend, freshman Xepoleas stayed right in stride with the theme of the day. She'd come through with a decisive 6-0, 6-2 win at the No. 5 spot to register a 5-0 lead for the Women of Troy. That left two Trojans still duking it out in hard-fought battles on the top-two courts. Senior Santamaria fought back after dropping the first set to push into a 10-point tiebreaker on court one. Meanwhile, junior Olmos was working to close out her No. 2 match in straight sets. Olmos would buck the trend by breaking through with the next win for the Trojans. After snagging the first set in a tiebreaker, Olmos got one last break and then held serve in the second to win 7-6 (5), 6-2 and make it a 6-0 USC advantage. Moments later, senior Santamaria -- who was on the warpath in her 10-point tiebreaker to decide things -- wrapped her comeback effort with a 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (10-2) finish to round out a successful day's work by the Women of Troy.

    BY THE NUMBERS
    There's only one member of the 30-win club so far among the Women of Troy, with junior Giuliana Olmos holding court with a team-best 32 singles wins to date. The 20-win crew, however, is now four Trojans strong. Freshman Gabby Smith leads that pack with 25 singles wins, while senior Zoë Scandalis and freshman Meredith Xepoleas each hold 23 wins, and freshman Madison Westby is next in line at 21 wins.

    SABS FIGHTS BACK
    After seeing her junior season come to a tragically early close with a torn ACL suffered in early March 2014, senior Sabrina Santamaria is finding her winning touch. In her first competition of the year, she stepped into the No. 6 singles slot and surrendered only a single game to her LMU opponent to start on her comeback path. The former top-ranked singles player, four-time ITA All-American, 2013 NCAA Doubles Champion and 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year opened the spring with eight straight singles wins. She'd take her first loss to then-#4 Maegan Manassee of Cal, but rebounded the very next day with an impressive comeback upset win over then-#3 Carol Zhao of Stanford. Santamaria returned to the national rankings for the first time this year on March 10, listed then at #36 in the land in singles. Now, the senior ranks #19 and holds a 13-2 overall record in singles to date. She's also back in the doubles rankings, now at #23 alongside partner Zoë Katz.

    FRESHMAN FURY
    USC boasts a trio of freshmen this season, and the three-pack has certainly helped to stack the Trojan roster with success. #65 Gabby Smith, #73 Madison Westby and #64 Meredith Xepoleas are all locked into the national rankings in singles. Smith has grabbed the most wins so far, boasting a 25-10 overall record with a perfect 8-0 mark in Pac-12 matches. Xepoleas and Westby aren't far behind, holding 23 and 21 respective singles wins apiece. In all, the Trojan freshmen are 69-25 overall in singles play to date and together they've clinched 11 matches from their singles spots this season. In doubles, Smith and Westby have paired up to great success. They're on an eight-match win streak and hold a 14-6 overall record together. All three Trojan newcomers have won Pac-12 Player of the Week recognition for their respective heroics during the year.

    HEROIC OLMOS
    USC junior Giuliana Olmos pinned up two powerful performances in USC's victorious road trip through the Bay Area, and was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Feb. 23. It's the second such selection for Olmos, who was the third Trojan to earn the honor this season. Olmos all but clinched her award when she upset the nation's top-ranked singles player in a three-set comeback effort that clinched a 4-3 win for No. 11 USC over No. 5 California in Berkeley. Olmos' 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Cal's #1 Maegan Manasse secured a huge comeback win for the Trojans. The very next day, then-#22 Olmos pinned up a 6-0, 6-4 win to help lift USC into position for another comeback victory, taking the Trojans to a 2-1 lead on the Gaels en route to a final 5-2 victory. Olmos now holds a 32-10 overall singles record in her junior season, standing as the team's winningest singles player to date. She's also up to #13 in the nation in singles.

    WESTBY WINS BIG
    Madison Westby had the heroic clincher for the USC women in a 4-3 upset of No. 11 Vanderbilt to help secure her with honors as the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Feb. 17. The freshman pulled out a three-set comeback win over #68 Marie Casares to pull off the win there. She also had a doubles win in that one, helping USC to claim the first point of the match with an 8-6 win to secure that point. The very next day, Westby won in doubles again and then added the first singles win of an eventual 7-0 win over No. 25 Texas, beating Lana Groenvynck 6-0, 6-2. Now ranked #78 in the land, the freshman is now 21-7 overall in singles with a 14-4 mark in dual matches.

