No. 2 USC Women Vie For Individual Titles At Pac-12 Championships

    Giuliana Olmos is the top seed in the Pac-12 singles draw!
    April 22, 2015

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    The No. 2 USC women's tennis team will look to add some individual titles to its 2015 Pac-12 Team Championship as the Women of Troy set up to vie for singles and doubles crowns this week. USC will join the rest of the conference in individual action at the 2015 Pac-12 Championships out in Ojai, Calif., for competition running April 23-26. Singles action begins Thursday (April 23) and runs through the 10 a.m. singles championship match on Sunday (April 26). Doubles play gets underway on Friday (April 24), running in stride with singles play until the doubles title match takes place on Sunday following the singles final. The first rounds will all be held at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club, and semifinals and finals will move to Libbey Park.





    The Women of Troy opened 2015 ranked No. 14 in the nation in the opening set of team rankings. On March 24, USC catapulted from its No. 7 spot to stand as the nation's No. 1 team, where it remained for three weeks until last week's round of rankings saw USC move to No. 2, where the Trojans sit once again this week (as of April 21). The last time the Women of Troy had been ranked as the top team in the land was back in 2003. Individually, a full set of six Trojans continue to stand strong in the latest set of individual rankings (released April 21). Still in the top-20 for the second time in her career, junior Giuliana Olmos leads the way at #14, just three spots off her career-best ranking. Below her are five more Trojans. Senior All-American Sabrina Santamaria now ranks #21 in the nation as she continues her comeback path since the former #1 was sidelined by a season-ending injury last year. Fellow senior All-American Zoë Scandalis is now at #45, with three USC freshmen rounding out the ranked crew: #55 Madison Westby, #84 Meredith Xepoleas and #85 Gabby Smith,. In doubles, USC has Olmos/Scandalis leading the pack at #20, followed closely by #22 Zoë Katz and Santamaria. Katz also remains ranked alongside teammate Gabriella DeSimone, now at #36.

    PAC-12 PLAN
    There will be a 32-player women's singles championship draw consisting of three players from each of the top 10 schools that sponsor women's tennis and two players from the 11th-place team, based on the regular-season standings. The 16-team women's doubles championship draw at the annual Pac-12 Tennis Tournament in Ojai, Calif, will have one doubles team from each of the 11 schools and five additional teams selected by the Draw Committee. There will also be invitational brackets for both singles and doubles, running separately from the championship draws. The Pac-12 women will play the first two rounds at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club, and then will play the semifinals and finals at Libbey Park. The women's singles championship match is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sunday at Libbey Park and will be followed by the doubles final. Sunday's singles championship will be broadcast live on all seven Pac-12 Networks and online at at 10 a.m. The women's doubles final will air tape-delayed at 7 p.m.

    Last year, USC had a wildly successful run through the Pac-12 Championships. There were Trojans playing in every title match on the final day. USC's doubles pair of Kaitlyn Christian and Giuliana Olmos claimed the 2014 Pac-12 Doubles Championship -- Christian's third consecutive Pac-12 doubles crown and Olmos' first. On the singles side, Zoë Scandalis worked her way into the singles title match, where she fell in the championship to UCLA's Jennifer Brady. On the invitational side of the coin, Olmos won the singles invitational title, while Brynn Boren and Scandalis reached the doubles final and fell to a pair from ASU. In all, USC had three players competing in the Pac-12 singles draw: No. 6 seed Scandalis and seniors Boren and Christian. In invitational singles, USC had Olmos, Gabriella DeSimone and Zoë Katz competing. In doubles, eventual champs Christian/Olmos were the only Trojan pair in the main draw. In invitational doubles, Boren/Scandalis were joined by DeSimone/Katz and Keating/Reede.

