Top-seeded Women of Troy Wind Up In Waco For Round of 16 And More

    The Women of Troy are the NCAA's top seeds for the first time since winning it all in 1985.
    May 12, 2015

    USC Women's Tennis NCAA Release Get Acrobat Reader


    Texas Tech
    April 3, 1981
    Austin, Tex.
    The tournament's top seeds will take their place in Waco, Texas, as one of the final 16 teams alive and well in the 2015 NCAA Championships. Once settled on the courts of Baylor's Hurd Tennis Center, the top-seeded Women of Troy (23-2) will open up against No. 16 seeded Texas Tech (21-6) in a 7 p.m. CT NCAA Round of 16 matchup on Friday (May 15). A win there would push the Trojans into the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time since 2012, with a 4 p.m. CT bout on the docket for Sunday (May 17). The Semifinals are set for 5 p.m. CT on Monday (May 18) with the NCAA Championship match held at 5 p.m. CT on Tuesday (May 19) --- all in Waco, Texas. Following the team title match, the Trojans will maneuver into individual action at the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, held May 20-25, also in Waco.


    This is USC's 24th straight NCAA appearance and 33rd overall trip, as the Trojans now hold a 69-31 all-time record in the tourney after posting two 4-0 victories in the 2015 NCAA First and Second Rounds last weekend. USC has won seven national championships in all, including NCAA titles in 1983 and 1985 after the NCAA began its women's tennis championships in 1982. Seed No. 1 in this year's draw, the Women of Troy are the top seeded team for the first time since 1985. The Trojans' most recent best finish was an NCAA Semifinal trip in 2006. In 2014, USC was a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, capturing a 4-0 win over Idaho and a 4-2 win over Michigan at Marks Stadium to advance to the Round of 16 in Athens, Ga. There, the Trojans were up against top-seeded host Georgia, which they pushed to the brink before falling 4-3 to end their NCAA journey and the 2014 season with an 18-8 overall record.

    The top-seeded USC women are coming off their second undefeated Pac-12 season in the past three years and have already locked in on their fourth 20-win season in 10 years. Currently 23-2 overall after beating Youngstown State and Virginia Tech both 4-0 last week in the opening rounds, the Women of Troy have worked their way to the top of the national rankings for the first time since 2003. Now gripping the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney, the USC women are in a strong position to make a deep run and contend for a national title. The Women of Troy were also a top seed in 1983 and 1985, having gone on to win the NCAA championship both those years. The well-balanced Women of Troy boast two All-Americans in seniors Sabrina Santamaria and Zoë Scandalis, pairing powerfully with an influx of ferocious freshman talent in Gabby Smith, Madison Westby and Meredith Xepoleas. Junior Giuliana Olmos, senior Gabriella DeSimone and sophomore Zoë Katz add even more experienced leadership and winning savvy for the Trojan cause. In all, USC has a full set of six ranked singles players: #14 Olmos, #24 Santamaria, #38 Scandalis, #57 Westby, #78 Smith and #79 Xepoleas. In doubles, USC is loaded up with #19 Olmos/Scandalis, #24 Katz/Santamaria and #38 DeSimone/Katz.

    There are now two members of the 30-win club so far among the Women of Troy, with junior Giuliana Olmos holding court with a team-best 37 singles wins to date. Riding a 19-match win streak, though, freshman Meredith Xepoleas has also broken through, now holding 31 singles wins as she gets settled into her first NCAA action. Behind that duo, the 20-win crew is currently three Trojans strong. Freshman Gabby Smith has collected 28 wins, just ahead of senior Zoë Scandalis' 27, while freshman Madison Westby has 23 wins to date.

    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 a brief move to No. 2. As they head into the NCAA Tournament, however, the Women of Troy are back locked in as the top-ranked team in the nation (as of May 1). The last season in which 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 May 1). 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 #24 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 #38, with three USC freshmen rounding out the ranked crew: #57 Madison Westby, #78 Gabby Smith and #79 Meredith Xepoleas. In doubles, USC has Olmos/Scandalis leading the pack at #19, followed closely by #24 Zoë Katz and Santamaria. Katz also remains ranked alongside teammate Gabriella DeSimone, now at #38.

