Despite splitting up this weekend, the women’s tennis team found success in Palm Springs, Calif., and Las Vegas with junior Danielle Lao and freshman Zoe Scandalis each taking home the singles title in their respective tournament.
In Las Vegas at the Freeman Memorial, Scandalis ran the table to bring home the championship, taking down three top-70 players, including two top-10-ranked Pac-12 rivals.
The freshman dismantled UCLA’s Robin Anderson, the nation’s No. 8 singles player, in straight sets in the semifinals.
Once in the title game, Scandalis faced what could easily be the greatest challenge of her short USC career thus far in Stanford’s Mallory Burdette. Burdette was a doubles All-American and paired with Hilary Barte to win NCAA doubles championship last year. This year, Burdette was the country’s top-ranked singles player coming into this weekend.
Scandalis roared back from an early 6-7 defeat in the first set to steal the second game in a 7-6 (5) tiebreaker that seemed to sap all the energy out of Burdette. Scandalis finished off her Pac-12 rival with a 6-3 victory in the third set, defeating the top two seeds in the last two rounds.
On top of Scandalis’ day in the singles department, fellow freshman Sabrina Santamaria paired with sophomore Kaitlyn Christian, who bowed out before the quarterfinals of the singles bracket after a loss to Anderson, as the second seed in the Freeman Memorial. As the No. 3 doubles team in the country, the duo advanced to the final match after Christian exacted some revenge on a UCLA squad that featured Anderson, making their personal record even at 1-1 on the day.
In the finals, the UCLA pair of Pamela Montez and Courtney Dolehide, who ranks 23rd nationally, were too much for Christian and Santamaria, as the duo fell 8-4. Despite the loss, USC coach Richard Gallien has much to be excited about, especially with the high level of play he is getting from the younger team members.
The Women of Troy seemed to have rivaled Stanford’s number all day and besides Scandalis’ take down of the Cardinal’s two singles players, the team of Scandalis and junior Valeria Pulido upset the tandem of Burdette/Nicole Gibbs 8-3 in the quarterfinals.
In La Quinta, Calif., Lao took down Virginia’s Emily Frasor in straight sets, 7-6 (5), 6-0, to win the National Collegiate Tennis Classic. Lao not only defeated Fraser, but she beat Virginia’s Li Xi in a three-set thriller in the semifinal match.
In the doubles bracket, senior Alison Ramos paired with Lao to make it all the way to the final match only to fall 8-6 to the Virginia duo Fraser and Xi, who exacted some revenge on Lao after their loss in the singles tournament.
As the younger team members gain more game experience, the high expectations for this team are that much closer to being reached.