No. 16 Seed USC Women Prep For Opening Rounds of NCAA Action

    The Women of Troy start their NCAA campaign at home this week.

    May 6, 2014

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    The USC women's tennis team rolls into its 23rd consecutive NCAA appearance as the No. 16 team in the bracket, beginning its 2014 campaign from home as host of the NCAA First and Second Rounds this week. The Women of Troy (16-7) welcome Idaho, Fresno State and Michigan to Marks Stadium for action running May 9-10. On Friday (May 9) action begins with an 11 a.m. matchup between Fresno State (16-8) and Michigan (21-4) before USC faces off against Idaho (19-5) at 2 p.m. The winners will meet in the NCAA Second Round clash at 3 p.m. on Saturday (May 10) to fight for the right to advance onward to the NCAA Round of 16 and beyond, held this year at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., from May 15-20.


    This is USC's 23rd straight NCAA appearance and 32nd overall trip, holding a 65-30 all-time record in the tourney. USC has won seven national championships in all, including NCAA champion titles in 1983 and 1985 after the NCAA began its women's tennis championships in 1982. Seeded No. 16 in this year's draw, the Women of Troy are looking to improve on last year's run to the NCAA Round of 16. The USC women won NCAA titles in 1983 and 1985, with its most recent best finish an NCAA Semifinal trip in 2006. In 2013, USC was a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, capturing 4-0 wins over Sacramento State and UC Irvine in the first two rounds at home to move on to the Round of 16 in Urbana, Ill. There, USC tangled with Pac-12 rival Stanford, which managed a tight 4-3 upset of the Trojans. The Cardinal would go on to win it all as the 2013 NCAA champs. USC finished the year with a 23-3 overall record.

    Ranked No. 15 in the nation and holding a 16-7 overall record, the USC women are coming off a powerful run at the Pac-12 Individual Championships, boasting the 2014 Pac-12 Doubles Champions in Kaitlyn Christian and Giuliana Olmos as well as Pac-12 Singles finalist Zoë Scandalis. The No. 16 seeded Women of Troy are without the services of former #1 singles and doubles player Sabrina Santamaria, who suffered a season-ending injury midway through the spring. USC is still a force to reckon with, though. Four active singles players and three doubles teams are locked into the national rankings, led by #19 singles player Zoë Scandalis, who also stands at #11 in the nation in doubles with partner Giuliana Olmos. Olmos, too, has a spot in the singles rankings, last standing at #60 in the nation before her recent run to the Pac-12 Invitational singles crown. Freshman Zoë Katz also sits on both rankings lists, holding a #92 singles rank along with #16 in doubles with Brynn Boren. Junior Gabriella DeSimone has also worked her way into the singles rankings with a #118 rank entering the NCAA tournament. In all, USC boasts four ITA All-Americans on its 2014 roster in Boren, Christian, Santamaria and Scandalis.

    Idaho (19-5) is making its first trip to the NCAA Tournament, having secured an automatic berth as the winner of the WAC Tournament. The Vandals are coached by Jeff Beaman, who is in his eighth season as head coach at Idaho. Idaho has no players nationally ranked in singles or doubles. This will be the first-ever meeting between the Trojans and the Vandals.

    Michigan (21-4) is ranked No. 17 in the nation, having earned an at-large berth for its 13th straight NCAA appearance. Michigan has reached the Round of 16 the past five years. The Wolverines are coached by Ronni Bernstein, who is in her seventh season as head coach at Michigan. Michigan has four players nationally ranked in singles: #9 Emina Bektas, #25 Ronit Yurovsky, #117 Amy Zhu and #122 Sarah Lee. In doubles, Michigan has #18 Bolender/Bektas and #33 Yurovsky/Lee. USC is 1-1 all-time against Michigan, last falling 5-2 to the Wolverines in the 2011 NCAA Second Round in Ann Arbor, Mich. USC beat Michigan 9-0 in their first meeting in 1983.

