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No. 4 USC Women Armed For ITA Kick-Off Weekend At Marks
Thursday, 01/24/2013
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Univ. of Southern California Team Page

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The No. 4 USC women are back to hosting the ITA Kick-Off Weekend after a couple years of hitting the road for the annual play-in event for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. The Women of Troy will play host to three visiting teams for this weekend's action, running Saturday-Sunday (Jan. 26-27) at Marks Stadium. Competition begins between No. 55 Tulane and No. 67 UC Irvine on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. before No. 4 host USC (1-0) squares off against Akron at 12 p.m. On Sunday, the consolation match is set for 10 a.m., with the championship bout and a spot at the ITA Indoors goes up for grabs at 1 p.m. at Marks Stadium.

The next round of 2013 Campbell/ITA national team rankings were unfurled on Jan. 22, with the USC women still ranked No. 4 in the land. Four Women of Troy are holding strong in the top-100 individual rankings (released Jan. 3), led by #14 Danielle Lao, who is followed by #17 Sabrina Santamaria, #19 Zoë Scandalis and #56 Gabriella DeSimone. In doubles, USC has back-to-back ITA National Indoor Doubles champs Kaitlyn Christian and Santamaria standing tall at #1 in the nation, with DeSimone and Scandalis ranked #13 and 2012 ITA Southwest Regional Doubles champs Lao and Valeria Pulido at No. 40.

The Zips are unranked and 1-1 overall aver opening 2013 with a 4-3 win over Middle Tennessee State and falling 5-2 to Penn State last week. Akron currently has no players in the national rankings. This will be the first-ever meeting between USC and Akron.

The No. 55 Green Waves are opening their 2013 dual-match season this weekend at the ITA Kick-Off. Klara Vyskocilova is ranked No. 118 in national singles and No. 48 in doubles with teammate Emma Levy. USC has never before faced Tulane in program history.

The No. 67 Anteaters are 1-1 overall after opening their season with a 7-0 loss to USC and then beating San Jose State 4-3 last week. UCI currently has no players in the national rankings. USC is 26-0 all-time against UC Irvine after last week's sweep of the Anteaters.

USC kicked off the new year with a decisive victory and with two newcomers in the win column as the Trojans tacked up a 7-0 shutout of visiting No. 68 UC Irvine last week. It was a sweep down the line for USC, who got a well-rounded effort from its balanced and talented 2013 lineup. In doubles action, the nation's No. 1 team was in a tough position early in its match, as USC's Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria found themselves in a 1-4 hole. The top-ranked Trojans fell behind 2-5 as well before finally finding their high gear and jetting past UC Irvine's Gong/Smith for a come-from-behind 8-5 win that notched USC's first victory of the day. At the No. 2 slot, USC's #13 Gabriella DeSimone and Zoë Scandalis also shrugged off an early deficit in their match before powering up and putting Mamiit/Stadfelt out of reach for an 8-4 win that locked in a 1-0 advantage for the Women of Troy in the match. That win went on the board just as USC's new pairing of Giuliana Olmos and Ellie Yates -- both playing in their first matches as Trojans -- made their winning push to register an 8-5 win over Facey/Schweyer at the No. 3 position. Singles play was dominated by the Women of Troy as well. USC's two newcomers Ellie Yates and Giuliana Olmos were both eager to notch their first singles wins of their USC careers, with Yates pushing out to the first singles win of the day with a near-perfect 6-0, 6-1 victory over Nakisa Vahdat. Olmos rallied next and tallied her own shutout set in finishing off Ali Facey 6-2, 6-0. Those wins set up Gabriella DeSimone at court four for the clinching victory -- a feat she made a regular practice of last season as a freshman. DeSimone plugged a 6-1 6-2 win up over Sarah Gong, and USC had its first win of 2013 in the books. That left USC's upperclassmen left to round things out. They all would do so in straight sets. Junior Kaitlyn Christian swarmed her way to a 6-2, 6-1 win over Maravik Mamiit on court two to get USC to a 5-0 advantage. Senior Valeria Pulido finished up next, holding serve for a 6-3, 6-3 win over Sarah Stadfelt at the No. 5 spot, while fellow senior Danielle Lao also held strong from the service line to wrap up a 6-3, 6-4 win on court one after trailing UCI's Krisitna Smith 0-3 in the second set.

