Women of Troy Open Pac-12 Conference Play

    March 8, 2017

    USC Women's Tennis Release Get Acrobat Reader

    The No. 21 USC women's tennis team (4-3) opens up Pac-12 conference play this weekend as the Trojans take on No. 12 California on Friday (March 9) and No. 14 Stanford on Saturday (March 10) in Marks Stadium at 1:30 p.m. and 12 p.m., respectively.

    On March 7, the Oracle/ITA team rankings were updated, elevating the Women of Troy 11 spots to No. 21 after their exciting 5-2 upset over No. 4 Michigan last Friday (March 3). Four Pac-12 programs are currently in the nation's Top 25: No. 12 California, No. 14 Stanford, No. 21 USC and No. 25 Washington. The singles/doubles rankings were also updated on March 7. Junior Gabby Smith increased her position by eight as she secured the No. 25 ranking. Sophomore Jessica Failla also improved her ranking as she is slotted at No. 38 (improved from No. 55). Senior Zoë Katz dropped from No. 80 to No. 88, and junior Madison Westby fell from No. 104 to No. 113. In doubles, USC continues to boast four pairs in the national rankings. No. 21 Katz/Smith lead the way, with No. 64 Kulikov/Westby, No. 75 Failla/Valdes and No. 78 Katz/Westby also earning acknowledgment in the national rankings.

    Rianna Valdes WINS PAC-12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
    For the third time this season, a Trojan woman was selected as the Pac-12 Player of the Week. Sophomore Rianna Valdes was selected as the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Monday (March 6) after clinching USC's 5-2 upset over No. 4 Michigan on Friday (March 3). After winning her first set 6-3, Valdes dropped the second set 6-4 to Michigan's No. 125 Chiara Lommer. She then surged ahead to win the third set 6-4 securing the USC victory. With the win, Valdes improved to 3-3 in dual match play this season and broke a two-match losing streak. This marked Valdes' third clincher of the season, the most on the team. In addition to Michigan, she also clinched USC's matches against Rice and San Diego State.

    This was Valdes' first career Player of the Week Award. With junior Gabby Smith collecting two of these awards already this season, USC's three Pac-12 Player of the Week awards are more than any other Pac-12 conference team can claim.

    The Golden Bears are coming off a bye-week as they travel down to Los Angeles to face the Trojans to open up conference play. No. 12 California currently holds a 6-2 record, featuring three singles players in the national rankings: No. 9 Karla Popovic. No. 45 Maegan Manasse and No. 96 Olivia Hauger. In doubles, No. 23 Hauger/Popovic, No. 28 Jansen/Manasse, No. 46 Nelson/Starr and No. 65 Jansen/Starr all hold slots in the Oracle/ITA rankings. This will be the second time this season that the Trojans have faced the Golden Bears with their last encounter occurring on Feb. 25 as USC lost 6-1 up in Berkeley, Calif. The Trojans hold a 40-35 lead over the California Golden Bears all-time.

    The No. 14 Cardinal are 7-1 on the season. Stanford boats an impressive six singles players in the national rankings in No. 13 Melissa Lord, No. 36 Caroline Doyle, No. 46 Emma Higuchi, No. 67 Emily Arbuthnott, No. 69 Taylor Davidson and No. 73 Caroline Lampl. Only one duo for the Cardinal is ranked, No. 29 Doyle/Lord. USC trails 22-64 all-time against Stanford, with their last match resulting in a 4-2 loss in the Pac-12 Championship match on April 20, 2016.

    Saturday's match against Stanford will be aired on Pac-12 LA and Pac-12 Bay Area with Brian Webber and Corina Moriaru on the call.

    The Women of Troy were victorious in a massive 5-2 upset over a very tough No. 4 Michigan squad last Friday (March 3) in Marks Stadium. With this win, USC improved to 4-3 on the season.

    It was a beautiful day for tennis in Los Angeles. The Michigan Wolverines had spent the week in Southern California on their spring break trip and had practiced here to adjust to playing outdoors. This was the first match this season that Michigan competed outside.

    The Wolverines took a quick lead as USC's Katz/Westby were bested by the No. 1 duo in the county in Fahey/Najarian 6-1 on court one. Shortly thereafter, Michigan's Minor/Ruder-Hook defeated Trojan tandem Failla/Valdes 6-2 on court two. This win gave Michigan the doubles point and a 1-0 advantage entering singles.

    Although the Trojans were down, they exemplified the USC motto and continued to fight on. On court six, USC's Sydney Van Alphen put the Trojans on the board with her 6-0, 6-3 win over Michigan's Kara Hall. The Wolverines responded with a singles win of their own with Mira Ruder-Hook topping USC's Angela Kulikov 6-3, 6-1 on court five to push Michigan ahead 2-1.

    Court three was a battle from the start. USC's Madison Westby and Alex Najarian were locked in a close back-and-forth. After the first set reached 6-6, a tiebreak ensued. Westby powered through to win a close 7-6 (6) first set. She claimed the second set over Najarian 6-4 to tie up the overall score at 2-2.

