Women of Trow Seeded Third For ITA National Indoors
Semifinalists at last year's ITA National Team Indoor Championships, the No. 4 USC women are looking to dig even deeper into the tourney as the Trojans make serious strides in their 2013 campaign. USC carries a 5-0 overall record into this year's ITA Indoor Championships, held Feb. 8-11 and hosted by the University of Virginia at the Boar's Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va. Not since 1982 has a USC women's tennis team managed to tally five consecutive shutout wins to start a season, so the Women of Troy can make some USC history this week if they can silence their opponents in the first round of this year's ITA National Indoors. The No. 3 seed in this year's ITA Indoor draw, USC will open up against unseeded host Virginia at 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday (Feb. 8). A win there would put the Trojans up against either No. 6 seed UNC or Texas A&M in Saturday's quarterfinals. (Complete draw on page 5 of this release)
ITA NATIONAL INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL PAGE
ITA RANKING UPDATES
The latest round of 2013 Campbell/ITA national team rankings were unfurled on Jan. 30, 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.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR
The USC women were 5-0 overall last season as well on the way into the 2012 ITA National Team Indoor Championships, also held in Charlottesville. The Trojans were ranked No. 16 in the nation entering the tourney, and quickly made a statement with a 4-2 upset of No. 8 North Carolina in the first round. In the quarterfinals, USC topped No. 17 Tennessee 4-1 to reach the ITA National Indoor semifinals for the first time since 2003, while also marking USC's best start to a season since 1999 with its seven straight wins to open the year. The Trojans would go up against No. 4 rival UCLA in the semis, and took a 4-0 loss to the Bruins there to fall just short of what would have been USC's first-ever final appearance at the tournament since it began in 1988.
USC matched the most dominant start to a season in program history -- set in 1982 with five consecutive shutout wins -- when the Trojans dished out back-to-back 7-0 sweeps of opponents last week. The 1982 Trojan team tallied 9-0 wins in its first five matches that year. In 2013, the USC women have posted three 7-0 sweeps along with 6-0 and 4-0 decisions during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend to build up a hefty head of steam entering this week's ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Playing in their last outdoor matches until a Feb. 20 homecoming, the Women of Troy first swept No. 33 Pepperdine 7-0 on the road before heading back to Marks Stadium to sweep No. 56 Fresno State 7-0. Appearing in singles play for both matches, USC's Danielle Lao, Kaitlyn Christian, Sabrina Santamaria and Valeria Pulido all recorded a pair of singles wins to aid the Trojan cause. Olmos would provide the clincher at Pepperdine, while freshman Ellie Yates secured victory over Fresno State. Lao and Olmos also would prove a powerful doubles pair, teaming up victoriously in both matches.
Finally hosting the event after two seasons on the road for ITA Kick-Off Weekend, USC settled in at Marks Stadium for two solid sweeps to punch the Trojans' second straight ticket to the ITA National Indoor Championships. The Women of Troy first topped Akron 6-0, then silenced No. 67 UC Irvine with a 4-0 win in USC's second meeting against the Anteaters in 11 days. Rainy days called for adjustments to the scheduling, as USC played out its match with Akron on three courts. Kaitlyn Christian would come up with the clincher with her smooth 6-1, 6-0 victory at the No. 4 position, and USC would go on to compete the straight-set sweep for a 6-0 win, with doubles unplayed. The next day, skies were clear enough to play doubles first, and USC powered through to the first point in 32 minutes against UC Irvine. With the Trojans later up 3-0, USC's Danielle Lao and Zoë Scandalis were neck-and-neck en route to the clinching win. Lao got it done first, and wrapped up the 4-0 win for USC to put the Trojans through to the Indoors.
USC captured the first two Pac-12 Player of the Week picks of 2013 with back-to-back honors going to Sabrina Santamaria and Giuliana Olmos. Santamaria secured her first career weekly award on Jan. 21 with her winning run to both the singles and doubles titles at the Freeman Memorial Tennis Championship. A week later, Olmos was playing in her first ITA Kick-Off Weekend and dominated her opponents to pick up her first career honor and USC's second straight Pac-12 Player of the Week win of 2013.
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. Christian/Santamaria currently hold a perfect 15-0 record together this season.
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.