After defeating Pac-12 rival Stanford in the round of 16, the USC women’s tennis team could not keep its NCAA tournament run alive, falling to UCLA 4-3 in the semifinals.
Playing against the Bruins for the fourth time this season, the Women of Troy had their work cut out for them trying to defeat UCLA just weeks after beating them for the Pac-12 title.
Making their first appearance in the NCAA semifinals since 2006, USC had to take down Stanford in the round of 16 before they faced the Bruins.
Locked in a tight contest against a Cardinal team they had previously defeated this season, the Women of Troy took down Stanford behind the strong play of junior Danielle Lao, who clinched the 4-2 victory with a win over No. 5 Mallory Burdette.
USC’s victory over Stanford marked its first win over the Cardinal in an NCAA tournament game since 1983, a whopping 29 years.
The Women of Troy remained steadfast despite going down a set in all but one singles match and showed true resiliency in coming back.
In the next round, USC could not squeeze out another tight victory against UCLA as the team’s luck seemed to run out. Against the top-seeded Bruins, the Women of Troy lost the doubles’ point to start the match, putting them in a 1-0 hole early on in the match.
The sixth-ranked doubles squad of Anderson and Morton proved to be too much for the tandem of sophomore Kaitlyn Christian and freshman Sabrina Santamaria, who lost the match 8-3.
On court 2, the duo of freshman Zoe Scandalis and junior Valeria Pulido tied the match at 4-4 against UCLA’s Dolehide/Montez before losing the next four points, 8-4.
During the singles’ portion, the Women of Troy ran out to a 3-2 lead behind the strong play at the bottom of their lineup. Freshman Gabriella DeSimone continued her strong play in the NCAA tournament, recovering from an 0-6 hole in the first set to win on court 5.
Pulido (7-5, 3-6, 6-1) and Sabrina Santamaria (7-5, 2-6, 6-4) followed with victories at 6 and 3, respectively, to build the USC lead.
USC’s one-set lead would not last long, as No. 4 Robin Anderson rebounded from a one-set deficit to win against Scandalis on court 1.
In the final match, Danielle Lao could not finish off McCall Jones as the Bruins would take the semifinal behind her 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 victory.
Despite the loss, the Women of Troy finished the year at 24-4, which marks their best record since 1985.