USC Women's Tennis Opens NCAA Tournament Play on Friday|
May 10, 2017
ORACLE/ITA RANKINGS UPDATES
The Women of Troy enter the NCAA Tournament as the No. 25 team in the country. USC boasts two Trojans in the national singles rankings with junior Gabby Smith locking down the No. 25 spot and sophomore Jessica Failla claiming the No. 33 rank. In doubles, USC has three duos with national rankings: No. 43 Failla/Valdes, No. 57 Katz/Smtih and No. 89 Kulikov/Westby.
TROJANS TO DATE
The Women of Troy are led by sophomore Jessica Failla in the No. 1 position. The No. 33 ranked player is 21-7 overall on the season. Right behind her in the No. 2 slot is junior No. 25 Gabby Smith who remains a dominant force on the court. Smith, currently 11-0 in the No. 2 position, holds a 23-8 record on the season and is currently riding a four-match winning streak. Sophomore Rianna Valdes typically plays in the No. 3 position and is 11-11 on the season. Senior No. 122 Zoë Katz joins Failla and Smith in the 20-win club with a 20-13 record. Next junior Madison Westby leads USC with 24 wins on the season. Finally, freshman Angela Kulikov will be playing in her first ever NCAA Tournament as she wraps up the singles lineup in the No. 6 spot going 19-12 on the season.
The Denver Pioneers are 18-6 on the season and are coming off of their fourth-straight Summit League Championship. Denver went undefeated in conference and each of their victories were won in a shutout fashion. The Pioneers are led by Christian Thompson who is in her fourth season as the head coach. O’Loughlin/ Slattery hold down the No. 17 doubles national ranking as the only ranked Pioneers. USC is 1-0 all time against Denver with their last encounter occurring in 2015 as the Trojans defeated the Pioneers 4-0 during ITA Kick-Off Weekend at Marks Stadium.
The Quinnipiac Bobcats won their fourth-consecutive Metro Atlantic Conference Title and are 14-8 on the season. The Bobcats went 7-0 in conference play under the tutelage of Paula Miller who is in her third season as the women’s tennis head coach. USC has never played Quinnipiac in the history of the program.
SCOUTING TEXAS TECH
The No. 6 seed and host Texas Tech are 24-4 on the season entering the tournament. The Lady Raiders went 8-1 in conference while being coached by Todd Petty who is in his ninth season as the head coach. This year, they won the program’s first ever Big-12 Championship title. The Lady Raiders have two singles players in the national rankings: No. 9 Gabriela Talaba and No. 58 Felicity Maltby. In addition, Texas Tech has two tandems locking in national doubles rankings: No. 26 Dvorak/Federici and No. 69 Talaba/Maltby. USC is 2-0 all-time against Texas Tech with their last encounter resulting in a 9-0 victory in 1981 in Austin, Texas.
USC women's tennis will have two Women of Troy in the running for an NCAA individual title. Junior Gabby Smith and sophomore Jessica Failla have each secured placement in the 2017 NCAA Singles draw. The NCAA Individual Championships will take place in Athens, Ga. at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex from May 24-29. The Individual Championships will begin the day after the NCAA Team Championships conclude on May 23.
Gabby Smith, the No. 25 player in the nation will be making her NCAA Singles debut in Athens, Ga. Smith, currently riding a four-match winning streak, is 23-8 on the season. She has clinched two matches this year including the exciting 4-3 upset over crosstown rival UCLA. In addition, Smith has been named Pac-12 Player of the Week three times throughout the season. Her three awards make her the most decorated Pac-12 women's tennis player in regards to this honor in the 2017 season.
USC's Jessica Failla enters the tournament as the No. 33 player in the nation. This will also be Failla's first time competing in the NCAA singles action. She holds a 21-7 singles record, and out of the nine ranked opponents she has played this season, Failla has defeated six of them.
In addition, Failla and her doubles partner sophomore Rianna Valdes have been named as alternates for the 2017 NCAA Doubles draw. If a team chooses to withdraw from the doubles tournament, Failla/Valdes will have the opportunity to replace them and be in contention for the NCAA Doubles title. The No. 43 Trojan tandem is 13-8 on the season.
