Maria Sanchez Named Honda Award Nominee
May 31, 2011
USC senior Maria Sanchez has loomed large on the women's tennis scene throughout her final season at Troy, and she now caps off her career as one of four nominees up for the prestigious Honda Award. The No. 2 player in the land and recent recipient of both the 2011 ITA National Senior Player of the Year and 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year awards, Sanchez is now in line for the Honda Award for tennis. The winner of the award will then become a candidate for the Honda-Broderick Cup, awarded annually to the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year.
In the early goings of what would become her winningest season as a Trojan, Sanchez made a statement in winning the 2010 ITA National Indoor Singles Champion, becoming the first Trojan to win the title since 1986. After a run to the NCAA Singles Round of 16 and NCAA Doubles Semifinals, Sanchez finished her USC career with 116-36 (.763) career singles record and 89-43 (.674) career doubles record. A 2010 and 2011 ITA All-American in singles and 2011 ITA All-American in doubles, she was most recently named the 2011 ITA National Senior Player of the Year and 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year. That goes along with 2011 and 2010 All-Pac-10 First Team honors and 2009 All-Pac-10 Second Team accolades as a sophomore.
As a senior, Sanchez started the season ranked #3 and moved up to rank #1 in singles for three rankings cycles, entering the postseason ranked #2 and ranked #4 in doubles with Kaitlyn Christian. The pair would become the first-ever USC doubles team to reach NCAA Semifinals. As Sanchez wrapped up her final year as a Trojan, she had posted a career-best 36 singles wins with a career-low 5 losses, and recorded a career-best 30 doubles wins with career-low 6 losses. Also this season, she reached the 2011 Pac-10 Singles and Doubles title matches.
During her career at Troy, Sanchez won back-to-back ITA Regional Singles Championships in 2008 and 2009 and won the 2008 Regional Doubles Championship. Team captain as a senior, Sanchez won USC's Trojaneer Diamond Award, which goes to the graduating senior who bring the most fame and distinction to USC. On the road for her fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament with her fellow Women of Troy, Sanchez officially graduated in May 2011, having completed a major in public policy and development with a minor in business.
The last USC tennis player to be named a Honda Award finalist was Lindsey Nelson, who earned the selection as a nominee in 2006 and 2007. Sanchez' fellow 2010-11 Honda Award nominees for tennis are Lauren Embree of Florida, Jana Juricova of Cal and Stacey Tan of Stanford. Sanchez did not face Embree at all this season, but boasts wins over both Juricova (ITA National Indoor Championship) and Tan (Pac-10 Singles Semifinals).
The winner after nationwide balloting will become a candidate for The Honda-Broderick Cup awarded annually to The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. The ballot will be emailed to all NCAA senior women administrators June 1. You will be notified of the final results after 5 pm PDT June 6. In addition to the honor of this selection, American Honda will donate $1,000 to the women's athletic fund of each nominee's university. The winner's program will receive $5,000.