No. 18 Trojans Fly Away With Victory Over Owls

    Jan. 28, 2017

    AUBURN, Ala. -- The No. 18 USC women’s tennis team kicked off ITA Kick Off Weekend with a bang as they defeated Rice 4-2 at the Yarbrough Tennis Center in Auburn, Ala. on Saturday, Jan. 28. By defeating the Owls in their first meeting in school history, the Women of Troy improve to 2-0 on the season.

    The Trojans will face No. 15 Auburn Sunday (Jan. 29) at 1 p.m. CT, where the winner will receive a berth to the ITA National Indoor Team Championship hosted by Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

    The Women of Troy had a challenging start in doubles as Kulikov/Westby fell to Rice’s Ip/Durkin 6-2. Shortly after their loss, USC’s duo of Failla/Valdes tied up the score 1-1 as they defeated the Owl pair of Ho/Niezgoda 6-4. The doubles point would be determined by the outcome of court one where Hodge/Zhang upset the No. 18 Trojan twosome of Katz/Smtih 6-4.

    Rice entered the singles portion of the competition with a 1-0 advantage. The Women of Troy responded with vigor as No. 52 Madison Westby came out hot defeating Rice’s Savannah Durkin 6-3, 6-0. The momentum kept rolling for the Trojans as Gabby Smith, the Pac-12 Player of the Week, took down No. 110 Katherine Ip 6-2, 6-1. This win increased Smith’s winning streak to seven straight matches.

    Rice’s Fernanda Astete kept the Owls in the match as she beat USC’s Angela Kulikov 6-3, 6-1 to tie the overall match score at 2-2. Trojan Zoë Katz claimed another win for the Trojans from court one by defeating Wendy Zhang 6-4, 6-2.

    With two courts left in play, it was a race to the finish. After winning her first set over Rice’s No. 102 Alison Ho, USC’s Rianna Valdes fell behind 2-5 in the second set on court three. With racquet ablaze, Valdes claimed the next five games to win the set 7-5 and clinch the match for USC. No. 46 Jessica Failla’s match versus Lindsey Hodge was left unfinished.



    The Women of Troy are 1-0 against Auburn all-time, with their only encounter occurring in 2010 as USC defeated the Tigers 4-0 at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.

    #18 USC 4, Rice 2
    Jan. 28, 2017 - Yarbrough Tennis Center (Auburn, Ala.)
    (1) Zhang/Hodge (Rice) def. #18 Katz/Smith (USC) - 6-4
    (2) Failla/Valdes (USC) def. Ho/Niezgoda (Rice) - 6-4
    (3) Ip/Durkin (Rice) def. Kulikov/Westby (USC) - 6-2
    Rice wins doubles point.
    Order of finish: 3, 1, 2
    (1) #56 Zoë Katz (USC) def. Wendy Zhang (Rice) - 6-4, 6-2
    (2) Gabby Smith (USC) def. #110 Katherine Ip (Rice) - 6-2, 6-1
    (3) #46 Jessica Failla (USC) vs. Lindsey Hodge (Rice) - 4-6, 3-3, unfinished 
    (4) Rianna Valdes (USC) def. #102 Alison Ho (Rice) - 6-2, 7-5*
    (5) #52 Madison Westby (USC) def. Savannah Durkin (Rice) - 6-3, 6-0
    (6) Fernanda Astete (Rice) def. Angela Kulikov (USC) - 6-3, 6-1
    Order of finish: 5, 2, 6, 1, 4*