Two foes on tap for USC

The USC women’s tennis team returns home this weekend to host a pair of Pac-10 rivals at Marks Stadium.

The No. 17 Women of Troy (11-7, 3-1) face off against No. 21 Arizona State (12-3, 4-1) first in a match today and then host No. 56 Arizona (12-6, 1-4) on Saturday.

Second shot · Freshman Valeria Pulido and the Women of Troy lost a close battle with Arizona State 4-3 earlier this season. The Sun Devils come to Marks Stadium on Friday with Pac-10 positioning at stake. - Geo Tu | Daily Trojan

The Women of Troy return to Los Angeles after a long weekend in the Bay Area, where rain stopped the Women of Troy from completing their match against then-No. 12 Stanford. With forecasted rain, the teams played singles first but rain postponed the doubles play with the singles tied 3-3. The deciding doubles point will be resumed only in the event that it becomes a determining factor in the 2010 Pac-10 title. USC lost to the then-No. 11 Cal 5-2 that weekend.

“This past weekend we played two of the best teams in the country, and both times we were extremely close to winning. This showed our potential while also giving us confidence by realizing how good we can be,” freshman Valeria Pulido said.

In the individual rankings released March 30, junior Maria Sanchez moved up in the singles ranks from No. 3 to No. 2. Sanchez holds a 15-2 singles record in dual-match play.

No. 26 sophomore Alison Ramos for USC saw her ranking come in just outside the nation’s top 25. She is followed closely by Women of Troy freshmen No. 30 Danielle Lao and No. 103 Pulido. In doubles, Lao and Sanchez hold the No. 46 ranking after their first week playing together, while junior Lyndsay Kinstler and Sanchez are ranked No. 62 and Pulido and Sanchez rank No. 63.

Meanwhile, ASU is fresh off an upset victory over California.

Even though USC is 42-20 all-time against ASU, the Sun Devils will bring some tough conference competition for the Women of Troy today.

ASU’s Nadia Abdala was named ASU’s Female Athlete of the Week after her performance against Cal, in which she captured a victory over Cal’s Kasia Siwosz. Abdala’s win allowed ASU to clinch the match and complete the upset. In addition, ASU has No. 80 Kelcy McKenna ranked in singles, but no ranked doubles duos.

USC played ASU last month in Tempe, Ariz., over spring break. Although USC lost 4-3 to the Sun Devils, the match was not a conference-counting match and therefore did not count toward either team’s Pac-10 record.

“By playing ASU again, and now at home, we feel that is our chance to really show ourselves,” Pulido said.

But these matches this weekend are conference matches, and if USC wants a chance at the Pac-10 title, it will need to win both. In addition, if USC wins, it will be able to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament; and considering its record this season is 8-3 at home, that would be very beneficial to them.

“Although we are no longer undefeated in the Pac-10 conference, it is still vital we bring our best to every match,” said Lao. “Of course we have to somewhat rely on the rest of the conference to not be undefeated; we still have to concentrate on what we can do if that does happen in order to give us the best shot and opportunity at the title.”

Today’s match against ASU will start at 1:30 p.m., while the match on Saturday against Arizona will begin at noon.