USC grad and former Pac-10 Player of the Year Maria Sanchez
hit a new high in her professional career last week, winning her first WTA title. The Trojan paired up with Sharon Fichman at the ASP Auckland, and the American pair came away victorious in New Zealand.
In the quarterfinals, Sanchez and her teammate rang up a signature win in beating current world #3 and former US Open doubles champion Andrea Hlavackova and her partner Lucie Safarova with a straight-set win that propelled Sanchez along to the semis. There, Sanchez and Fichman handled Mona Barthel and Megan Moulton-Levy 6-2, 6-4 to set up a title bout against Lucie Hradecka and Michaella Krajicek. In the championship, Sanchez and Fichman shrugged off a loss in the first set with a powerful 6-0 win in the second followed by a 10-4 decision to secure the title for the Trojan.
Since turning pro, Sanchez has won two ITF women's circuit singles titles and seven ITF doubles titles, but this Auckland championship is the Trojans' first WTA title. Sanchez is currently ranked #177 in the world in the WTA singles rankings and is #109 in the world in WTA doubles.
Sanchez was a nominee for the Honda Award following her senior season at USC
. Also the recipient of the 2011 ITA National Senior Player of the Year and 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year awards, 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.