USC’s 13th-ranked women’s tennis team puts its undefeated conference record on the line this weekend in a trip to Northern California to take on two very tough Pac-12 opponents.
The Women of Troy (14-4, 5-0) will face No. 12 California (12-4, 5-0) today and No. 4 Stanford (13-0, 5-0) tomorrow.
USC has currently won five straight matches, and is coming off of a 4-0 sweep of Oregon and a 4-1 victory over Washington at home last weekend. The only point the Women of Troy ceded all weekend was a 6-0, 6-0 loss in singles by sophomore Paige Keating in her first home appearance at USC since transferring from Ole Miss.
The Women of Troy have been working out the kinks in their lineup since losing junior Sabrina Santamaria for the season with a torn ACL. Before her injury, Santamaria was a stalwart on the top courts in singles and doubles. Santamaria paired with senior Kaitlyn Christian in doubles, and the pair won the NCAA championship together last year.
USC head coach Richard Gallien has been playing Christian with fellow senior Brynn Boren on court one consistently, and the pair has won three straight matches. Junior Giuliana Olmos and freshman Zoë Katz have been slugging away on court two, while juniors Zoë Scandalis and Gabriella DeSimone have been playing together on court three.
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association hasn’t quite caught up with Santamaria’s injury, as she and Christian are still ranked No. 22 in the nation together despite not having competed together since March 2 at Texas. Scandalis and Olmos, who were 22-7 on the season together before being split up, are ranked No. 7 in the nation in doubles, and Boren and Katz are ranked No. 12.
In singles, Santamaria is still ranked No. 15 and Scandalis, who has assumed the top singles spot for USC in her teammate’s absence, sits at No. 26. Olmos is ranked No. 69 and Katz is ranked No. 90 to bring USC’s total ranked players tally to four in singles.
Meanwhile, undefeated Stanford boasts six ranked players, headlined by No. 2 Kristie Ahn. Ahn and Carol Zhao make up the 10th-ranked doubles team in the nation. Taylor Davidson and Ellen Tsay are ranked No. 36 together.
Cal’s Zsofi Susanyi is the highest-rated of five ranked singles players for the Golden Bears (No. 14), while Anett Schutting and Maegan Manasse lead the way in doubles with a No. 43 ranking.
Earlier this season, the Women of Troy pulled off an upset over the Bears in a nonconference matchup at Marks Stadium. USC was ranked No. 9 at the time and Cal held the No. 4 spot in the nation. Susanyi earned the only point of the day for the Bears with a 6-3, 6-2 win over USC’s Boren, and the rest of USC’s team dismantled its opponents.
The success USC experienced in that match is certainly encouraging, but the Women of Troy haven’t had a chance to face Stanford yet this season. Stanford is undefeated so far this season with seven sweeps out of its 13 wins, and only three teams (Rice, Saint Mary’s and California) have managed to put more than one on the board against the Cardinal.
If the Women of Troy are to repeat as Pac-12 champions, the team needs to have success on the road this weekend. UCLA will also be traveling to the Bay Area, visiting Stanford today and Cal tomorrow. All four teams are undefeated in conference play so far, so this weekend’s results will provide some separation at the top of the conference rankings.
USC’s match against California kicks off today at 1:30 p.m. in Berkeley, Calif. Saturday’s match against Stanford will begin at noon in Palo Alto, Calif.