    AND NOW...
    For the 2015 edition, USC has a powerful load of Trojans slated for competition in Ojai. On the championship side, USC has top-seeded Giuliana Olmos, No. 3 seed Sabrina Santamaria and Zoë Scandalis lined up in the singles draw. In doubles, Olmos and Scandalis will pair up, as Olmos looks to claim a second straight doubles title, having won it last year with partner Kaitlyn Christian. Also in the draw are freshman duo Gabby Smith and Madison Westby. On the invitational singles side, USC has Smith, Westby, Gabriella DeSimone, Zoë Katz and Meredith Xepoleas reporting for duty in that draw, with two doubles pairs in the invitational mix: Smith/Westby and DeSimone/Katz. The first-round matchups and times for all USC competitors is below:

    Round of 32 - Thursday, April 23
    #14 [1] Giuliana Olmos (USC) vs. Cheng (UTAH) - 8 a.m.
    #21 Sabrina Santamaria (USC) vs. Luzina (WSU) - 11 a.m.
    #45 Zoë Scandalis (USC) vs. Bokhua (COLO) - 12:45 p.m.

    Round of 16 - Friday, April 24
    #20 Olmos/Scandalis (USC) vs. Steur/Tiefel (COLO) - 9 a.m.
    Smith/Westby (USC) vs. Austin/Preston (ARIZ) - 10:15 a.m.

    Round of 32 - Thursday, April 23
    #85 [3] Gabby Smith (USC) vs. Lin (CAL) - 9:30 a.m.
    #55 [1] Madison Westby (USC) vs. Najera-Salas (UTAH) - 8 a.m.
    #84 [2] Meredith Xepoleas (USC) vs. Kostas (STAN) - 12:45 p.m.
    Zoë Katz (USC) vs. Wojcik (COLO) - 11 a.m.
    Gabriella DeSimone (USC) vs. Pletcher (UTAH) - 11 a.m.

    Round of 16 - Friday, April 24
    #36 [4] DeSimone/Katz (USC) vs. Najera-Salas/Rosa (UTAH) - 10:15 a.m.

    USC finished off a perfect Pac-12 season in the perfect fashion, staging an impressive comeback rally against crosstown rival No. 5 UCLA for a 4-3 victory to wrap the regular season. The Women of Troy were trailing the Bruins 3-0 in the match before senior Zoë Scandalis got a point on the board for USC. That sparked a momentum shift that saw a set of Trojans deftly pull off heroic win after heroic win. The Trojans had fallen in the first sets on all three remaining courts, forced a third set on all three courts, and then trailed again in two of those third sets. Still, USC refused to give up. Freshman Meredith Xepoleas grabbed her 12th consecutive win, junior Giuliana Olmos pulled the match even next, and freshman Madison Westby sealed the deal after almost five hours of tennis action at Marks Stadium. The win was USC's 11th straight victory, putting the Trojans at 21-2 overall and giving them sole possession of the Pac-12 Championship with a perfect 10-0 finish. The day began with UCLA gripping a 1-0 lead after two doubles wins. Two hours of singles play saw the score still stuck at 1-0 UCLA. Soon after that mark, though, the Bruins broke through. An epic battle on court one between UCLA's #1 Robin Anderson and USC's #19 Sabrina Santamaria saw Anderson pull off the win with a 3-6, 0-6, 7-5 comeback to register a 2-0 lead for the Bruins. Meanwhile, #75 freshman Gabby Smith had fought back on court five, but lost ground against #64 Catherine Harrison in the third to fall 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 and see UCLA go up 3-0. On court three, USC's #61 Scandalis pulled away from #17 Chanelle Van Nguyen in the second-set tiebreaker to get a crucial point on the board with the 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory. Meanwhile, Westby was in a breaker of her own on court , needing to need to win it if USC had any chance of a comeback. Shaking off injury, Westby rallied, fought off match point, and forced a third set. Fellow freshman #79 Xepoleas was in dire straights in the second set against #91 Kaitlin Ray, down 4-5 before breaking back and rallying to win the second and force a third. There, she settled in, created space, and drummed up a second point for the Trojans with her 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 comeback victory to make it 3-2. Next, #13 Olmos was up against the defending Pac-12 singles champion, #49 Jennifer Brady, and also had to fight her way into a third set. Brady won the first game of the third, but Olmos would power up and claim the equalizer for USC on her 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Brady on court two. That put all eyes back on court four, where #78 Westby was trying to get the edge on #28 Kyle McPhillips. The Bruin junior led 2-1 in the third before Westby kicked into gear and won the next three games to take a lead she would not relinquish. She'd end up serving for the match and came through with the clincher, beating McPhillips 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-4 to secure USC's undefeated Pac-12 season with the 4-3 win over its rivals.

