Women's Tennis
    Women of Troy Set Sights On Pac-12 Singles & Doubles Titles

    Pac-12 singles play starts Thursday and doubles kicks off Friday in Ojai.

    April 25, 2012

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    With a share of the Pac-12 Team Championship all wrapped up for the Women of Troy after a 9-1 run through conference play, the No. 4 USC women (20-3 overall) shift gears into individual action this week. The Trojans will vie for Pac-12 singles and doubles titles in Ojai, Calif., at the 2012 Pac-12 Championships running Thursday through Sunday (April 26-29).


    The latest round of 2012 Campbell/ITA national team rankings were unfurled on April 24, 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, and has been a mainstay in that group ever since. Four Women of Troy are holding strong in the top-100 individual rankings (released April 24), led by #13 Zoë Scandalis, who is followed by #17 Danielle Lao, #28 Sabrina Santamaria and #72 Kaitlyn Christian. In doubles, USC has Christian/Santamaria at #4, with Valeria Pulido and Scandalis ranked #54.

    PAC-12 PLAN
    There will be a 32-player women's singles draw and a 16-team women's doubles draw at the annual Pac-12 Tennis Tournament in Ojai, Calif. Matches begin on Thursday (April 26) morning. All Pac-12 Tournament women's matches except the finals will be played at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club. The Pac-12 singles championship match is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in Libbey Park, and the doubles final will follow. The Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament is a 112-year tradition, dating back to 1887. The four-day tennis extravaganza includes competition for juniors, non-Pac-12 collegiate players, and an open event. The Pac-12 has had a presence at the event since 1954. Last year, USC had a presence in both Pac-10 title matches. Senior Maria Sanchez fell to Stanford's Kristie Ahn in the singles final, and Sanchez and then-freshman Kaitlyn Christian paired up in the doubles title match and lost in a three-setter to top-ranked Andersson/Juricova of Cal. The last conference crowns taken by Trojans were in 2009, when Amanda Fink won the singles title and also won doubles with Gabriela Niculescu for the second straight year. For the 2012 edition, USC has a full load of Trojans slated for competition in Ojai. On the championship side, USC has its four ranked players -- #13 Zoe Scandalis, #17 Danielle Lao, #28 Sabrina Santamaria and #72 Kaitlyn Christian -- lined up in the singles draw. In doubles, three Trojan pairings will play in the Pac-12 championship draw: #4 Christian/Santamaria, #54 Pulido/Scandalis and Lao/Ramos. On the invitational singles side, USC has Gabriella DeSimone, Valeria Pulido and Alison Ramos reporting for duty in that draw.

    Round of 32 -- Thursday, April 26
    [6] #13 Zoë Scandalis (USC) vs. Samantha Smith (WASH) -- 8 a.m.
    #72 Kaitlyn Christian (USC) vs. Patricia Skowronski (ORE) -- 9:30 a.m.
    [8] #28 Sabrina Santamaria (USC) vs. Sarah Pham (UTAH) -- 11 a.m.
    [7] #17 Danielle Lao (USC) vs. Julyette Steur (COLO) -- 12:30 p.m.

    Round of 32 -- Thursday, April 26
    Alison Ramos (USC) vs. Amelia Herring (STAN) -- 8 a.m.
    [8] Valeria Pulido (USC) vs. Stephany Chang (CAL) -- 9:30 a.m.
    Gabriella DeSimone (USC) vs. [2] Courtney Dolehide (UCLA) -- 11 a.m.

    Round of 16 - Friday, April 27
    [3] #4 Christian/Santamaria (USC) vs. Anderson/van Nguyen (UCLA) -- 9 a.m.
    #54 Pulido/Scandalis (USC) vs. Nemcevic/Shimizu (WASH) -- 9 a.m.
    Lao/Ramos (USC) vs. #34 Marks/Smyth (ARIZ) -- 10 a.m.

