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Univ. of Southern California Women Team News
Pac-12 Team Champs Take Aim At Singles & Doubles Titles in Ojai
Thursday, 04/25/2013

THIS WEEK - The No. 5 USC women's tennis team takes a break from team competition this week and settles in for individual competition at the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, Calif. Singles action starts up on Thursday (April 25) and doubles battles begin on Friday (April 26) as conference player vie for 2013 Pac-12 titles. The women's singles championship match will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday (April 28) followed by the women's doubles title match at 2 p.m. The semifinal round and both finals will be held at Libbey Park. All earlier rounds will be held at Ojai Valley Athletic Club.
 
TUNE IN
The women's singles will be televised live on Sunday (April 28) at 10 a.m. on Pac-12 Networks. The women's doubles championship will be aired on tape delay at 8 p.m. on Sunday. Watch online HERE.
 
ITA RANKING UPDATES
The last set of 2013 Campbell/ITA national team rankings were unfurled on April 23, with the USC women ranked No. 5 in the land for the fourth straight cycle. USC was No. 4 from Jan. 3-Feb. 18 and was No. 6 in the next cycle before taking a loss to No. 7 Cal that dropped the Trojans out of the top-10 for just one week. The latest individual rankings were released April 23, with sophomore Sabrina Santamaria -- once ranked No. 1 in the nation in singles -- still locked at No. 2 in the land. Senior Danielle Lao stands at No. 9 to hold strong in the top-10. Sophomore Zoë Scandalis is currently No. 32, followed by fellow sophomores No. 76 Gabriella DeSimone and #112 Giuliana Olmos. In doubles, USC's top guns Santamaria and Kaitlyn Christian remain undefeated, but have slipped down to No. 2 after having reigned supreme as the nation's No. 1 team all season long until last week's ranking cycle. USC also has No. 54 DeSimone/Scandalis and No. 67 Lao/Pulido locked in the national doubles rankings.
 
PAC-12 PLAN
There will be a 32-player women's singles draw consisting of three players from each of the top-10 schools that sponsor women's tennis and two players from the 11th-place team. The 16-team women's doubles draw at the annual Pac-12 Tennis Tournament in Ojai, Calif, will have one doubles team from each of the 11 schools and five additional teams selected by the Draw Committee. The Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament is a 113-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.
 
THIS TIME LAST YEAR
Last year, USC's dynamic doubles duo of Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria -- then a sophomore/freshman combination -- rolled through competition as the No. 3 seeds and won the 2012 Pac-12 Doubles Championship with a 6-4, 6-4 upset of top-seeded Stanford pair Burdette/Gibbs. On the singles side, then-freshman No. 6 seed Zoë Scandalis was the most far-reaching Trojan with a run to the quarterfinals. Also competing in the championship singles draw were No. 7 seeded junior Danielle Lao, No. 8 freshman Sabrina Santamaria and sophomore Kaitlyn Christian. In invitational competition, it was an all-Trojan singles final between Valeria Pulido and Gabriella DeSimone. The elder Trojan Pulido got the title win with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over her freshman teammate DeSimone.
 
AND NOW...
For the 2013 edition, USC has a powerful load of Trojans slated for competition in Ojai. On the championship side, USC has three players -- No. 5 seed Zoë Scandalis, Gabriella DeSimone and Giuliana Olmos -- lined up in the singles draw. In doubles, two Trojan pairings will play in the Pac-12 championship draw: top-seeded defending champs Kaitlyn Christian / Sabrina Santamaria as well as Gabriella DeSimone / Danielle Lao. On the invitational singles side, USC has Valeria Pulido and Ellie Yates reporting for duty in that draw.
 
PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP SINGLES
Round of 32 -- Thursday, April 25 #112 Giuliana Olmos (USC) vs. Luda Vasilieva (WSU) - 8 a.m. [5] #32 Zoë Scandalis (USC) vs. Lacey Smith (ARIZ) - 9:30 a.m. #76 Gabriella DeSimone (USC) vs. Akilah James (ARIZ) - 12:30 p.m
 
PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLES
Round of 16 - Friday, April 26 DeSimone/Lao (USC) vs. Googe/Vasilieva (WSU) - 9 a.m. [1] #2 Christian/Santamaria (USC) McPhillips/Van Nguyen (UCLA) - 10 a.m.
 
BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPS
USC locked in as Pac-12 champion for the second straight season thanks to a 5-2 win at No. 64 Oregon, which secured the Women of Troy as the only team still undefeated in Pac-12 play with one match to go. USC finished atop the Pac-12 standings last season with a 9-1 record, falling only to Stanford in 2012. This season, the Trojans avenged that loss to the Cardinal with a powerful 6-1 win over Stanford last month. USC beat Cal and Stanford both that weekend to give those teams their only losses of the year, guaranteeing the Trojans at least a share of the 2013 Pac-12 Championship. To top it all off, USC would finish the regular season by pounding crosstown rival UCLA 6-1 for the second straight season in the teams' Pac-12 meeting, this time on the Trojans' home courts. The dominating win over the Bruins also secured the Women of Troy as the undefeated champions of the Pac-12 for 2013. The 6-1 win over No. 7 UCLA iced a perfect Pac-12 finish for the Trojans, who have won 13 straight matches as they close the regular season with a 21-2 overall record and that shining 10-0 Pac-12 finish. The victory also marked USC's first back-to-back wins over UCLA since the 2006 season.
 
TROJANS BY THE NUMBERS
As USC has successfully gathered in its second straight 20-win season, several Women of Troy are also hitting high marks in the individual win columns. Currently holding a 21-match win streak, Sabrina Santamaria leads the pack with a 30-3 overall singles record, including a perfect 7-0 dual-match mark. Next is Danielle Lao (25-5, 18-2) followed by three more 20-win club members: Gabriella DeSimone at 22-8, 14-4, Kaitlyn Christian at 21-6, 14-3 and Giuliana Olmos at 20-5, 17-4. Other heavy hitters in the Trojan lineup are Zoë Scandalis at 17-7, 13-2 and Ellie Yates (14-3, 13-2). Overall, every single Trojan has a single-digit loss count in singles play, led by Santamaria having won 91 percent of her matches. With USC's win over Oregon on April 14, the Trojans hit 20 teams wins for the third time in the past five seasons and 15th time overall.
 
LAST WEEK
USC pounded crosstown rival UCLA 6-1 for the second straight season in the teams' Pac-12 meeting, this time on the Trojans' home courts. Last week's dominating win over the Bruins also secured the Women of Troy as the undefeated champions of the Pac-12 for 2013. USC entered the match already owning at least a share of the conference crown, but the 6-1 win over No. 7 UCLA iced a perfect Pac-12 finish for the Trojans, who have won 13 straight matches as they close the regular season with a 21-2 overall record and that shining 10-0 Pac-12 finish. The victory also marked USC's first back-to-back wins over UCLA since the 2006 season. The Women of Troy made their first ringing statement in doubles play, where USC ripped out ahead of the Bruins with two relatively easy wins on courts one and two. USC's Olmos/Scandalis found a winning groove first as they busted out ahead of UCLA's Anderson/Dolehide at the No. 2 spot for an 8-2 win. The Trojans' top guns, #2 Christian/Santamaria had to fend off a late push by Bruins Montez/Morton on court one, but the Trojan tandem proved far too tough and wrapped up the doubles point for USC with an 8-3 win -- the pair's 26th win of 2013 as they remain undefeated on the year. On court three, the teams would play out their match with a tiebreaker after snarling at 6-6. USC's DeSimone/Lao cruised in the tiebreaker to win it 7-6 (1) for some extra Trojan momentum entering singles. The Pac-12 Networks broadcast the singles action live from Marks Stadium, and the Trojans put on a powerful performance. The tangle on court one between USC's #2 Sabrina Santamaria and #3 Robin Anderson looked to be the battle of the match, but Santamaria proved the aggressor from the start and gave her highly ranked opponent no slack in the match. After surrendering just one early game to Anderson, Santamaria wound up winning the last nine games of the match for a lopsided 6-1, 6-0 victory that plugged a second point on the board for the Women of Troy. Over on court three, meanwhile, USC's #30 Zoë Scandalis was in a similarly dominant form against UCLA's Pamela Montez. Scandalis was in complete control there, too, and shut down Montez with a 6-2, 6-1 win that had the Trojans in the driver's seat for victory. At the No. 5 slot, USC's #75 Gabriella DeSimone toyed with match point for a moment against UCLA's Courtney Dolehide before finally taking the match from the service line to clinch it all for the Trojans with her 6-3, 6-4 victory. The win marked DeSimone's seventh match-clinching singles win of the season for the sophomore.
 
