Three Women of Troy Set For NCAA Singles Play

May 24, 2010

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USC has three players set to perform on NCAA tennis' historic stage this month, with singles and doubles selections to the coming NCAA Individual Championships at Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., from May 26-31. In the women's bracket, Maria Sanchez, Alison Ramos and Danielle Lao have each earned a spot in the NCAA singles competition. Leading the charge for the USC women this season has been junior Maria Sanchez, who has been ranked in the nation's top-3 for much of the year. Currently No. 3 in the nation, she has picked up the No. 3 seed for the coming NCAA Singles competition, and she holds a 26-8 overall singles record as the Trojans enter the postseason. This is Sanchez' second straight trip to the NCAA Singles Championships, as she appeared in the first round last year as a sophomore. Making their first career appearances in the NCAA Individual Championships are sophomore Alison Ramos and Danielle Lao, who have been ranked as singles players in the nation's top-40 throughout the year. Currently, Ramos ranks No. 31 in the nation and holds a 25-16 overall singles mark. Lao ranks No. 37 and is 22-11 overall in singles in her first year as a Trojan.

Ranked No. 20 in the nation, the USC women came off a fourth-place finish in the competitive Pac-10, which sent six teams to the NCAA Championships this year. The Trojans' trip to the 2010 postseason marked their 29th overall appearance in the NCAA team tournament. After beating Sacramento State 4-0 in the first round and falling 4-1 to fellow Pac-10 team California in the second round, USC (14-10) now holds a 58-27 all-time record in NCAA Tournament play along with seven national championships. The 1983 and 1984 crowns both were NCAA titles, as the NCAA began its women's tennis championships in 1982.

NCAA Championship host Georgia will be running live scoring updates online through a Championship Central page at

The latest Campbell/ITA national team rankings (as of May 3) have USC ranked No. 20. The latest individual rankings also were released May 3. There, Maria Sanchez is ranked #3 in the singles nation to lead the Women of Troy. #31 Alison Ramos is next on the list, followed closely by Trojan freshman #37 Danielle Lao, and fellow freshman Valeria Pulido at #112. In doubles, Pulido/Sanchez rank #61, while Lao/Sanchez rank #64 and Kinstler/Sanchez are ranked #81.

In USC's NCAA visit last year, the Women of Troy were the automatic qualifiers from the conference after USC won its first Pac-10 Championship. The No. 7-seeded Trojans reached the 2009 NCAA Second Round and were tripped up by Washington to close down USC's season with a 21-3 overall record and ranked No. 9 in the nation. Three Trojans moved into NCAA Individual action from there: Amanda Fink, Sarah Fansler and Maria Sanchez.

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 faced five different top-10 singles players in 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 has gone 1-2 against Cal's Jana Juricova. Sanchez' laundry-list of top-10 takedowns includes: #2 Jana Juricova (Cal, Feb. 26), #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 26-8 overall.

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.