USC notches hard-fought victory against Washington

Coming off of a tough loss to UCLA on Tuesday, the USC women’s tennis team battled back from an early hole to beat Washington soundly 6-1, earning them its first Pac-10 win.

“I give [Washington] a lot of credit,” said USC coach Richard Gallien. “They won the four first singles sets [after a 3-0 defeat in doubles], and we weren’t laughing and joking when we headed in to halftime.”

Despite what the score indicates, the Women of Troy (8-2, 1-0) were tested throughout the match.

In a rare sign of weakness, senior Maria Sanchez was defeated by Washington’s Denise Dy in the first set, 6-2. Dy, the nation’s No. 6-ranked player, had Sanchez on her heels throughout the entire match.

Despite the setback, Sanchez, the nation’s No. 2 player, fought back using her dominant serve to swing the momentum back in her favor.

Sanchez ultimately put away the match, which was punctuated by an ace on the game-winning point.

“Heading into the match we knew [Washington] can play with anyone in the country at No. 1 and No. 2,” Gallien said. “[Dy] is very good and is easily one of the nation’s top players.”

Sanchez would also win her doubles match along with freshman Kaitlyn Christian against doubles pair Dy and Chan 8-7 (3). The No. 20-ranked Christian and Sanchez duo came back after being down 1-6 earlier in the match.

“I love playing with Maria,” Christian said. “She’s a banger and I love to move and be aggressive at the net so we complement each other so well out there.”

Christian bounced back from a loss in Westwood with a resounding 6-3, 6-2 defeating Samantha Smith in the third singles match.

“She was mentally very strong and she was just on it today,” Gallien said.

Junior Alison Ramos broke out of her singles’ slump after her comeback victory against Aleksandra Krsljanin 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-4) in the No. 5 slot.

After enduring a series of heart-breaking losses that included two tie-breaker losses, it as good to see Ramos win in such climactic fashion, since she’ll be counted on in Pac-10 play and beyond.

On the four court, sophomore Valeria Pulido picked up a heavyhearted victory 3-6, 5-2 after the Huskies’ Andjela Nemcevic had to retire due to an apparent leg injury midway through the second set.

After clawing back from 0-4 to build some momentum for the second set, Pulido seemed to have the match in hand before Nemcevic was beset with the injury.

Junior Danielle Lao, ranked No. 18, lost the final match of the day on court two in a gut-wrenching manner 7-6 (2), 7-6 (6) to No. 27 Venise Chan. Lao took hold of the second set going up 6-5, but both mental and physical fatigue seemed to get the best of her as Chan would take the final three games.

Senior Cristala Andrews finished off Washington’s Vanja Radunovic 6-1, 6-1 to open up the winning on the USC side in the singles department.

Up next for the Women of Troy is a match against Pepperdine in Malibu on Saturday, March 12 at noon.