    Fresno State (16-8) is ranked No. 68 in the nation as it makes its first NCAA appearance since 2011. The Bulldogs earned an automatic berth into this year's tournament as champions of the Mountain West Conference. Fresno State is coached by Ryan Stotland, who is in his second season as head coach of the Bulldogs. Fresno State has #72 Sophie Watts nationally ranked in singles and no ranked doubles teams. USC is 18-1 all-time against Fresno State after a 7-0 win last season at Marks Stadium. The Bulldogs' only win over the Trojans was a 5-4 decision in 1997.

    The Women of Troy opened 2014 ranked No. 5 in the nation, and the latest rankings have USC listed at No. 15 in the land as of May 1. The latest individual rankings of 2014 also went up on May 1, with five Women of Troy locked into the national singles scene and four Trojan doubles duos still on the list. Junior Sabrina Santamaria -- who has been sidelined for the season by injury -- still leads the charge in singles as the No. 17 player in the nation. Also locked in for USC are No. 19 Zoë Scandalis, No. 60 Giuliana Olmos, No. 93 Zoë Katz and No. 118 Gabriella DeSimone. USC's doubles teams are a daunting group. The Trojans boast four top-50 pairings. Junior duo Olmos and Zoë Scandalis lead the pack at No. 11 in the land this week, while the new Trojan pairing of senior transfer Boren and freshman Zoë Katz weigh in at No. 16. 2013 NCAA champs Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria rank No. 28 -- although their campaign has come to a close following Santamaria's season-ending injury -- while Christian and Olmos have popped into the rankings at No. 49 this week following their winning run to the Pac-12 Doubles Championship.

    PAC-12 PUNCH
    USC packed the podiums on the final day of action at the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, Calif. With representation in all four title matches played, the Women of Troy emerged with two new crowns. Giuliana Olmos began her day by winning the singles invitational championship, and wrapped the day's action as half of USC's 2014 Pac-12 Doubles Championship team. Olmos paired up with veteran doubles champ Kaitlyn Christian, who had won back-to-back doubles crowns the past two seasons with teammate Sabrina Santamaria. With Santamaria out with injury this season, Christian paired with Olmos for a shot at defending USC's 2012 and 2013 Pac-12 Doubles Championships. The pairing proved powerful. The duo surrendered no more than two games in each of their first three matches at this year's tourney, and they capped the run with a decisive championship victory over the top seeds. In the title match, Christian/Santamaria showed no fear against #9 ranked Ahn/Zhao of Stanford. The senior-junior Trojan tandem whipped up a 6-3, 6-3 win over the Cardinal team, netting the 2014 Pac-12 Doubles Championship for the Trojans -- Christian's third consecutive crown and the first for Olmos. Junior Zoë Scandalis, too, had a top seed to contend with in her own title match. The No. 6 seed in the Championship singles draw, Scandalis had already registered two big upset wins on her way into her first Pac-12 title match appearance. With victories over the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, Scandalis had a solid head of steam coming into the championship bout against top seed Jennifer Brady of UCLA. Scandalis got up a break on the Bruin in the first set, but a momentum shift saw Brady regain control. Scandalis would take a 6-4, 6-0 loss to Brady, finishing up a powerful trip to Ojai as the Pac-12 singles runner-up. Meanwhile, on the Invitational side of the Pac-12 draws, USC also came way with a title split. Olmos' successful day began in the Invitational singles final, where she had earned her place with a string of straight-set wins to put Olmos in the title match against Cal's Klara Fabikova. Olmos was the aggressor out of the gates, finding her winning touch and staying on pace for a 6-1, 6-2 victory that wrapped up the invitational title for the Trojan. Also featured as Invitational finalists were doubles duo Brynn Boren and Scandalis, who paired up to great success for a deep run in the Invitational doubles draw. The winning stretch would come to a close in the title match, however, as the Trojan duo took an 8-6 loss to ASU's Jump/Smith in the final the afternoon.

    World University Games silver medalist and one half of the defending NCAA Doubles Championship team, junior Sabrina Santamaria has been sidelined for the remainder of the season after suffering an ACL tear in her No. 1 singles match on March 2. Santamaria entered the 2013-14 season ranked No. 1 in the nation in singles and in doubles with senior teammate Kaitlyn Christian. A four-time ITA All-American, Santamaria was the 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year as a sophomore -- the same season that she and Christian became USC's first-ever NCAA doubles winners and completing the first collegiate tennis "Triple Crown" as doubles champs at the ITA All-American Championship, the ITA National Indoors Championship and the NCAA Tournament. The pair also has been named the Pac-12 Doubles Team of the Year the past two seasons. In her two-and-a-half seasons of work to date, Santamaria has gone 79-19 overall in singles and 83-18 in doubles.

