Maria Sanchez Named Pac-10 Player of the Year
May 18, 2011
USC senior Maria Sanchez has become just the third Trojan women's tennis player to be named Pac-10 Player of the Year as she also pockets her second selection to the All-Pac-10 First Team in leading the Women of Troy throughout the 2011 tennis season. USC's newest Pac-10 Player of the Year, Sanchez is joined on the all-conference honor roll by sophomore Danielle Lao, who has earned a spot on the All-Pac-10 Second Team. As both players prepare for action at the 2011 NCAA Singles Championships starting up next week, the two Trojans were instrumental in guiding the USC women back to an NCAA Tournament appearance this season.
Maria Sanchez has etched her name in USC history in many ways during her Trojan career. Now one of only three Women of Troy to be named Pac-10 Player of the Year, Sanchez already stands as a two-time All-American and has been a mainstay atop the national rankings throughout her senior season. She currently ranks No. 2 in the land, and held the No. 1 spot for several weeks. She's now seeded second in the 2011 NCAA Singles draw, and is No. 3 on the docket for NCAA Doubles alongside freshman teammate Kaitlyn Christian. Sanchez established herself as the best in the nation when she became the first Trojan to win the USTA/ITA National Indoor Singles Championship since 1986 in capturing the 2010 title this fall. She went on to remain a force in the conference and the nation, reaching the Pac-10 singles and doubles title matches in the 2011 tournaments in Ojai. Sanchez also was an All-Pac-10 First Team honoree as a junior in 2010, and was selected to the All-Pac-10 Second Team as a sophomore in 2009. She claimed the ITA Regional Singles championships in 2009 and 2010, and the ITA Regional Doubles crown in 2009. Sanchez has also garnered international experience as a member of the 2009 and 2010 USTA Summer Collegiate Teams and the USA's 2010 Master'U BNP Paribas Team. She will finish her USC career as a four-time Pac-10 Player of the Week, and takes a 35-4 overall singles record this season into the NCAA Singles action, and a 27-4 overall doubles mark with Christian into the doubles field. Her career records are just as daunting. Sanchez has a 115-35 career singles record as a Trojan, and is 86-41 in her doubles career at Troy to date. Sanchez joins former USC players Nicole Leimbach (2005) and Lindsey Nelson (2007) as the Women of Troy to win the Pac-10 Player of the Year award.
Sophomore Danielle Lao currently sits at No. 24 in the nation in singles as she sets up to make her second appearance in the NCAA Singles Championships next week. The 2010 ITA Regional Singles champion, Lao now has her first spot on the All-Pac-10 Second Team. She was the ITA Southwest Regional Rookie of the Year last season as a freshman after picking up 2010 All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention, and also was selected as a member of the 2010 USTA Summer Collegiate Team. Lao netted two singles wins for the Trojans in last weekend's NCAA First and Second Rounds to take a 25-12 overall singles record into the coming NCAA Singles competition.
NCAA individual action kicks off on May 25 at Stanford, with Sanchez and Lao's singles efforts joined by doubles pushes by Sanchez and Christian and the Trojan tandem of Valeria Pulido / Alison Ramos. Stay tuned!
2011 All-Pac-10 Women's Tennis Awards
Player of the Year: Maria Sanchez, USC
Kristie Ahn, STAN