No. 38 USC Women Head To Westwood For Clash With No. 29 UCLA|
Feb. 23, 2016
The No. 38 Women of Troy are set up for their first face-off against rival UCLA since USC beat the Bruins 4-3 to finish out an undefeated Pac-12 season last year. Now, the Trojans (3-3) head over to Westwood to take on No. 29 UCLA on Thursday (Feb. 25) in a 1:30 p.m. match that does not count toward Pac-12 standings.
ORACLE/ITA RANKINGS UPDATES
The Women of Troy — NCAA semifinalists in 2015 — started the new year right where they left off, as the No. 2 team in the land in the first team rankings of 2016. In the latest round of national rankings (Feb. 23), USC currently ranks No. 38 as a team. In the latest set of individual rankings (Feb. 23), USC has five Trojans locked in with singles rankings. Senior Giuliana Olmos continues to lead the way, now ranked #21 in the nation. She’s followed by two freshmen — #60 Rianna Valdes and #66 Jessica Failla — and two sophomores — #85 Madison Westby and #90 Gabby Smith — and. In doubles, USC boasts the #8 pair in the land in Olmos and Smith, while Smith also enjoys a #28 doubles ranking with Failla.
The No. 29 Bruins are 5-3 overall after falling to Pepperdine 6-1 and to California 5-2 last week. UCLA has #19 Catherine Harrison nationally ranked in singles and #5 Harrison/McPhillips ranked in doubles. USC is 49-43 all-time against the Bruins after falling 4-3 at UCLA last season in nonconference action and then beating the Bruins 4-3 at home to complete an undefeated Pac-12 season in 2015.
USC’s was up against a highly ranked opponent for the second straight match. After falling to No. 3 host Florida, the Trojans were back in Los Angeles to host No. 1 California last week. USC managed some impressive upset wins during the match, but wound up losing to the Golden Bears 6-1. USC collected the first win of the day as #11 Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith upset Cal’s #2 Manasse/Starr 6-4. On court three, USC’s Rianna Valdes and Madison Westby put up a fight, but fell short to California’s Chi/Lin 7-5. Doubles concluded with a nailbiter. The Trojan twosome of Jessica Failla and Zoë Katz took an early 3-1 lead on court two, but the Golden Bear duo of Fabikova/Hauger caught up to tie the score at 6-6 to take it to a tiebreak. After exchanging points back and forth, the Bears went on a run to take the tiebreak and the match with a 7-6 (3) score. The Bears opened up singles play with a 1-0 lead on the Trojans. On court six, California would increase its lead to 2-0 as Bear Karla Popovic defeated USC’s Zoë Katz 6-1, 6-3. California captured another point as Cal’s #5 Klara Fabikova beat USC’s #62 Madison Westby 6-2, 6-2 on court two. USC’s #38 Giuliana Olmos would provide the Trojans with their only win of the day in singles play as she outlasted Cal’s #13 Maegan Manasse 6-3, 6-3 on court one. #102 Olivia Hauger would clinch the match for the Golden Bears as she seized a win over Trojan #90 Rianna Valdes 6-4, 6-3 on court five. Though California had already won, the remaining two matches were played out. After winning the first set 6-3, USC’s #87 Gabby Smith lost the second set 7-5 to Cal’s Lynn Chi. A tiebreaker to 10-points was played, and Chi prevailed to snag the set and the match with a score of 10-3. Finally, USC’s #95 Jessica Failla was locked in a battle against Cal’s #121 Denise Starr on court four. After narrowly losing the first set to Starr 7-6 (3), Failla fell to her Bear opponent 6-4 in the second set to end the day as a 6-1 Cal victory.
SOLID SENIOR STATUS
USC’s lone senior this season is the talented top gun Giuliana Olmos, the Trojans’ only ITA All-American on the roster and a true veteran for USC. Her list of accolades continues to grow. A 2014 Pac-12 Doubles Champion with then-senior Kaitlyn Christian, Olmos would also earn All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and reach the NCAA Singles and Doubles Rounds of 32 in her sophomore season. As a junior, Olmos won the ITA SOuthwest Regional Doubles Championship with partner Gabby Smith and went on to reach the Pac-12 singles semifinals, earned a place on the All-Pac-12 First Team and worked her way into the NCAA Singles Round of 32 as a 9-16 seed and to the NCAA Doubles Round of 16. Now a senior captain for the Women of Troy, Olmos continues to raise the bar as she’s stepped into the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles slots this season. Olmos opened the 2015-16 season with her highest career singles ranking at #10 in the land. Her highest career doubles rank was #4 in February 2014 alongside Zoë Scandalis.
