This past weekend, No. 1 women’s tennis finished up their season at the NCAA Tournament with a loss in the semifinals to No. 4 Vanderbilt, 4-0. While the score was a sweep, the match was much closer. Vanderbilt went on to defeat No. 2 UCLA to take home the title.
To get to the semifinals, the Women of Troy kicked off tournament play at home, defeating both Youngstown State and Virginia Tech 4-0, respectively. They then headed off to Waco, Texas, defeating No. 16 Texas Tech 4-0 in the Round of 16 and advancing past No. 8 Baylor 4-1 in the quarterfinals.
En route to the semifinals, the Women of Troy showed why they were the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Dominating their opponents through the quarterfinals of the tournament, USC looked ready to take the championship.
In most games, the Women of Troy came out strong and decisively took the doubles point, but Vanderbilt started off the match with the point. A lightning delay stopped play for about 45 minutes.
When play resumed, the Commodores attacked quickly; they won four of the six first sets of singles play. USC put up a strong fight, but in the end, Vanderbilt came out on top.
While the team may have been upset in the semifinals, USC still had four individuals seniors Sabrina Santamaria and Zoe Scandalis, junior Giuliana Olmos and freshman Madison Westby — and two doubles pairs — sophomore Zoe Katz with Santamaria and Olmos with Scandalis — in the Round of 64.
Santamaria captured the 2013 NCAA Doubles Championship with partner Kaitlyn Christian, but she missed out on last year’s NCAA tournament after she suffered an ACL injury in the early part of the 2014 season. In her third time in the NCAA Singles play, Santamaria claimed her third set of ITA All-American honors for singles play. In her less-than-four season of competition, Santamaria was instrumental in her time at USC: she was a five-time ITA All-American, 2013 NCAA Doubles Champion and 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year.
In singles play, Scandalis lost in the Round of 64, Westby and Olmos lost in the Round of 32 and Santamaria lost in the Round of 16.
In doubles play, Katz and Santamaria lost in the Round of 32 while Olmos and Scandalis lost in the Round of 16.
In the Round of 64, Olmos had a rematch with Astra Sharma from Vanderbilt — the previous meeting had been the match-clinching victory for Vanderbilt. Olmos kicked it off with a 6-1 lead, but Sharma retired in the second set to send Olmos to the Round of 32. Olmos was the Women of Troy’s winningest singles player this season with a 38-13 overall record.
Though the Women of Troy did not take home the top prize from the NCAA Championships, they still had a successful season.
The team’s 25-3 record produced the most wins since the 1985 season, which is also the last time the Women of Troy entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed. The only difference between the two seasons is that the Women of Troy were the NCAA Champions back in 1985. This season marked the most wins for head coach Richard Gallien in his 20-year tenure with the program. USC was also undefeated at home this season.
In Pac-12 play, the Women of Troy went undefeated to capture the conference title. Their stellar play all season also earned them the top spot in the national rankings for the first time since 2003. The balanced combination of senior experience and freshmen talent came together to produce a memorable season for USC.
The program says goodbye to seniors Gabriella DeSimone and Casey Reede, as well as Santamaria and Scandalis. For DeSimone, Santamaria and Scandalis, the semifinal tournament appearance was their second, having reached that round in 2012 as freshmen.
With only four seniors leaving, there is still promise and potential for the Women of Troy to carry this season’s success onto the next.
Not only will the Women of Troy welcome a new freshmen class to carry on the program’s success, they will also welcome a new stadium for the 2016 season. The David X. Marks Tennis Stadium will be renovated to rival the top stadiums across the country and feature the Buntmann Family Tennis Center, which will welcome fans and display the rich history of success of USC tennis.