Giuliana Olmos & Gabby Smith Take On NCAA Women’s Individual Draws In Tulsa|
May 24, 2016
USC has a pair of Women of Troy in line for NCAA individual titles this week. Senior Giuliana Olmos has secured a place in the 2016 NCAA Singles draw and also enjoys a 5-8 seeding in doubles alongside her power partner Gabby Smith. The high seed for the Trojan duo will earn Olmos and Smith a set of ITA All-American honors in doubles. The two Trojans have settled into the courts at the Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla., and will kick off the NCAA Individual Championships tomorrow (May 25) for action running through May 30. For USC’s lone senior Olmos, this will be her third appearance in the NCAA Singles bracket. She’s looking to break through the Round of 32 barrier that she hit in 2014 and 2015. A 2015 ITA All-American in singles as a 9-16 seed that season, Olmos has pieced together an impressive senior season with the Women of Troy. Freshly inked for the second time on the All-Pac-12 First Team, Olmos holds a 20-12 overall singles record and is currently ranked #27 in the nation. Olmos and sophomore Smith have cultivated a powerful pairing this season, now ranked as the #6 doubles team in the land. This year’s NCAA Doubles appearance will be the first for Smith, who earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention this season, while Olmos has experience from last year’s journey to the NCAA Round of 16 alongside partner Zoë Scandalis. Olmos and Smith captured some serious hardware together earlier this season when the senior-sophomore duo won the Oracle/Masters Doubles Championship. Entering next week’s NCAA Team competition, Olmos and Smith boast a 19-8 overall record together. On Wednesday (May 25), Olmos will begin her NCAA Singles journey with a 12 p.m. CT Round of 64 meeting against 9-16 seeded Breaunna Addison of Texas. On Thursday (May 26), doubles play gets going with Olmos and Smith pairing up to take on Texas’ Addison/Wagland in the opening Round of 32.
ORACLE/ITA RANKINGS UPDATES
The Women of Troy — NCAA semifinalists in 2015 — started the new year right where they left off, as the No. 2 team in the land in the first team rankings of 2016. In the latest round of national rankings from May 5, USC (13-6) stands as the No. 20 team in the land. In the latest set of individual rankings (May 5), USC has three Trojans locked in with singles rankings. Senior Giuliana Olmos continues to lead the way, now ranked #27 in the nation. She’s followed by a pair of underclassmen — sophomore #117 Madison Westby and freshman #119 Rianna Valdes. In doubles, USC boasts the #6 pair in the land in Olmos and Gabby Smith,. Meanwhile, three other Trojan doubles pairing shine in the rankings: #60 Jessica Failla / Smith, #83 Zoë Katz / Westby, and #87 Failla / Valdes.
BY THE NUMBERS
USC’s winningest Trojan in the singles realm this season so far is freshman Jessica Failla, who was the first to crack the 20-win mark this season as she finished her first year as a Trojan with 23 singles victories. That has her just ahead of junior Zoë Katz’ and senior Giuliana Olmos’ 20 wins apiece, while sophomore Gabby Smith wound up on the cusp of the 20-win club in with 19 in the win column. In doubles, USC’s winningest pair is the powerful #6-ranked Olmos and Smith, who have tacked up 19 wins together so far this season.
OLMOS LEADS ON AND OFF THE COURT
This season, USC senior captain Giuliana Olmos became the first Trojan to earn the Southwest Region’s ITA/Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award since Anca Anastasiu won it in 2007. Olmos has undoubtedly made a name for herself at USC and in the collegiate tennis realm. Recently slotted on the All-Pac-12 First Team for the second time, Olmos has a spot in both the NCAA Singles and Doubles draws while standing tall as USC’s top player entering the Trojan’s 25th consecutive NCAA Team Championship appearance. On the court this year, Olmos has collected a 19-11 overall singles record while ranking #27 in the nation in singles. In doubles, she rose to her career best doubles ranking at #4 this season alongside partner Gabby Smith. The pair now ranks #6 in the land entering postseason play. Off the court, Olmos shines just as bright. The ITA/Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award winner founded the Rose Cup four years ago, and the now-annual event continues to draw support from USC Athletics in raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Olmos started the event in honor of her teammate’s mother, Rose, who was diagnosed with breast cancer during Olmos’ first year at USC. Rose has since beaten the disease, but the event lives on thanks to the care and leadership of Olmos. Two weeks ago, Olmos became the first member of her family to graduate from a U.S. university. Throughout her four years at USC, Olmos has made a significant impact in her ability to connect with her teammates, coaches and throughout the USC athletic department, all contributing to her well-deserved honor as the ITA Southwest Region’s Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award.
SOLID SENIOR STATUS
USC’s lone senior this season is the talented top gun Giuliana Olmos, the Trojans’ only ITA All-American on the roster and a true veteran for USC. Her list of accolades continues to grow. A 2014 Pac-12 Doubles Champion with then-senior Kaitlyn Christian, Olmos would also earn All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and reach the NCAA Singles and Doubles Rounds of 32 in her sophomore season. As a junior, Olmos won the ITA Southwest Regional Doubles Championship with partner Gabby Smith and went on to reach the Pac-12 singles semifinals, earned a place on the All-Pac-12 First Team and worked her way into the NCAA Singles Round of 32 as a 9-16 seed and to the NCAA Doubles Round of 16. Now a senior captain for the Women of Troy, Olmos continues to raise the bar as she’s stepped into the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles slots this season. Olmos opened the 2015-16 season with her highest career singles ranking at #10 in the land. Her highest career doubles rank was #4 in February 2014 alongside Zoë Scandalis.