Senior Giuliana Olmos and junior Zoë Katz are the veterans on the Trojan roster this season, with three sophomores and two freshmen joining them for the bulk of the playing time in 2016. Sophomores Gabby Smith, Madison Westby and Meredith Xepoleas got a lion’s share of experience as freshmen as they helped anchor USC’s run to a No. 1 ranking and a run to the NCAA Semifinals in 2015. This year, that trio of sophomores brings back their savvy in helping USC’s newcomers settle into the lineup. Freshmen Jessica Failla and Rianna Valdes are key components in the USC ladder, and both are now ranked in the top-70 in the national rankings to date.
ROSE CUP TO THE RESCUE!
Four years ago, USC women’s tennis decided it wanted to make a difference in the world. When then-junior Kaitlyn Christian’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, now-senior Giuliana Olmos was moved to find a way to help. Olmos and her teammates started the Rose Cup — named for Kaitlyn’s mother — to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Every fall since the event’s inception in 2012, USC student-athletes combine forces on the courts at Marks Stadium in support for the cause. Rose has since beaten her disease, and this season the Trojans dedicated their efforts in honor of Madison Westby’s aunt Pam, who is currently in her own fight with breast cancer. At the fourth annual edition of the Rose Cup — held in November 2015 — the $5,000 raised through the tournament, t-shirts sold and other donations went directly to Dr. Julie Lang’s research lab at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
MARKS STADIUM UPGRADE
The USC men’s and women’s tennis teams have called the David X. Marks Tennis Stadium home since its construction in 1971. This year, Trojan tennis moves back into a revamped and renovated home that is up-to-date and in line with the impressive accomplishments of both programs. The courts were open for action throughout construction, and a ribbon-cutting and dedication for the new facility was held on Feb. 16 to officially unveil the newest additions to the Marks Tennis Stadium — the Buntmann Family Tennis Center, Fritz B. Burns Center Court, Lisa and Douglas Goldman Family Student-Athlete Learning Center and Michael Uytengsu Tennis Pavilion — the happy home of the USC men’s and women’s tennis teams. The Buntmann Family Tennis Center entrance and lobby welcomes fans and visitors and put on display the rich history of USC tennis. To improve the building functionality and support the tennis program operations, the new Lisa and Douglas Goldman Family Student-Athlete Learning Studio supports direct collaboration between coaches, staff and athletes on a daily basis. The teams also utilize and enjoy brand-new suites with lockers, showers, team meeting rooms and lounges. Both teams have access to a new training room, a stringing storage area and a large multi-purpose room. To better accommodate and enhance the spectator experience, new spectator shade canopies have been added and a new elevator to the seating area has been installed. In addition to the lead gift from the Buntmann family, the renovation has been made possible thanks to financial support from the Lisa and Douglas Goldman family, the Fritz B. Burns Foundation, John Shea and Michael Uytengsu.
The 2015 Women of Troy had a banner season in earning their first #1 national ranking in over a decade and working their way to the NCAA Semifinals for the second time in four seasons. USC’s 25-3 final overall record marked the most wins by the program since USC won the NCAA title in 1985 and the most wins in head coach Richard Gallien’s 20-year tenure with the program. The Trojans also went undefeated in Pac-12 play in 2015 to win another conference title, and worked its way to the top of the national rankings for the first time since 2003. USC also was seeded No. 1 in the 2015 NCAA draw — the Trojans’ 24th consecutive trip to the tournament — entering the tourney as the top seed for the first time since 1985, when USC last won a national championship. In all, it was an outstanding season for the Women of Troy, who were a balanced mix of veteran strength and freshman talent. For seniors Gabriella DeSimone, Sabrina Santamaria and Zoë Scandalis, the year marked their second NCAA Semifinal appearance, having reached that round as freshmen in 2012. Santamaria and junior Giuliana Olmos both picked up ITA All-American honors at the close of the season. Scandalis would go on to earn high honors as a top-9 finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year awards. •