    With the loss of Sabrina Santamaria to injury, the Trojans have had to reshuffle the deck in the doubles realm as they try out new pairings for the lineup. Kaitlyn Christian and Santamaria had played 10 dual matches together this season until the injury, going 8-2 at the No. 1 spot. Four new Trojan pairings have sat at the top spot since. At the No. 2 spot, six different duos have rotated through that slot. And five different pairs have been placed at No. 3. The more seasoned pairings in dual-match play outside of Christian/Santamaria have been #11 Giuliana Olmos & Zoë Scandalis (22-7 overall, 5-4 dual match) and #16 Brynn Boren & Zoë Katz (20-6, 8-2).

    USC has a strong set of Trojans ready to roll into the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, held May 21-26 in Athens, Ga. Two USC doubles duos are in the mix thanks to their top-20 national rankings. Juniors Giuliana Olmos and Zoë Scandalis have a spot in the doubles draw, along with the senior-freshman combo of Brynn Boren and Zoë Katz. In the singles scene, Scandalis has secured a place in that draw, with Olmos moving into the main draw after originally being listed as a first alternate. Olmos and Scandalis have been ranked in the nation's top-10 all season long, currently standing at #8 in the land with a 22-7 overall record together. Together this season, they were finalists at the ITA/Riviera All-American and reached the semifinals of the ITA National Indoor Championships and the ITA Southwest Regional Championships. They'd later pick up the doubles title at the Freeman Memorial. Their selection to the NCAA doubles draw brings up the first NCAA doubles competition for both players. It's Olmos' first-ever appearance in NCAA individual action. Boren and Katz have paired up to great success together this season. Toting a powerful 20-6 overall record together, the Trojan duo were finalists at the ITA Southwest Regional Championships and winners of the consolation title at the ITA National Indoor Championships in the fall. They currently hold a #19 ranking in the nation. Boren is no stranger to the NCAA scene by any means. The senior has made three previous trips, and was an NCAA Doubles Semifinalist last year as a junior at Tennessee before coming to USC. As a freshman with the Lady Vols, she reached the 2011 NCAA Doubles Round of 16. And she made three straight trips to the NCAA Singles Championships during her time at Tennessee. For freshman Katz, this kicks off her Trojan career with a great opportunity, as she and Boren begin their run along with their Trojan teammates in Athens later this month. For junior Scandalis, this journey into the 2014 NCAA Singles Championships marks the third straight visit to the tourney. As a freshman, she worked her way to ITA All-American honors in reaching the 2012 Round of 16. Last year, she made it to the Round of 32. This season, Scandalis turned heads with a powerful run to the Pac-12 Singles title match last weekend. Ranked #27 in the nation in singles, Scandalis dealt out several upsets on her way into the final. She holds a 21-9 overall record in singles play to date. Junior Olmos moved quickly into the main draw form her spot as an alternate. She ranks #70 in the land and also is coming off some great work in Ojai last weekend. Olmos won the Pac-12 Invitational singles championship, and partnered with teammate Kaitlyn Christian to win the 2014 Pac-12 Doubles Championship. In singles play this season, she leads the team in total wins as she holds a 23-9 overall singles record to date.