Senior Giuliana Olmos and junior Zoë Katz are the veterans on the Trojan roster this season, with three sophomores and two freshmen joining them for the bulk of the playing time in 2016. Sophomores Gabby Smith, Madison Westby and Meredith Xepoleas got a lion’s share of experience as freshmen as they helped anchor USC’s run to a No. 1 ranking and a run to the NCAA Semifinals in 2015. This year, that trio of sophomores brings back their savvy in helping USC’s newcomers settle into the lineup. Freshmen Jessica Failla and Rianna Valdes are key components in the USC ladder, and both are ranked national singles rankings.
PAC-12 HONOR ROLL
USC senior Giuliana Olmos headlined the Trojan contingent on the 2016 All-Pac-12 honor roll this season, picking up her second set of first-team accolades as she enters the final stretch of her Trojan career. USC’s top gun was joined by three other Women of Troy on the list, with junior Zoë Katz and sophomores Gabby Smith and Madison Westby earning All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention for 2016. Senior standout Olmos earned her place on the All-Pac-12 First Team for the second straight season thanks in part to her powerful performances at the top spot in singles and doubles. Ranked as the #27 player in the nation in singles, Olmos also held her career-best doubles ranking as she and Gabby Smith were recently ranked #4 in the land. Together, the senior-sophomore duo won the Oracle/Masters Doubles Championship earlier this season and currently hold a 19-8 overall record together while standing ranked #6 in the nation. In singles, Olmos is 20-12 overall as she eyes a repeat trip to the NCAA Singles Championships this year. Olmos went 12-5 at the No. 1 spot in dual-match singles, including a 5-1 mark in Pac-12 clashes to help USC to a runner-up finish in the conference. The trio of Trojans on the All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention list all enjoy their first appearances on an all-conference team. After limited action at the start of the season due to injury, junior Zoë Katz stormed her way through a powerful spring with the Women of Troy. Katz led her fellow honorees in singles wins, boasting a 20-12 overall record to go with a perfect 7-0 mark in Pac-12 dual matches. She also paired up to great success with Madison Westby in doubles action, going 8-2 in all dual-match appearances to compile an 11-5 overall record together. While unranked in singles, Katz stands ranked #83 in doubles with Westby. Sophomores Westby and Smith also have snagged the first All-Pac-12 honors of their young Trojan careers. Gabby Smith — the other half of the now-#6-ranked 2015 Oracle/Masters Doubles Championship team with Olmos — also was ranked as high as No. 13 in doubles with freshman Jessica Failla early in the year. In singles, Smith opened the season ranked #59 in the land and went on to accumulate an 19-10 overall singles mark. Also locked in with her first All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention, after being selected Pac-12 Freshman of the Year last season, Madison Westby went 14-13 14 singles this season and ranks #117 in the nation in singles to go with her #81 spot in doubles with Katz.
ROSE CUP TO THE RESCUE!
Four years ago, USC women’s tennis decided it wanted to make a difference in the world. When then-junior Kaitlyn Christian’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, now-senior Giuliana Olmos was moved to find a way to help. Olmos and her teammates started the Rose Cup — named for Kaitlyn’s mother — to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Every fall since the event’s inception in 2012, USC student-athletes combine forces on the courts at Marks Stadium in support for the cause. Rose has since beaten her disease, and this season the Trojans dedicated their efforts in honor of Madison Westby’s aunt Pam, who is currently in her own fight with breast cancer. At the fourth annual edition of the Rose Cup — held in November 2015 — the $5,000 raised through the tournament, t-shirts sold and other donations went directly to Dr. Julie Lang’s research lab at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The 2015 Women of Troy had a banner season in earning their first #1 national ranking in over a decade and working their way to the NCAA Semifinals for the second time in four seasons. USC’s 25-3 final overall record marked the most wins by the program since USC won the NCAA title in 1985 and the most wins in head coach Richard Gallien’s 20-year tenure with the program. The Trojans also went undefeated in Pac-12 play in 2015 to win another conference title, and worked its way to the top of the national rankings for the first time since 2003. USC also was seeded No. 1 in the 2015 NCAA draw — the Trojans’ 24th consecutive trip to the tournament — entering the tourney as the top seed for the first time since 1985, when USC last won a national championship. In all, it was an outstanding season for the Women of Troy, who were a balanced mix of veteran strength and freshman talent. For seniors Gabriella DeSimone, Sabrina Santamaria and Zoë Scandalis, the year marked their second NCAA Semifinal appearance, having reached that round as freshmen in 2012. Santamaria and junior Giuliana Olmos both picked up ITA All-American honors at the close of the season. Scandalis would go on to earn high honors as a top-9 finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year awards. •