    Fired up by the loud crowd at Marks Stadium, the Women of Troy continued to fight. The crowd was consumed by an epic battle on court two. USC's Jessica Failla took Michigan's Brienne Minor to two tiebreaking sets where she came out victorious 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5). Failla's win pushed the Trojans ahead for the first time in the match to 3-2.

    The fans at Marks Stadium turned their attention to court four where USC's Rianna Valdes and Michigan's Chiara Lommer were locked in a third set. After winning the first set 6-3, Valdes dropped the second set 6-4 to Lommer. Valdes surged ahead and won the third set 6-4 to clinch the match for the Women of Troy.

    Court one was the final court in play. After losing the first set 6-4 to Michigan's Kate Fahey, USC's Gabby Smith broke serve at 6-5 to win the second set 7-5. Her momentum carried over to the third set where she won 6-2 to close out the afternoon.

    Now entering his 22nd season at Troy, USC women's tennis head coach Richard Gallien has strung together 20 straight NCAA appearances for his Women of Troy, 19 top-20 team rankings, three trips to the NCAA Semifinals and seven to the NCAA Quarterfinals. Under Gallien's watch, USC has finished in the top-20 for the past 18 years, and has 11 top-10 finishes in that span. Since 2005, four Women of Troy have been named conference Player of the Year, and Trojan doubles teams have been honored as Doubles Team of the Year three times.

    A five-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year and four-time ITA Region Coach of the Year -- having swept those awards in 2015 -- Gallien has compiled a 367-144 (.718) overall record at USC while holding a career record of 429-168 (.719) in his 23 seasons as a head coach, including three years with the Pepperdine men's program [Due to NCAA penalty, 7 wins left undecided and 1 win became a loss; Original USC record: 375-143 (.724) and original career total: 437-167 (.724)].

    USC associate head coach West Nott enters his 10th season at USC, honored as the ITA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year with the Women of Troy in 2009 and 2015. He came to Troy after serving as a volunteer assistant with the Washington men's program, following a successful collegiate playing career at Georgia Tech.

    Former USC ITA All-American and NCAA Women of the Year Finalist Zoë Scandalis will return to Troy as a volunteer assistant coach for the Trojans, head coach Richard Gallien has announced. The former Pac-12 Tom Hansen Conference Medal winner will work alongside Gallien and associate head coach West Nott.

    "We are really excited to have Zoë Scandalis joining us this season," said Gallien. "Zoë is a tireless worker, loyal to our program and passionate about our current team. I feel like I'm always continuing to learn, so I look forward to getting Zoë's perspective so I too can better help our team. Zoë may be young, but she is an old soul, and has wisdom beyond her years. We are certainly looking forward to working with her each and every day."

    While at USC, Scandalis had a decorated list of accomplishments both on and off the court. She was a two-time ITA All-American, a two-time All-Pac-12 first team selection and a two-time All-Pac-12 second team honoree. She helped her teams to two NCAA Semifinal appearances, was selected as the 2014-15 team captain, was awarded the 2014 Female Trojan of the Year and was named the 2012 ITA National Player to Watch as a freshman. She set the record for Pac-12 Player of the Week honors as she collected six awards throughout her career. Scandalis was ranked at high as No. 7 in the nation in both singles and doubles, and went 108-48 in singles and 103-53 in doubles during her time at Troy.

    Off the court, Scandalis was the winner of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. She was the 53rd Trojan recipient of this scholarship and the first women's tennis player to earn the award. She also was a three-time Pac-12 All-Academic first team honoree and a 2014 Capital One Academic All-District team selection. In addition Scandalis was a 2014-15 Pac-12 Tom Hansen Conference Medal recipient. This awarded is issued to the top male and female senior student-athlete at each Pac-12 institution. The award recognizes the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership.

    Upon graduation, Scandalis played professionally on the ITF Professional Tennis Circuit. Last year, she took a break from the professional tour to return home to fulfill a dream of applying to be a Rhodes Scholar. Late in 2016, Scandalis was selected as a Rhodes Scholar Finalist.

    The USC women's tennis team had its NCAA path come to a close in Malibu as the No. 20 Trojans fell to No. 8 seeded host Pepperdine 4-2 in the NCAA Second Round. The loss wrapped up the Trojans' 2016 season with a 13-6 overall record, having reached the NCAA Tournament for the 25th consecutive year and coming off a runner-up finish in the Pac-12 Conference race. The USC women have recorded a 72-33 all-time record in the NCAA Tournament and have made a remarkable 25 straight appearances, including three NCAA Semifinal trips in the last 11 seasons. 2016 senior Giuliana Olmos and her partner former sophomore Gabby Smith finished out their 2016 campaign ranked No. 6 in the nation in doubles, garnering All-American status for the two Women of Troy. They would go on to climb as high as No. 4 in the national doubles rankings, and earned a place in the NCAA Doubles Championships as a 5-8 seed. The duo compiled a 19-9 record together overall, and went 10-5 in dual matches along with a 4-0 mark in Pac-12 play.