No. 18 USC Women Are Off To Ojai For Pac-10 Championships

April 21, 2010

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The USC women switch their focus to individual singles and doubles action this week with their annual trip to Ojai, Calif., for the 2010 Pac-10 Championships -- part of a historic stretch of tennis competition in the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament's 110th year. Conference singles and doubles titles go up for grabs as action kicks off on Thursday (April 22) and runs through the championship matches on Sunday (April 25).

The latest Campbell/ITA national team rankings (as of April 20) have USC ranked No. 18. The latest individual rankings also were released April 20. There, Maria Sanchez is ranked #3 in the singles nation to lead the Women of Troy. #33 Alison Ramos is next on the list, followed closely by Trojan freshman #36 Danielle Lao, and fellow freshman Valeria Pulido at #102. In doubles, Lao/Sanchez rank #63, while Kinstler/Sanchez are ranked #65 and Pulido/Sanchez rank #72.

USC has three Women of Troy lined up for the Pac-10 Singles Championship bracket and another three playing on the Invitational side. In the mix for Thursday morning's first-round singles play are Sarah Fansler, Valeria Pulido and Alison Ramos on the Championship side and Cristala Andrews, Leyla Entekhabi and Lyndsay Kinstler in Invitational play. In the doubles realm, which kicks off on Friday morning, Fansler/Kinstler and Lao/Ramos will go to work in the Pac-10 Doubles Championship bracket, while Andrews/Pulido are tabbed for Invitational doubles play. At the Pac-10 Championships, singles competition begins with a Round of 32, and doubles action starts up in the Round of 16. Last year in Ojai, senior Amanda Fink captured the Pac-10 Singles Championship and claimed her second straight Pac-10 Doubles Championship with Gabriela Niculescu later that same day. USC singles and doubles entries listed below. COMPLETE DRAWS AND RESULTS POSTED HERE

USC took a tough road loss to crosstown foe No. 7 UCLA, falling 6-1 to the Bruins last week at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. UCLA grabbed early momentum with a sweep in doubles, and pushed through in singles play to put the Women of Troy out of reach. Valeria Pulido captured USC's point of the match with a 0-6, 7-6 (6), 1-0 (10-8) over Pamela Montez. The loss moved USC to 13-8 overall and took the Trojans out of the running for a share of the Pac-10 title as USC went to 5-2 in conference play.

The Pac-10 title race became a murky scene this season when NorCal rains washed out key conference decisions in early April between USC and Stanford and between UCLA and Cal. The Trojans' defense of their 2009 Pac-10 Championship was knocked off course by losses to Cal and UCLA this season, but USC still factored into the overall race after its match at Stanford was suspended with things knotted up 3-3 in singles play in Palo Alto. The weather interrupted USC's momentum that day toward an aim at snapping the Cardinal's 11-year home win streak. But because the match result still factored into a possible shared conference crown, USC and Stanford got back to action to finish out their deciding doubles point before tournament play began at the Pac-10 Championships in Ojai, Calif. Squaring off in Ojai to close out a contest still considered a Stanford home match, the Cardinal kept their streak intact with a doubles sweep that left the No. 18 Women of Troy with a 4-3 loss to move to 13-9 overall and finish Pac-10 play at 5-3. Stanford claimed the 2010 Pac-10 crown outright with the win.

The USC men and women swept the March 2 Pac-10 Player of the Week awards thanks to a powerful week of play from junior Maria Sanchez. Ranked #3 in the nation in singles at the time, Sanchez got two more wins in the week, including an impressive upset of California's #2 Jana Juricova. After a smooth 6-2, 6-2 win over San Diego State's #58 Julia Trunk earlier in the week, Sanchez and the then-No. 10 Trojans went up against No. 3 California. Battling it out at the No. 1 singles position, Sanchez and Juricova played out three tough sets. When Juricova answered Sanchez' first-set win by taking the second set, Sanchez pulled ahead 2-0 in the third. Juricova responded to tie it 2-2, but Sanchez blasted out the next three games with a pair of breaks to go up 5-2. Juricova broke her back, but Sanchez had the last word with one more break to claim a strong 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 victory, helping secure the junior's second career Pac-10 Player of the Week selection.