USC sophomore Sabrina Santamaria pulled some seriously successful double duty in Las Vegas, drumming up the singles and doubles titles at the Freeman Memorial Tennis Championship to also work her way to her first career honors as Pac-12 Player of the Week. Santamaria started the day by pairing up with her trusty doubles partner Kaitlyn Christian, and the nation's top doubles team slated two more opponents to win in the semis and final today to claim another championship. Later in the day, Santamaria struck out on her own and shocked the No. 2 seeded and #11 ranked Gina Suarez-Malaguti of UNC with a smooth 6-0, 6-1 victory in the singles championship. Christian and Santamaria started the day off right, beating a UCLA pair with an 8-4 semifinal victory over No. 3 seeded Bruins Dolehide/Montez to earn that trip to the title match. At the other side of the bracket, USC's Danielle Lao and Valeria Pulido were also in a semifinal battle, but took an 8-2 loss to UNC's No. 2 seeded Dai/Kay. Christian/Santamaria would avenge that loss by their teammates with an 8-4 win over Dai/Kay in the final to ring up the Trojan duo's first title of the spring. Meanwhile, in more Trojan competition taking place at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Palm Spring, Calif., USC was well represented in title matches there, too. Playing in her first season of action as a Trojan, USC's Giuliana Olmos made it to the singles final and took UCLA's #6 Robin Anderson to three sets before falling in the third-set tiebreaker. Anderson was also a winner on the doubles courts, as she and teammate Morton combined forces as the #16 team to beat out USC's #13 pair Gabriella DeSimone and Zoë Scandalis 8-6 in the doubles championship match.

The No. 4 USC women are led by three All-Americans. Senior Danielle Lao leads the pack at No. 14 in the nation in singles, with two more Women of Troy also standing tall in the top-20. Sophomore Sabrina Santamaria --- who reached the ITA Southwest Regional singles final for the second straight year in the fall -- sits at No. 17, along with sophomore Zoë Scandalis at No. 19. Also in the singles rankings is another USC sophomore, Gabriella DeSimone, who has her first career ITA ranking at No. 56 after her strong fall performance following up some big wins for the Trojans during the 2012 NCAA tournament.

The Women of Troy have a complete set of doubles tandems in the rankings. USC's vaunted junior-sophomore duo of Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria remain locked in as the nation's No. 1 team. The winners of back-to-back ITA National Indoor doubles championships as well as the 2012 Pac-12 doubles title and the 2012 ITA/Riviera All-American champs, Christian/Santamaria are clearly the team to beat in 2013. That won't be easy, however, as they proved with a resounding 6-0, 6-0 shutout of their opponents in the title match of the ITA National Indoors, where the Trojans became the first team since 1998 to win back-to-back doubles crowns at the event. Packing even more punch into the lineup for 2013 are another two USC women's doubles pairs in the rankings. Sophomore combo Gabriella DeSimone and Zoë Scandalis rank at No. 13 in the land, and ITA Southwest Regional champions Danielle Lao and Valeria Pulido --- the only seniors on the Trojan roster in 2013 -- stand at No. 40.

Two other women's doubles teams may have been able to win back-to-back ITA National Indoor Championships, but no one has done it as decisively as USC's Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria. In a morning title match in New York on Nov. 11, 2012, the two young Trojans successfully defend their 2011 championship with all-out domination of their opponents. A swift shutout crowned the two Women of Troy as the 2012 champs, making longtime friends Christian and Santamaria just the third team in history - and first since 1998 - to go back-to-back. In the title match, Christian and Santamaria rolled out an unheard-of 6-0, 6-0 shutout of Virginia's Nauta/Xi for a feat never before achieved in the final of the ITA National Indoors on either the women's or men's sides. The USC junior-sophomore combo now boasts four major titles together in just over one year as a Trojan tandem. Now with the back-to-back ITA National Team Indoor titles in hand, Christian and Santamaria are also the proud owners of the 2012 Pac-12 Doubles Championship and the 2012 ITA/ Riviera All-American Doubles Championship.

Last year, USC won a share of the Pac-12 Championship, finishing 8-1 in conference play before making a run to the NCAA Semifinals, thanks to a quarterfinal win over Stanford. The 24-4 finish for USC had the Trojans ranked No. 4 in the nation for USC's highest final ranking since 2006. At the Pac-12 Tournament, Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria won the Pac-12 Doubles Championship and would go on to earn the No. 4 seed into the NCAA Doubles Tournament. In the NCAA Singles Tournament, freshman Sabrina Santamaria worked her way to All-American status with a run to the quarterfinals. She would finish the year with All-American honors for singles and doubles with Christian. Danielle Lao and Zoë Scandalis also earned All-American singles accolades. Scandalis was named the ITA National Player to Watch, and Christian and Santamaria were named to the ITA All-Star Team. In USC's first appearance in the NCAA Team Semifinals since 2006, the Trojans fell 4-3 to top-seeded rival UCLA. At the close of the tourney, Sabrina Santamaria earned NCAA All-Tournament Team honors at the No. 3 singles position, and Danielle Lao / Alison Ramos were also selected for the team at No. 3 doubles.