The USC women’s tennis team triumphed once again this weekend at the ITA Kick-Off, earning a victory over Akron in the opening match and later a win over UC Irvine in the finals. The Women of Troy entered the tournament with a No. 4 national ranking and did nothing to hurt that standing, easily defeating both opponents at the tournament.
In the opening match on Saturday, USC defeated the Akron Zips in quick fashion. Nineteenth-ranked sophomore Zoë Scandalis set the tone with a 6-1, 6-2 victory on court one. Senior Valeria Pulido followed that with an equally impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory, and sophomore newcomer Giuliana Olmos wrapped up the first wave of singles matches with a one-sided 6-1, 6-0 win.
Junior Kaitlyn Christian was able to clinch the victory for the Women of Troy in leading the second wave of singles matches. Playing at the No. 6 spot, Christian was near flawless in a 6-1, 6-0 victory. Her win earned the Trojans a berth in the championship game on Sunday against the UC Irvine Anteaters.
This marks the second time the Women of Troy have squared off against the Anteaters this season, as the two met nearly two weeks ago for USC’s season opener.
USC took that match without dropping a single set and were hoping to do much of the same in this match with a spot to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship on the line. Both teams tinkered with their lineups, but at the end of the day, the Women of Troy were once again simply too dominant for the Anteaters.
The tone was set during the doubles portion of the match, with the lethal combination of Christian and sophomore Sabrina Santamaria leading the way. In addition, senior standout Danielle Lao paired with Olmos to make quick work of their opponents and give USC the doubles point in less than half-an-hour of play.
Singles play in the finals went just as well for the Women of Troy. Christian again was extremely impressive. Playing out of the No. 4 spot, she made quick work of her opponent en route to a 6-1, 6-1 win. Olmos played out of the No. 3 spot and racked up a 6-3, 6-0 victory to give the Trojans a 3-0 lead in the match.
That left the clinching point up for grabs between Scandalis, Lao and freshman Ellie Yates. All three played well and were in position to win, but at the end of the match, it was the senior, Lao, who came up with a winner first and clinched the berth to the ITA National tournament for USC. Though Yates and Scandalis were close to the ends of their matches, both games were suspended because of weather conditions that had delayed all matches over the weekend.
Inclement weather aside, the ITA National Team Indoors competition will occur next month in Charlottesville, Va. USC has never won the tournament, but the team’s performance should be a good indicator of where it stands in comparison to other top teams in the country. Since the tournament’s first year in 1988, 14 national champions have either won or been a runner-up in the tournament.
The Women of Troy stand 3-0 overall (the record excludes split team tournament play) and will continue their 2013 campaign with two matches this week. First, on Thursday, the Trojans will make a short trip to Malibu for a match with the Pepperdine Waves. The team will return to Marks Stadium on Saturday for a battle with the Fresno State Bulldogs.