BY THE NUMBERS
Four Women of Troy have entered the 20-Win Club this season. Junior Madison Westby has collected 24 wins, while fellow junior Gabby Smith has earned 23 victories. Sophomore Jessica Failla has tallied 21 wins and most recently, senior Zoë Katz joined the group as she collected her 20th win at the Pac-12 Championships. Freshman Angela Kulikov is close behind with 19 wins and could join her teammates in the 20-Win Club this weekend.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR…AND THE YEAR BEFORE…
Last year, the Women of Troy entered the Tournament ranked No. 20 and defeated UNLV 4-0 in the first round of the tournament, but fell 4-2 to No. 8 seed and host Pepperdine in the 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.
In 2015, USC was the top-seeded team in the NCAA draw for the first time since 1985. That season, the Trojans reached the NCAA Semifinals, falling to eventual champion Vanderbilt. USC opened its 2015 Tournament run with 4-0 wins over Youngstown State, Virginia Tech and Texas Tech, then beat host Baylor 4-1 in the NCAA Quarterfinals before falling to Vanderbilt 4-1 in the semis to finish at 25-3 overall. It was USC’s third NCAA Semifinal appearance in 11 years.
The Trojans had a solid run in the 2017 Pac-12 Team Championships. The Women of Troy entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed and swept the No. 11 seed Washington State 4-0 to begin their run. In the Quarterfinals, USC upset the No. 3 seed Arizona State 4-3 to secure their place in the Semifinals. Another close match was in store for the Trojans in the semis, but USC fell to No. 2 seeded California 4-3 to end their pursuit of the Pac-12 title.
The No. 32 USC women’s tennis team upset the No. 22 UCLA Bruins 4-3 in a thrilling crosstown rivalry match in Westwood, Calif. on Saturday (April 22). This win improves the Trojans’ overall season record to 11-9 and their Pac-12 conference record to 6-4.
The afternoon began with doubles and the Women of Troy took the first win of the day as Failla/Valdes defeated No. 25 Hart/Fleming 6-0 on court one. UCLA claimed the next win as Shibahara/Wiley beat USC’s No. 69 Kulikov/Westby 6-2 on court three. The Bruins would leave doubles victorious as UCLA’s Andrews/Miller beat USC’s No. 37 Katz/Smith 6-4 to claim the doubles point.
The Bruins entered the singles portion of the competition with a 1-0 advantage. USC’s Madison Westby took charge as she beat UCLA’s Gabby Andrews 6-2, 6-3 on court five. Trojan Angela Kulikov took down Bruin Kristin Wiley 6-4, 6-2 on court six to earn USC another point. Kulikov’s win pushed the Trojans ahead 2-1 in the overall score.
USC’s Zoë Katz continued to roll with the Trojan momentum as she defeated UCLA’s Alaina Miller 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 on court four.
When the Bruins saw USC had taken a significant 3-1 lead, they kicked it into high gear. UCLA’s No. 121 Jada Hart beat USC’s Rianna Valdes 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 on court three to keep the Bruins in the match. Then, Bruin No. 3 Ena Shibahara snapped USC’s No. 46 Jessica Failla’s five-match winning streak by beating her with a tight score of 6-4, 7-6 (2).
As the match was now tied at 3-3, the final result would come down to the outcome on court two. USC’s No. 27 Gabby Smith and UCLA’s Terri Fleming were locked in a tight battle. After taking the first set 7-6 (4), Fleming lost to Smith in the second set as she took it with a 6-3 score. In the decisive third set, Smith kept her cool and while surrounded by her cheering teammates, won the third set 6-4 to clinch the match for Troy. After clinching for USC, Smith would go onto win her third Pac-12 Player of the Week award this season.
USC women’s tennis head coach Richard Gallien, a 5-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, announced on Friday, March 24 that he will end his 22-year tenure at the conclusion of the current 2017 season. “It has been a privilege to have coached so many brilliant young women in my 22 fantastic years at this remarkable university. All but two student-athletes who played for me received their degrees, something of which I am very proud.
“I look forward to coaching our team through the postseason and finishing strong. And in the future, I will always be rooting for all the teams at USC.”
During his USC career, each of Gallien’s teams advanced into the NCAA tourney, with 3 appearing in the semifinals and 5 others making it to the quarterfinals. Under his watch, USC has finished in the national Top 20 rankings 19 times, including 11 Top 10 placings. Four of his teams won the Pac-12 title and 8 others were league runners-up. Four of his players were named conference Player of the Year and three of his doubles teams were honored as the league’s Doubles Team of the Year (including 2013 NCAA doubles champs Sabrina Santamaria and Kaitlyn Christian).
Gallien, who began at USC in 1996, has an overall record of 391-160 (71.0%), not including 8 wins and a loss vacated due to NCAA penalty.