The accolades are starting to mount for USC senior Maria Sanchez.
On the heels of her fourth career Pac-10 Player of the Week award, Sanchez now stands as the nation’s top women’s singles player. This is the first time a USC women’s tennis player has held the post since Amanda Fink in 2006.
Rising only as high as the second slot her junior season, this announcement marked Sanchez’s debut in the No. 1 spot.
After beating Aeriel Ellis, the nation’s No. 8-ranked player, Sunday, Sanchez has now strung together 15 consecutive singles match victories, including four wins over top-10 opponents. As the anchor for No. 17 USC, Sanchez has enjoyed consistent success despite regularly matching up against the opponent’s top player.
Sanchez’s last defeat came at the hands of fellow teammate, and budding star, Danielle Lao, in the ITA Southwest Regional Championship match last fall.
Sanchez’s new rankings shine some much-needed light on USC as a dark horse to compete among the nation’s elite tennis programs come the NCAA championships in May. After only reaching the quarterfinals last season, Sanchez should be looking to compete for an NCAA title this year, considering her torrid start to this season.
As a senior, Sanchez has begun to cement her legacy in Trojan athletics. With an upstart group behind her, contending for a national championship is still a realistic goal for the Women of Troy.