Christian and Santamaria secure doubles title
USC junior Kaitlyn Christian and sophomore Sabrina Santamaria notched their third major doubles championship together after claiming the Rivera/ITA All-American Doubles championship for the first time in USC women‚Äôs tennis history.
The No. 1 pair in the ITA rankings took down Duke‚Äôs Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar in the finals 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3 at the Riviera Tennis Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. on Oct. 7.
After a back-and-forth battle in the first two sets, Christian and Santamaria found themselves tied with the Duke team that had upset No. 3 seed California.
‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt take them lightly,‚ÄĚ Christian said. ‚ÄúWe both know them from juniors. We respected them and went out there and played our own game.‚ÄĚ
Christian and Santamaria pulled ahead to a quick 4-2 lead in the third set and finished off Capra and Mar to claim yet another major doubles crown.
‚ÄúThe biggest thing was reenergizing ourselves and regrouping,‚ÄĚ Santamaria said. ‚ÄúJust telling ourselves to play one percent better and that we would get them in the third set.‚ÄĚ Before the finals, Christian and Santamaria cruised through three rounds of play after a first round bye.
After defeating a pair from Oklahoma State and another from Illinois both ‚ÄĒ to the tune of 8-4 ‚ÄĒ Christian and Santamaria then ousted No. 4-seed, UCLA‚Äôs Robin Anderson and Skylar Morton 6-2, 6-2, in the semifinals.
‚ÄúIt was just a combination of us playing really well and concentrating really well,‚ÄĚ Santamaria said. ‚ÄúI think the energy was just the biggest factor for us.‚ÄĚ
Christian and Santamaria‚Äôs doubles accolades include the 2012 Pac-12 Doubles Championship and the 2011 ITA National Indoor Doubles Championship. The two finished the 2011-12 season ranked No. 3.
‚ÄúWe complement each other really well. We‚Äôve been playing together for seven years, so we really know each other‚Äôs game styles well,‚ÄĚ Christian said.
In the singles draw of the All-Americans, USC also saw two of its players reach the final four.
Sophomore Zo√ę Scandalis and senior Danielle Lao, ranked No. 7 and No. 11 in the nation, respectively, pushed to the semifinals on Oct. 6 but both fell in straight sets to their opponents.
Christian and Santamaria, who were named the USC Student-Athletes of the Week last week, entered this year ranked No. 1 in the Campbell/ITA Preseason Women‚Äôs Doubles rankings.
‚ÄúLast year, we lost in the first round in the NCAAs. We won indoors, and we play indoors again in two weeks so we want to recapture that title,‚ÄĚ Christian said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre hoping to get that title and the NCAA championship at the end of the year.‚ÄĚ
The two are also ranked in singles, with Santamaria standing at No. 8 and Christian at No. 54. The next round of rankings, which will include USC‚Äôs team ranking, will be released on Jan. 3.
USC will continue its preseason tournament schedule with the ITA Southwest Regionals, which begins on Thursday and runs through Monday, in San Diego, Calif.