USC hits the road to face San Diego

On the heels of a three-win week, senior Maria Sanchez and the rest of the USC women’s tennis team hit the road against in-state rival San Diego today.

Behind their recent success, which include victories against USF, Texas, and San Diego State, the Women of Troy (6-1) have garnered national attention.

Sanchez not only was awarded her fourth career Pac-10 Player of the Week award, but she was voted the nation’s top singles player.

She currently has a 15-match win streak, and holds a 20-1 overall singles record.

Despite sometimes playing in Sanchez’s shadow, sophomore Danielle Lao has continued to ride the momentum from her ITA Southwest Regional Singles Championship last fall (where she beat Sanchez in the finals) and carved out a name for herself, as her No. 25 singles rankings reflect.

USC coach Richard Gallien’s group sits at a well-deserved No. 17 in the latest ITA Rankings, as they look to improve on its 6-1 record against the No. 27 Toreros.

Coming of a 7-0 drubbing of UC Irvine, San Diego (5-2) is led by singles ace Stephanie Hoffpauir, who sits at No. 66 in the nation.

Even though USC may have a plethora of talent among its top players, there is no questioning the overall excellence that the entire team has enjoyed so far this year.

Alison Ramos and Valeria Pulido has combined to form a devastating doubles’ duo that currently ranks 11th in the nation with a 16-5 record.

While Ramos has struggled in singles play recently, she remains a serviceable player and one who has the trust of  Gallien because of her experience and tenacity.

“It’s just the nature of tennis,” Gallien said of Ramos’ recent struggles, “She’s had some heartbreaking losses and she caught some bad luck, but she’ll be fine.”

Pulido, on the other hand, has been a dominant force, winning her last seven singles matches in fine fashion.

Unheralded freshman Kaitlyn Christian, who also teams with Sanchez in doubles’ matches, has provided a rock solid presence at the No. 4 spot in singles, racking up a 15-5 record on the year. Her three-set win against UT’s Juliana Gajic displayed her ability to battle back from adversity.

With a road battle against arch-rival UCLA looming ahead, the Women of Troy shouldn’t take this match against San Diego lightly. Instead, Sanchez and Co. should use Friday as a tune-up to iron out any potential flaws and to prepare for their upcoming Pac-10 play.