The 16th-ranked Women Of Troy upset No. 8 North Carolina and No. 17 Tennessee en route to their first semifinals appearance in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Indoor Championships since 2003 before falling to Pac-12 rival UCLA 4-0.
“This has been a great start and if someone had said in September that we’d be in the semis of the ITA National Indoors and back in top 10 at 7-1, I would obviously take that,” coach Richard Gallien said.
“But the good news for us is that we’re pretty damn good. The level of talent is higher than I thought it was going to be and the level of maturity is higher as well.”
Coming in as one of the lowest ranked teams in the tournament, USC (7-1) showed off the resiliency that Gallien has talked about this season after fighting back against North Carolina on Friday.
After losing the doubles’ point, the Women of Troy made up ground in singles with three straight wins by sophomore Kaitlyn Christian and freshmen Gabrielle DeSimone and Sabrina Santamaria.
Despite senior Alison Ramos dropping the next match to pull North Carolina within one point, junior Danielle Lao provided a much-needed boost with a match-clinching, comeback victory against No. 44 Zoe DeBruycker (5-7, 7-5, 6-4).
On Saturday, the Women of Troy faced off against the Tennessee squad, who, like USC, had scored an upset win the previous day against No. 5 Baylor.
For the second straight day, Coach Richard Gallien’s group failed to secure a point in the doubles’ round, despite a spirited effort by the No. 3 team of Christian/Santamaria, who fell to Pluskota/Williams 9-7.
Once singles rolled around, the Women of Troy erased any concerns brought on by their lost doubles point as the same quartet of winners from Friday emerged victorious Saturday as well.
Though the order for this match may have been different, the freshman pair of Santamaria and DeSimone started and ended the singles round, respectively, with Christian and Lao sandwiching wins in between those two games.
“What Sabrina and Kaitlyn did in singles got us back in both matches and gave the team a big boost with really everyone contributing,” Gallien said.
Riding the confidence of two impressive wins the past two days, the Women of Troy seemed to be the dark horse candidates to run the table and win the ITA Indoor Championship.
Despite their wave of momentum heading into Sunday, the Women of Troy hit a road block on their road to the championship match in the form of Pac-12 rival UCLA.
Though they were able to overcome a loss in doubles during the past two matches, the loss of a point on Sunday proved too valuable to the Women of Troy, as they would then lose three successive matches in singles, ending with Gabrielle DeSimone bowing out in three sets to UCLA’s Kaitlyn Ray on court five.
Though the score might have looked a bit lopsided at its conclusion, the Women of Troy put up a valiant effort to try and stave off elimination with three matches going into three sets, including No. 19 freshman Zoe Scandalis’ match against No. 8 Anderson and Santamaria’s match against UCLA’s No. 70 Pamela Montez.
“This definitely was a successful weekend, after getting back into the top 10 this early in the season,” Gallien said. “We get another crack at UCLA in a few weeks and Cal and Texas coming up.“