    MEREDITH MAKES HER MARK
    Freshman Meredith Xepoleas secured her first career Pac-12 Player of the Week award on March 23 after standing tall for the Women of Troy in huge Pac-12 wins over Cal and Stanford. Xepoleas came up big for the Women of Troy in the two top-10 wins to stay perfect in Pac-12 play. When USC's match against No. 3 California went down to the wire, all the pressure heaped on the freshman's shoulders. #83 Xepoleas was up to the challenge, taking down her Cal opponent Lynn Chi - who was ranked almost 50 places higher than her - with a 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 victory that clinched a huge upset win for No. 7 USC. The next day, Xepoleas came through again, this time in a smoother victory as she served up a 6-0, 6-1 win over Stanford's Lindsey Kostas to put USC up 3-0 against No. 10 Stanford en route to the Trojans' 6-1 victory over the Cardinal. Currently ranked #79 in the nation, Xepoleas has now won a team-best 11 straight singles matches to stand at 23-8 overall on the year.

    SCANDALIS SETS RECORD
    After a clutch performance at Pepperdine, Zoë Scandalis was been selected as the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Feb. 2. Now with six career selections as Pac-12 Player of the Week, she sets the conference record for most wins by a women's tennis player. Scandalis was the hero of the day in a true road battle. After combining forces with teammate Giuliana Olmos for a 6-4 doubles win that secured a 1-0 lead for the Trojans, Scandalis came through in the clutch with the clincher in singles. USC had trailed the host Waves 2-3 in the match before it locked up a 3-3 and all eyes turned to Scandalis' No. 2 singles match. Scandalis would fight off three match points - which would have handed the Trojans the team loss - and wound up digging out of a 2-5 hole to force a tiebreaker. In the breaker, Scandalis fought through to victory and won it all for her team in posting a 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (4) win over Pepperdine's Laura Gulbe. Currently ranked #61 in the nation, Scandalis now holds a 23-11 overall singles record and is 11-6 in dual matches.

    BREAKING GROUND ON NEW DIGS
    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 will see its home revamped and renovated, bringing the venue up to date and in line with the impressive accomplishments of both programs. A ceremony to kickstart the renovation of Marks Stadium, which includes breaking ground on the Buntmann Family Tennis Center, was held on Feb. 24. Goals for this renovation are to elevate Marks Tennis Stadium to be on par with the best facilities in the country by creating an inviting, elegant, bright and safe training and competition environment. The Buntmann Family Tennis Center entrance and lobby will welcome 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 will support direct collaboration between coaches, staff and athletes on a daily basis. The teams will be able to utilize and enjoy brand-new suites with lockers, showers, team meeting rooms and lounges. Both teams will 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 will be added, a new elevator to the seating area will be 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 renovation is expected to be complete for Spring 2016.

    FALL FLASHBACK
    The USC women are coming off a strong fall campaign in which the Women of Troy swept the titles at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships, with Zoë Scandalis winning the singles crown and Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith combining forces for the doubles championship. Olmos played at the ITA National Indoors, reached the ITA Southwest Regional semifinals and won the Jack Kramer Club singles title in the fall. Also in the fall, Scandalis competed at the ITA National Indoor Championships and reached the Round of 16 at the ITA/Riviera All-American. In doubles, Olmos and Scandalis reached the semifinals of the ITA/Riviera All-American in the fall. Olmos also paired up powerfully with freshman Smith to win the ITA Southwest Regional and Jack Kramer Club championships.

    2015 TROJANS AT A GLANCE
    The USC women are coming off a strong fall campaign in which the Women of Troy swept the titles at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships, with Zoë Scandalis winning the singles crown and Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith combining forces for the doubles championship. Looking to build on last year's 18-8 finish and 7-3 mark in Pac-12 play, the USC women are looking to set their path toward what would be a 24th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2015. Last year, USC reached the NCAA Round of 16. The Trojans were without the services of former singles #1 and NCAA Doubles Champion Sabrina Santamaria for the majority of 2014 after the junior was sidelined by a knee injury. Now back in action for 2015, she and fellow senior Zoë Scandalis are USC's two ITA All-Americans on the roster. Scandalis reached the Pac-12 singles title match last year, while Giuliana Olmos won the Pac-12 doubles championship alongside now-graduated Kaitlyn Christian in 2014. •