USC nabs two victories over weekend

Despite a slow start against the likes of Washington and UCLA recently, the USC women’s tennis team wasted no time in putting down Fresno St. on Thursday, then beating Pepperdine on the road Saturday.

“We played really well in stretches this weekend, especially against a good Pepperdine team,” said USC coach Richard Gallien. “[Pepperdine] played us really hard and we stuck it to them.”

In Malibu, the Women of Troy (10-2) continued their recent string of success with a decisive 5-1 win over the No. 30 Waves.

In what seemed to be the theme this weekend, USC started strong out of the gate, garnering victories at the top early and often, with quick wins by the No. 2 Sanchez and No. 18 sophomore Danielle Lao.

Sanchez has been dominant of late, especially in the singles department, and neither Marianne Jordan of Fresno State nor Pepperdine’s Arianna Colffer could slow her down.

Now at 25-1 overall, the senior has not only provided an automatic win for this season, but she has also helped groom Christian during their time playing doubles’ together.

Christian pulled eked out a victory against Pepperdine’s Ale Granillo with a 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 (10-8) win.

Now entrenched in the third slot, she will be relied upon to be a strong, consistent presence as the competition gets stiffer.

“[Kaitlyn] is a gamer,” Gallien said. “She plays so well and just continues to get stronger. It was a luxury to start her early, but now we need her against some of these other higher girls [No. 3s] even though she banged.”

Lao rebounded from a singles loss against Washington to pick up two victories, edging out Anamika Bhargava of Pepperdine 6-4, 6-2 and Fresno State’s Laura Pola 6-1, 6-2.

“Danielle is a tough trooper and she’s been playing hurt for awhile now,” Gallien said. “[Bhargava] has been Pepperdine’s No. 1 the last two years and it was good for Danielle to come out and beat her solidly.”

With sophomore Valeria Pulido out indefinitely with a stress reactor in her ankle, and without a timetable to return, junior Alison Ramos and senior Cristala Andrews each moved up a spot to No. 4 and No. 5 singles as senior Lyndsay Kinstler slid into the sixth spot.

Andrews, who has beaten up on lesser competition on court six this season, has now won two matches in a row, despite a previous 0-3 mark at the No. 5 spot in singles play before the weekend.

Facing an overmatched Bulldogs squad, USC rode the momentum from winning the doubles point, capped off by an 8-7 tiebreaker win by senior Maria Sanchez and freshman Kaitlyn Christian over Melissa McQueen/Marlanne Jodin, to win all but one singles match on the day and finish with a 6-1 victory.

This week, USC hosts a pair of home matches starting with Syracuse at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15, before facing Arizona State at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16.