    To go along with its top seed in the NCAA team draw, USC has loaded up five players into the 2015 NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships. Four singles players and two doubles teams are lined up for individual action out in Waco, Texas, for competition running May 20-25. Junior Giuliana Olmos will make her second appearance in the NCAA Singles Championships, having reached the Round of 32 last season, where she fell to the draw's top seed. Olmos has seriously upgraded her ranking for this year's effort, standing as the #14 singles player in the land and boasting the most singles wins on the team with her 36-11 overall record. This year, Olmos leads the pack as a 9-16 seed in the singles draw. Senior Sabrina Santamaria is back on the NCAA scene after being sidelined last season with injury. Ranked #24 in the nation in singles now, Santamaria holds a 14-4 overall singles record since returning to competition in January of this year. Santamaria is certainly experienced in postseason play. She was the No. 2 seed in the singles draw as a sophomore in 2013, when she reached the Round of 32 in singles and went on to win the doubles crown with teammate Kaitlyn Christian. As a freshman, Santamaria reached the NCAA Singles Quarterfinals in 2012, making this year's journey her third appearance in both NCAA singles and doubles. Senior Zoë Scandalis enters the postseason ranked #38 in the nation in singles, holding a 27-12 overall record. It's her fourth venture to the NCAA individual competition, having reached the singles Round of 16 as a freshman in 2012 and then reaching the Round of 32 in 2013 and 2014. A newcomer on the NCAA individual scene this season will be USC freshman Madison Westby, whose #57 national ranking has pulled her alongside her upperclassman teammates for a spot in the NCAA Singles draw. Westby has posted a 22-8 overall singles record to date and has been responsible for six match-clinching victories for the Women of Troy during dual-match play this year. In doubles action, Giuliana Olmos / Zoë Scandalis have been a top-25 team throughout the majority of the spring season, and are primed for their second trip together to the NCAA Doubles Championships. The duo enters the 2015 campaign ranked #19 in the nation and with a 15-7 overall record. They are looking to improve on last year's NCAA run, where the pair fell in the first round to the No. 4 seeded team in the draw. USC's tandem of Zoë Katz / Sabrina Santamaria have also spent their time in the top-25 this season, ever since breaking into the rankings in late March. Ever since teaming up for dual-match action, the duo has done well in accumulating a 10-3 record together as they now turn to make a run at the NCAA draw. Both players have experience on the NCAA doubles scene, albeit with different partners in past seasons. Last year, Katz paired with then-senior Brynn Boren to reach the NCAA Round of 16. Santamaria was sidelined with injury this time last year, but in 2013 she claimed the NCAA Doubles Championship alongside Christian during Santamaria's sophomore season. She also paired with Christian in the 2012 doubles tourney as a freshman.

    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 #24 and holds a 14-4 overall record in singles to date. She's also back in the doubles rankings, now at #24 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. #57 Madison Westby, #78 Gabby Smith and #79 Meredith Xepoleas are all locked into the national rankings in singles. Xepoleas has grabbed the most wins so far, boasting a 31-8 overall record. Smith isn't far behind, holding a 28-12 overall singles mark, with Westby at 23-9. In all, the Trojan freshmen are 82-29 overall in singles play to date and together they've clinched 14 matches from their singles spots this season. In doubles, Smith and Westby have paired up to great success. They hold a 15-8 overall record together. All three Trojan newcomers 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 37-11 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. She also had a doubles win in that one, helping USC to claim the first point of the match with an 8-6 win. The next 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 #57 in the land, the freshman is now 23-9 overall in singles with a 16-4 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 #79 in the nation, Xepoleas has now won a team-best 19 straight singles matches to stand at 31-8 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 #38 in the nation, Scandalis now holds a 27-12 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. •

    --------------------------------- Darcy Couch USC Assoc. Sports Information Director office) 213-740-3808 cell) 213-725-3447 fax) 213-740-7584 • • •