USC Women Head North To Visit Stanford & Cal In Pac-12 Play|
March 8, 2016
The Women of Troy dig deeper into Pac-12 play this week, taking their 2-0 start to conference action on the road with them for a visit to the Bay Area. No. 43 USC (5-4, 2-0 Pac-12) will first face off against No. 23 Stanford (6-3, 1-1) in a 1:30 p.m. matchup on Friday (March 11) in Palo Alto. Then, the Trojans journey to Berkeley for a 12 p.m. clash against No. 1 California (12-0, 2-0) on Saturday (March 12).
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 (March 8), USC stands as the No. 43 team in the land. In the latest set of individual rankings (March 8), USC has five Trojans locked in with singles rankings. Senior Giuliana Olmos continues to lead the way, now ranked #25 in the nation. She’s followed by two sophomores — #90 Gabby Smith and #101 Madison Westby — and two freshmen — #111 Rianna Valdes and #125 Jessica Failla. In doubles, USC boasts the #8 pair in the land in Olmos and Smith, while Smith also enjoys a #53 doubles ranking with Failla.
The No. 23 Cardinal is 6-3 overall and 1-1 in Pac-12 play after beating Arizona 5-2 and falling to Arizona State 4-3 last week. Stanford has four players nationally ranked in singles: #26 Taylor Davidson, #55 Caroline Doyle, #59 Carol Zhao and #88 Krista Hardebeck. In doubles, Stanford has #3 Davidson/Doyle and #49 Hardebeck/Lampl. USC is 22-63 all-time against the Cardinal after a 6-1 win last season at Marks Stadium.
The No. 1 Golden Bears are 12-0 overall and 2-0 in Pac-12 play after beating Arizona State 5-2 and Arizona 6-1 last week. Cal has five players nationally ranked in singles: #11 Klara Fabikova, #12 Maegan Manasse, #56 Lynn Chi, #60 Denise Starr and #77 Olivia Hauger. In doubles, Cal has #4 Manasse/Starr and #72 Fabikova/Hauger. USC is 40-34 all-time against the Bears after a 6-2 loss in a nonconference matchup earlier this season at Marks Stadium. Last year, USC scored two 4-3 victories over Cal during the regular season.
USC snapped a three-match skid with back-to-back wins last weekend to open Pac-12 play. The Trojans hosted No. 41 Washington first and pinned up a 5-2 win over the Huskies. The next day, USC topped No. 47 WSU 5-1. Against Washington, the Trojans collected the first win of the day as Zoë Katz and Madison Westby ran away with their doubles match to win 6-2 on court two. Courts one and three were locked in with identical 5-4 scores late into their respective matches. On court one, the #8 Trojan pair of Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith blasted through their last game to win the set 6-4 and take the doubles point for Troy while court three’s match was suspended. The Trojans opened up singles play on a high note as #21 Giuliana Olmos took no prisoners as she defeated her Husky opponent Nour Abbes 6-0, 6-1 on court one. On court five, #66 Jessica Failla notched another point for Troy to increase USC’s lead to 3-0 with her winning score of 6-1, 6-1 over Washington’s Kenadi Hance. On court three, USC’s #85 Gabby Smith clinched the match for the Trojans as she outlasted Washington’s Tami Grende 6-3, 6-3. After defeating Washington’s Sophia Bott 6-2 on court six, #60 Rianna Valdes fell to Bott 6-2 in the second set. Before the third set began, Valdes was forced to retire due to injury. Minutes later, Zoë Katz seized her match with a 6-1, 6-1 score. On court two, #90 Madison Westby was entrenched in battle. Her match against #99 Stacey Fung would end on a second-set tiebreaker, with Fung edging out Westby to claim a second point for UW on a 6-4, 7-6 (4) decision. The next day against WSU, the teams bypassed doubles play due to weather in order to dig right into singles action, and USC’s #21 Olmos staked her claim on a quick 6-0, 6-3 win over WSU’s Maria Biryukova on court one to net an early 1-0 advantage for her Women of Troy. The Cougars fired back from court six with a 6-2, 6-0 win from Lize Leenknecht over Kristen Venter in the USC freshman’s first dual-match appearance. Not long after, fellow freshman #66 Failla whipped up a 6-3, 6-1 win on court five over WSU’s Aneta Miksovska to tug the Trojans to a 2-1 lead just before rain interrupted the action at Marks Stadium. The wet weather was short-lived, and the teams got back to action after about 20 minutes. There were three matches still pending at that point, including a pair of three-setters. At the No. 4 spot, USC junior Katz shrugged off a first-set loss and roared to a 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 comeback win over Trang Hunyh, nudging the Trojans to a 3-1 lead, within reach of a clincher. Both sophomores Smith and Westby were nearing the finish lines in their respective matches, but it was Westby who would wrap up first. The #90 Westby finished off a tight second set to beat #119 Donika Bashota in straight sets 6-4, 7-5 to clinch the win from court two with USC up 4-1. Shortly after, #85 Smith put the finishing touches on her three-set comeback victory over Barbora Michalkova on court three with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 decision that wound down the day’s action as a 5-1 Trojan 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. •