    The USC women knocked off the nation's top team last week, and to make the win ever sweeter, that team happened to be crosstown rival UCLA. The Trojans and the top-ranked Bruins were tangling for the third time this season in the matchup at UCLA's Los Angeles Tennis Center, but it was USC that came out on top with the upset win to snap a stretch of six straight losses to the rival Bruins. USC's 6-1 win over No. 1 UCLA also secured a share of the Pac-12 Championship for the Women of Troy. USC last claimed a conference title in 2009 -- also the last time the Trojans had beaten the Bruins. The biggest boost toward victory today came early when the Women of Troy won the doubles point. The Bruins had been able to grab the early advantage in the previous two meetings between USC and UCLA this season, but today the Trojans flexed back. Danielle Lao and Alison Ramos pushed ahead first, claiming an 8-6 win over Jones/Seguso on court three. UCLA put the pressure on court one when its #9-ranked Dolehide/Montez topped USC's #49 Valeria Pulido / Zoe Scandalis 8-6 at the No. 2 spot, but USC's #7 Kaitlyn Christian / Sabrina Santamaria were up to the challenge. The young Trojan pair was up against UCLA's #11 Anderson/Morton, and it took another 8-6 decision to wrap up doubles play -- this one pulled out heroically by USC's Christian/Santamaria to put the Trojans ahead 1-0 in the match. Momentum stayed solidly with the Trojans from there. On the No. 2 singles court, USC's #29 freshman Sabrina Santamaria kept her impressive win streak alive and well as she claimed her 10th straight singles win with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Pamela Montez to bring USC to a 2-0 advantage. Her doubles teammate Kaitlyn Christian was also duly boosted by their doubles success, as the #75 Trojan sophomore rattled off a 6-4, 6-3 win over UCLA's #107 Skylar Morton from court four, and USC was a win away from wrapping up the upset. At the No. 6 spot, USC junior Valeria Pulido not only kept her dual-match singles slate clean, she also topped off arguably USC's biggest win since a 2009 upset of Stanford. Pulido's ninth dual-match win of the year came with a 6-3, 7-5 decision over UCLA's #118 Kaitlyn Ray, and the Women of Troy were in the books with the victory on a 4-0 advantage. Not to be left out of the big wins on the day, USC freshman #20 Zoë Scandalis delivered a straight-set upset of UCLA's #3 Robin Anderson on court one, dispatching the Bruin with a 6-2, 7-5 win that bumped the Trojans ahead 5-0. UCLA's lone point of the day would come on a three-setter from #110 Chanelle Van Nguyen at the No. 5 position over USC freshman Gabriella DeSimone. The 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 win by Van Nguyen made it 5-1, but the Women of Troy had the last word on the day. After trailing in her first set, USC #18 junior Danielle Lao powered up for a straight-set win over UCLA's #96 McCall Jones. Lao tacked up a 7-6 (1), 6-3 win over Jones, and the celebrating could officially begin for the Women of Troy.

    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 20-3 overall record, standing as Pac-12 Champion and holding strong as the No. 4 team in the nation, Gallien has upped his count to 305 wins as head coach at USC.

    Freshmen Zoë Scandalis and Sabrina Santamaria are the first Trojans to bust out of the 20-win group so far. Playing at the competitive No. 1 singles slot, Scandalis is now 31-10 overall and 13-7 in dual matches. Santamaria just recently hit 30 herself, now 31-5 overall and with a near-perfect 20-1 dual-match record primarily picked up on court three. The rest of the 20-win pack is now three-women strong, comprised of sophomore Kaitlyn Christian (28-7, 20-3 dual), junior Danielle Lao (27-5, 18-2) and freshman Gabriella DeSimone (20-10, 15-6). In the doubles realm, the youthful Christian/Santamaria combo are ahead of the pack at 25-11 overall (10-8 dual), with Pulido/Scandalis knocking on the door of the 20-win club at 18-6 (17-4 dual) and Lao/Ramos also tapping in at 18-5 (16-4 dual).

    Junior Valeria Pulido got the clinching win for USC in the Trojans' 6-1 upset of top-ranked UCLA with her own upset of ranked Bruin #118 Kaitlyn Ray, and deservedly won the latest honors as Pac-12 Player of the Week on April 23. Pulido helped secure USC's first win over rival UCLA since 2009, snapping a six-match losing streak to the Bruins, with her 6-3, 7-5 win over Ray at the No. 6 position. Thanks to Pulido's win, USC has claimed a share of the Pac-12 Championship. The win also keeps Pulido a perfect 5-0 in Pac-12 dual matches and 9-0 in all dual matches this season, giving the junior a 10-5 overall singles record and a seven-match win streak. It's Pulido's second straight clincher for the Trojans, following up her heroics in a 4-3 win over California the previous week with this latest winning effort from court six. It's Pulido's first career selection as Pac-12 Player of the Week, and she is the fourth Trojan to win the award this year, joining Zoë Scandalis, Kaitlyn Christian and Gabriella DeSimone to date.

    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 20-10 overall in singles and 15-6 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 20-3 in dual-match singles now with a 28-7 overall record. In doubles with Santamaria, she holds a 25-11 overall record with a 10-8 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 31-10 overall in singles play and 13-7 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 ranked #17 in the land, holding a 27-5 singles mark on the season with a powerful 18-2 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 31-5 overall singles record with a near-perfect 20-1 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.