    USC junior Zoë Scandalis notched three Pac-12 Player of the Week selections this season. Her first statement trip came in nonconference action, as she finished off wins over Texas and Saint Mary's. After snagging a doubles win to help the Trojans sweep the doubles point against the Longhorns, Scandalis topped off a Trojan comeback with a comeback of her own in singles. She'd drop the first set in a tiebreaker against #77 Ratnika Batra, but Scandalis was all business in the next two sets en route to breaking the 3-3 tie in the match to get USC the 4-3 road win. That singles win followed another tense one against #69 Jamie Pawid of Saint Mary's days earlier. In that match, Scandalis pulled out a tiebreaker to wrap up a 6-1 USC victory over the Gaels. Her next two awards both came courtesy of back-to-back match-clinching singles wins for the Trojans in Pac-12 competition. through a winning conference weekend came on the road at Colorado and Utah. She'd pick up a March 18 selection for her efforts after having secured wins over Colorado's Julyette Steur and then over Utah's #125 Tereza Bekerova. Both wins locked the Trojans in with their fourth point of each match. Later, Scandalis duplicated that effort with two more clinchers to claim the Pac-12 Player of the Week pick on April 15. Playing again at the No. 1 singles spot, Scandalis secured straight-set wins -- both 7-5, 6-4 -- over ASU's #68 Stephanie Vlad and then over Arizona's #60 Lacey Smyth to secure victory for the Trojans and improve USC to 16-6 overall. Scandalis also paired with Kaitlyn Christian in No. 1 doubles for the weekend, having their first match together suspended when USC clinched the doubles point against ASU. The next day, Christian and Scandalis grabbed the first win of the day with an 8-2 victory over Arizona's Marker/Stubbe. Now ranked No. 19 in the nation in singles and No. 11 in doubles with teammate Giuliana Olmos, Scandalis has improved her overall singles record to 21-9 and is 13-4 in dual match singles play. She and Olmos are 22-7 overall together in doubles.

    USC freshman Zoë Katz was the first Trojan to be named Pac-12 Player of the Week this season after match-clinching victories in back-to-back matches along with doubles wins as well as USC topped #58 San Diego State 7-0 and upset #4 California 6-1. Against Pac-12 power Cal, Katz showed no fear as she and doubles teammate Brynn Boren fought back and pulled out the doubles point with a tense 9-8 (2) victory for an important boost against the higher ranked Bears. In singles, Katz stayed in high gear and pulled off the match-clinching upset of #84 Klara Fabikova on court five. Katz silenced Fabikova in the first set and continued to roll in the second for a 6-0, 6-4 win that sealed a 4-0 lead for the Trojans to bring home the win. On the road at San Diego State, Katz won again with Boren before taking in the clincher in singles on her dominating 6-0, 6-1 win on court five. Now ranked No. 92 in the nation in singles, Katz is 12-9 overall in singles and 20-6 in doubles with Boren as the nation's #16 ranked pair.

    The 2014 Trojans boast a strong group of returning talent, having graduated All-American Danielle Lao as well as Valeria Pulido from last year's squad. Reinforcements have come up big for the Women of Troy, however, with newcomers Brynn Boren and Zoë Katz having kicked off spring competition ranked as the nation's No. 3 doubles pair for 2014 -- their first season as Trojans. A second USC duo -- Giuliana Olmos and Zoë Scandalis -- also opened the year standing tall in the top-10 with a No. 7 doubles ranking. USC's defending NCAA doubles champions Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria began 2014 with a No. 33 ranking for 2014. All-American Santamaria also sat atop the USC women's singles ladder as the No. 13 ranked singles player in the nation. Junior Giuliana Olmos locked in at No. 60 in the first round of 2014 singles standings, joined in the top-100 by fellow Women of Troy Gabriella DeSimone at No. 80 and senior newcomer and All-American Brynn Boren at No. 96. Boren and Christian are USC's two standout seniors this season, both holding All-American honors during their careers. This past summer, several Women of Troy teamed up to win a bronze medal for Team USA at the World University Games. Santamaria claimed a silver medal in singles to help her teammates Christian, DeSimone and Ellie Yates bring home hardware from Russia. In all, USC boasts four ITA All-Americans on its 2014 roster in Boren, Christian, Santamaria and Scandalis. USC head coach Richard Gallien has also added transfer Paige Keating to the roster.

    The Women of Troy finished up the 2013 season as Pac-12 Champions and ranked No. 6 in the nation after a 23-3 mark that saw them reach the NCAA Round of 16, where USC was ousted by eventual national champ Stanford. Dynamic doubles duo Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria finished off a triple crown on the season when they added the 2013 NCAA Doubles Championship to the ITA/Riviera All-American and ITA National Indoor doubles crowns they had also picked up along the way.