The USC women’s tennis team earned a trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships after upending both of their competitors this weekend.
No. 9 USC demolished the No. 35 Auburn Tigers 4-0 in a second-round matchup of the ITA Kick-off qualifiers at Marks Stadium on Saturday night. This triumph came after another 4-0 blowout by the Women of Troy on Friday against the No. 60 San Diego Toreros.
The Women of Troy improved to 4-0 on the year with the two wins.
It was relatively smooth sailing for USC as it polished off its opponents this weekend. First on Friday against San Diego, USC snagged its doubles point with two fairly quick wins and thereafter clobbered the Toreros in singles play.
The Women of Troy pocketed easy singles wins at the No. 4, 5 and 6 spots to claim the match. USC’s top-three seeded singles players were also in the lead when the match was clinched.
The next day, USC took on Auburn (which beat No. 28 LSU 4-0 on Friday) in the title match of the ITA Kick-off Weekend.
The Women of Troy were able to secure the early edge by taking the doubles point. At the No. 2 spot, freshman Danielle Lao and sophomore Alison Ramos of USC teamed up to tally in the first doubles win at 8-4.
Meanwhile at the No. 3 doubles, Auburn’s Plamena Kurteva and Paulina Schippers defeated USC’s junior Cristala Andrews and freshman Valeria Pulido 8-4. But it was only tied up for a moment, as USC’s No. 1 duo, juniors Lyndsay Kinstler and Maria Sanchez, pulled out an 8-3 win.
In singles, the Women of Troy displayed multiple occasions of stellar performances as they put the match away. Four Women of Troy opened up their singles matches with shutouts in the first set.
“It’s rare to jump out to such big leads in all of the [singles] matches,” USC coach Richard Gallien said.
To start the Women of Troy with their first singles win was nationally ranked No. 39 Ramos, who powered through her match 6-0, 6-1. USC junior Leyla Entekhabi beat her opponent in a similar fashion, 6-0, 6-1 at the No. 5 slot.
Up 3-0, the Women of Troy only needed one more singles victory to seal the deal.
In both singles matches, USC’s No. 8 Sanchez and No. 37 Pulido were neck and neck in closing out their respective opponents, as No. 18 Lao and Andrews were also nearing victory.
But it was Pulido who claimed the clincher point first, disposing of her opponent 6-0, 6-4, after coming back from trailing 1-4 in the second set to Auburn’s Daniela Vukadinovic. This left the remaining matches suspended with the remaining Trojans near victory.
This was the only scheduled match for the Women of Troy that was against an East Coast team.
“We played extremely well against such a tough Southeastern conference opponent, especially in singles,” Gallien added.
The Auburn matchup also began over an hour late because the LSU vs. San Diego consolation match ran long. The Women of Troy, used to playing in the daytime, had to play in unusual circumstances, 40-degree weather from 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
“We’re not used to playing so late in the evening so I liked the way the girls handled the adversity,” Gallien said.
But in the end, whether it be nighttime or daytime, the Women of Troy proved they can handle any kind of condition.
These two weekend wins secured a place for USC in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships set for Feb. 12-15 at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisc. Before making that trip, however, USC will stay at Marks Stadium to host Pepperdine on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.