    There's only one member of the 30-win club so far among the Women of Troy, with junior Giuliana Olmos holding court with a team-best 33 singles wins to date. The 20-win crew, however, is now four Trojans strong. Freshman Gabby Smith leads that pack with 25 singles wins, while senior Zoë Scandalis and freshman Meredith Xepoleas each hold 24 wins, and freshman Madison Westby is next in line at 22 wins.

    After seeing her junior season come to a tragically early close with a torn ACL suffered in early March 2014, senior Sabrina Santamaria is finding her winning touch. In her first competition of the year, she stepped into the No. 6 singles slot and surrendered only a single game to her LMU opponent to start on her comeback path. The former top-ranked singles player, four-time ITA All-American, 2013 NCAA Doubles Champion and 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year opened the spring with eight straight singles wins. She'd take her first loss to then-#4 Maegan Manassee of Cal, but rebounded the very next day with an impressive comeback upset win over then-#3 Carol Zhao of Stanford. Santamaria returned to the national rankings for the first time this year on March 10, listed then at #36 in the land in singles. Now, the senior ranks #21 and holds a 13-3 overall record in singles to date. She's also back in the doubles rankings, now at #22 alongside partner Zoë Katz.

    USC boasts a trio of freshmen this season, and the three-pack has certainly helped to stack the Trojan roster with success. #85 Gabby Smith, #55 Madison Westby and #84 Meredith Xepoleas are all locked into the national rankings in singles. Smith has grabbed the most wins so far, boasting a 25-10 overall record with a perfect 8-0 mark in Pac-12 matches. Xepoleas and Westby aren't far behind, holding 24 and 22 respective singles wins apiece. In all, the Trojan freshmen are 71-26 overall in singles play to date and together they've clinched 12 matches from their singles spots this season. In doubles, Smith and Westby have paired up to great success. They hold a 14-7 overall record together. All three Trojan newcomers have won Pac-12 Player of the Week recognition for their respective heroics during the year.

    USC junior Giuliana Olmos pinned up two powerful performances in USC's victorious road trip through the Bay Area, and was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Feb. 23. It's the second such selection for Olmos, who was the third Trojan to earn the honor this season. Olmos all but clinched her award when she upset the nation's top-ranked singles player in a three-set comeback effort that clinched a 4-3 win for No. 11 USC over No. 5 California in Berkeley. Olmos' 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Cal's #1 Maegan Manasse secured a huge comeback win for the Trojans. The very next day, then-#22 Olmos pinned up a 6-0, 6-4 win to help lift USC into position for another comeback victory, taking the Trojans to a 2-1 lead on the Gaels en route to a final 5-2 victory. Olmos now holds a 33-10 overall singles record in her junior season, standing as the team's winningest singles player to date. She's also ranked #14 in the nation in singles.

    Madison Westby's two Pac-12 Player of the Week awards this season have both come after the freshman dealt out heroic clinching wins in 4-3 victories for the Trojans. In an early-season upset of No. 11 Vanderbilt, she pulled out a three-set comeback win over #68 Marie Casares to pull off the win there. She also had a doubles win in that one, helping USC to claim the first point of the match with an 8-6 win to secure that point. Her most recent award came after securing a comeback victory over crosstown rival UCLA to help USC finish undefeated in Pac-12 play and take the conference crown. In her No. 4 singles match, Westby faced match point in the second set, forced a second-set tiebreaker, fought off an injury sustained during that tiebreaker to win it, and then wrapped it all up with victory in the third set to clinch the match for the Trojans. Her 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-4 comeback upset win over UCLA's #28 Kyle McPhillips capped off a roaring come-from-behind victory for the Women of Troy, who had trailed 3-0 in the match before battling out four straight singles wins. Now ranked #55 in the land, the freshman is now 22-7 overall in singles with a 15-4 mark in dual matches.