En route to her current #3 singles ranking, Maria Sanchez has faced five different top-10 singles players so far in this 2010 dual-match play, and the junior can claim wins over all five. In that dual-match run, Sanchez lost to and then beat Baylor's Lenka Broosova and also holds a split against Cal's Jana Juricova. Sanchez' laundry-list of top-10 takedowns includes: #2 Jana Juricova (Cal), #8 Lenka Broosova (Baylor), #9 Josipa Bek (Clemson), #5 Yasmin Schnack (UCLA) and #8 Hilary Barte (Stanford). After a gutsy win over Washington's #15 Venise Chan, Sanchez moved from #3 to #2 in the nation on March 30. She pushed out to a nine-match win streak before falling to Juricova in yet another three-set battle. Sanchez quickly got back in winning mode the following day, however, topping Barte at Stanford. She now ranks #3 in the nation and is 26-7 overall with a 17-3 mark in dual-match action.

USC freshmen Danielle Lao and Valeria Pulido have been quick fits into the lineup for the Women of Troy. Lao has battled illness and injury and still stands strong for USC, holding a 22-10 overall singles record and is now 11-7 playing at the competitive No. 3 singles position. Pulido has a booming 27-8 overall singles mark, including a 17-5 dual-match record playing largely at the No. 4 slot. Both are enjoying time in the national rankings, with Lao at #36 and Pulido at #102.

Alison Ramos has leapt into the No. 2 singles position for the majority of USC's dual matches this year, and the sophomore has been holding strong at that competitive spot. She's toting a 24-14 overall singles record and is 13-7 in dual-match play, ranked #33 in the latest singles rankings.

USC's doubles lineup has seen some juggling throughout the year. Before March 26, the tough No. 1 position had seen Maria Sanchez alongside either Lyndsay Kinstler or Valeria Pulido -- both ranked pairings who combined for a 7-7 mark at the top slot. Danielle Lao and Alison Ramos were a strong duo at No. 2 with a 9-2 record at that position. The No. 3 spot had shifted hands, with Cristala Andrews and Pulido joining forces for seven dual matches and a 4-3 mark at the third spot. Once healthy, Sarah Fansler joined with Kinstler, and the pair has posted a 5-5 record in the past 10 USC dual matches. USC pieced together new pairings at No. 1 and No. 2 starting March 26, with Lao/Sanchez having gone 4-3 together and earning themselves a ranking of #63. Pulido/Ramos also have joined forces at No. 2 and hold a 3-4 mark. As a whole, USC is 13-1 when it has won the doubles point, and is 0-8 when losing the doubles point in dual-match play.

Junior Cristala Andrews earned a spot on the prestigious All-Tournament Team at the ITA National Team Indoors after an undefeated run at the No. 6 singles position during the tourney. Sidelined by injury for over a month of dual-match play, she returned to action last week. Andrews currently holds a 23-9 overall singles record

2010 Pac-10 Women's Tennis Championships - Ojai, Calif.

SINGLES - Championship Bracket
Valeria Pulido
First Round (April 22): vs. Pavlina Smatova (ORE) - 8 a.m.

Sarah Fansler
First Round (April 22): vs. [7] Mari Andersson (CAL) - 8 a.m.

[5] Alison Ramos
First Round (April 22): vs. Kasia Siwosz (CAL) - 12:30 p.m.

SINGLES - Invitational Bracket
Lyndsay Kinstler
First Round (April 22): vs. Natalia Toporowska (ARIZ) - 11 a.m.

Cristala Andrews
First Round (April 22): BYE
Round of 16 (April 22): Shannon Cassidy (ARIZ) / Logan Hansen (STAN) - 2 p.m.

Leyla Entekhabi
First Round (April 22): vs. Natalie Dillon (STAN) - 12:30 p.m.

DOUBLES - Championship Bracket
Sarah Fansler / Lyndsay Kinstler
First Round (April 23): vs. [4] Ardies/Dy (WASH) - 9 a.m.

Danielle Lao / Alison Ramos
First Round (April 23): vs. Li/McVeigh (STAN) - 10 a.m.

DOUBLES - Invitational Bracket
Cristala Andrews / Valeria Pulido
First Round (April 23): vs. Cassidy/Hammond (ARIZ) - 9 a.m.

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