Stretched between two tournaments, the USC women’s tennis team came out of the weekend with plenty of momentum following their performances in Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
The Freeman Memorial Tennis Championships tournament in Las Vegas proved to be the more successful of the two trips, as sophomore Sabrina Santamaria took home the doubles title while paired with junior Kaitlyn Christian along with her own singles title.
The tournament featured conference rivals Stanford and UCLA, while UNLV and the University of North Carolina also were in the field.
Santamaria easily won the day as she and Christian showed why they are rated the nation’s best doubles pairing. The heralded duo notched an 8-4 win over UCLA’s tandem of Courtney Dolehide and Pamela Montez in the semifinals before defeating the UNC duo of Ashley Dai and Whitney Kay in the finals.
Seniors Danielle Lao and Valeria Pulido reached the semifinal round, but fell to the eventual runner-up team of Dai and Kay.
In the singles’ division, USC and UNC separated themselves from the rest of the tournament field, with each team represented by three girls in the quarterfinals.
Lao and Santamaria each made it out of the top six, but Christian did not advance to the semifinals.
From there, Santamaria and UNC’s Gina Suarez-Malaguti, who ranked No. 2 in the tournament and No. 11 nationally, squared off in the finals. Santamaria capped off her big day in a mild upset with a 6-0, 6-1 drubbing.
Back in California, the rest of the team almost matched their teammates’ performance in Las Vegas, but fell short once again to the crosstown rival Bruins.
With sophomore Zoe Scandalis — the only veteran and ranked player -— attending the tournament, the Women of Troy came in as the heavy underdogs, with UCLA bringing their top team to Palm Springs, Calif. Both the singles and doubles divisions ended up with a pair of USC and UCLA players in the semifinals.
In singles, No. 6 Robin Anderson of UCLA took down a pair of USC sophomores as she defeated sophomore Gabriella DeSimone before winning a hard-fought finals battle against sophomore Giuliana Olmos, who is in her first season with the program.
“For us in Palm Springs, Guiliana [Olmos] had match point on Robin Anderson — and remember this is her first college tournament,” coach USC coach Richard Gallien said. “She’s done a super job out of the gate and we couldn’t be happier to have her on the team.”
In the semifinal round for doubles, Anderson and Morton got the best of Olmos and freshman Ellie Yates while DeSimone and Scandalis defeated the UCLA tandem of Harrison and Ray.
The doubles’ final had Anderson and her partner Skylar Morton square off against a Women of Troy team composed of DeSimone and Scandalis. UCLA triumphed in the championship match with Anderson and Morton taking down DeSimone and Scandalis by an 8-6 margin.
With a team full of depth, it will be interesting to note the varying lineups that the Women of Troy trot out on a week-by-week basis.
“This year we will see more flexibility [in the lineup] — we have eight excellent players and try to move things around a little bit, we want everyone to be competing and playing hard,” Gallien said. “The whole thing is a sales job to help the girls understand the better our practices are and the more competitive our practice matches are, the better prepared we will be for the tough teams we’ll have to play.”
All in all, Gallien was pleased that the Women of Troy had a valuable experience against strong competition, especially for the newcomers and younger players.
“We have a really tough team and we’ll be able to compete with everyone on our schedule,” Gallien said. “Hopefully we are in a healthy place and playing our best tennis by the end of the year and, as far as where I see our team today, we have a bunch of battlers and we love our team.”