    Freshman Meredith Xepoleas secured her first career Pac-12 Player of the Week award on March 23 after standing tall for the Women of Troy in huge Pac-12 wins over Cal and Stanford. Xepoleas came up big for the Women of Troy in the two top-10 wins to stay perfect in Pac-12 play. When USC's match against No. 3 California went down to the wire, all the pressure heaped on the freshman's shoulders. #83 Xepoleas was up to the challenge, taking down her Cal opponent Lynn Chi - who was ranked almost 50 places higher than her - with a 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 victory that clinched a huge upset win for No. 7 USC. The next day, Xepoleas came through again, this time in a smoother victory as she served up a 6-0, 6-1 win over Stanford's Lindsey Kostas to put USC up 3-0 against No. 10 Stanford en route to the Trojans' 6-1 victory over the Cardinal. Currently ranked #84 in the nation, Xepoleas has now won a team-best 12 straight singles matches to stand at 24-8 overall on the year.

    After a clutch performance at Pepperdine, Zoë Scandalis was been selected as the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Feb. 2. Now with six career selections as Pac-12 Player of the Week, she sets the conference record for most wins by a women's tennis player. Scandalis was the hero of the day in a true road battle. After combining forces with teammate Giuliana Olmos for a 6-4 doubles win that secured a 1-0 lead for the Trojans, Scandalis came through in the clutch with the clincher in singles. USC had trailed the host Waves 2-3 in the match before it locked up a 3-3 and all eyes turned to Scandalis' No. 2 singles match. Scandalis would fight off three match points - which would have handed the Trojans the team loss - and wound up digging out of a 2-5 hole to force a tiebreaker. In the breaker, Scandalis fought through to victory and won it all for her team in posting a 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (4) win over Pepperdine's Laura Gulbe. Currently ranked #45 in the nation, Scandalis now holds a 24-11 overall singles record and is 12-6 in dual matches.

    The USC women are coming off a strong fall campaign in which the Women of Troy swept the titles at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships, with Zoë Scandalis winning the singles crown and Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith combining forces for the doubles championship. Olmos played at the ITA National Indoors, reached the ITA Southwest Regional semifinals and won the Jack Kramer Club singles title in the fall. Also in the fall, Scandalis competed at the ITA National Indoor Championships and reached the Round of 16 at the ITA/Riviera All-American. In doubles, Olmos and Scandalis reached the semifinals of the ITA/Riviera All-American in the fall. Olmos also paired up powerfully with freshman Smith to win the ITA Southwest Regional and Jack Kramer Club championships.

    The USC women are coming off a strong fall campaign in which the Women of Troy swept the titles at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships, with Zoë Scandalis winning the singles crown and Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith combining forces for the doubles championship. Looking to build on last year's 18-8 finish and 7-3 mark in Pac-12 play, the USC women are looking to set their path toward what would be a 24th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2015. Last year, USC reached the NCAA Round of 16. The Trojans were without the services of former singles #1 and NCAA Doubles Champion Sabrina Santamaria for the majority of 2014 after the junior was sidelined by a knee injury. Now back in action for 2015, she and fellow senior Zoë Scandalis are USC's two ITA All-Americans on the roster. Scandalis reached the Pac-12 singles title match last year, while Giuliana Olmos won the Pac-12 doubles championship alongside now-graduated Kaitlyn Christian in 2014.

    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 will see its home revamped and renovated, bringing the venue up to date and in line with the impressive accomplishments of both programs. A ceremony to kickstart the renovation of Marks Stadium, which includes breaking ground on the Buntmann Family Tennis Center, was held on Feb. 24. Goals for this renovation are to elevate Marks Tennis Stadium to be on par with the best facilities in the country by creating an inviting, elegant, bright and safe training and competition environment. The Buntmann Family Tennis Center entrance and lobby will welcome 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 will support direct collaboration between coaches, staff and athletes on a daily basis. The teams will be able to utilize and enjoy brand-new suites with lockers, showers, team meeting rooms and lounges. Both teams will 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 will be added, a new elevator to the seating area will be 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 renovation is expected to be complete for Spring 2016.