STRONG START
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 on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. The 1982 Trojan team tallied 9-0 wins in its first five matches that year. In 2013, the USC women 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 the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. There, the Trojans made a move into the quarterfinals with a 4-1 win over No. 12 Virginia. That broke up USC's stretch of shutout wins, and the Trojans would take their first loss of 2013 with a tight 4-3 defeat at the hands of No. 8 North Carolina. The Tar Heels would go on to win it all, taking the ITA Indoor title with a victory over UCLA in the final. USC, meanwhile, would find redemption in a solid 4-1 consolation match over No. 7 California, bringing USC's overall record to 7-1. At tournament's end, USC would land Danielle Lao on the ITA National Indoor All-Tournament Team for her strength at No. 1 singles, along with Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria on the team for No. 1 doubles.
 
D-LAO THE GIANT KILLER
A force to reckon with for the Trojans at the top of the lineup, senior Danielle Lao took down two top-10 opponents in singles play at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, opening the tournament with a bigtime upset of Virginia's #4 Julia Elbaba in straight sets. Ranked #10 in the nation at the time, Lao beat North Carolina's #28 Zoe De Bruycker in straight sets as well the next day, and then capped off the weekend with yet another straight-set upset in a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Cal's #7 Zsofi Susanyi to clinch USC's win over the Bears. In doubles, Lao went 2-1 with teammate Giuliana Olmos, including a clinching win over UNC's ranked pair. Lao's winning run kept the senior undefeated in dual-match singles play. She's now ranked #9 in the land, holding a 25-5 overall singles record and an 18-2 mark in dual-match play.
 
PAC-12 PUNCH
USC has a full lineup of Pac-12 Player of the Week recipients this season, led by three-time honoree Sabrina Santamaria. Santmaria picked up the first award of the year on Jan. 21, and Giuliana Olmos made it back-to-back honors with a win in the second week of action (Jan. 28). Joining the honor roll since then have been four more Women of Troy: Danielle Lao (Feb. 12), Ellie Yates (March 5), Zoë Scandalis (March 19), Gabriella DeSimone (April 2) and Kaitlyn Christian (April 23). With nine weekly awards won this season, the Trojans have totally dominated the Pac-12 honor roll, which has dished out 14 such awards this year.
 
POWER COUPLE
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 hauled in 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 26-0 record together this season. Santamaria also spent a cycle atop the singles rankings from Feb. 12-25.
 
LAST 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 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.
 
SINGLES SCENE
The USC women are led by three All-Americans. Senior Danielle Lao entered her senior campaign leading the pack at No. 14 in the nation in singles, with two more Women of Troy also standing tall in the top-20 to start 2013. Sophomore Sabrina Santamaria --- who reached the ITA Southwest Regional singles final for the second straight year in the fall -- sat at No. 17, along with sophomore Zoë Scandalis at No. 19. Also in the singles rankings to start was another USC sophomore, Gabriella DeSimone, who held 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.
 
DOUBLES DOSE
The Women of Troy opened 2013 with 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 were another two USC women's doubles pairs in the rankings. Sophomore combo Gabriella DeSimone and Zoë Scandalis ranked No. 13 in the land to start 2013, and ITA Southwest Regional champions Danielle Lao and Valeria Pulido --- the only seniors on the Trojan roster in 2013 -- stood at No. 40.
 
DESERT SUCCESS
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.