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USC Women's Tennis Set To Divide And Conquer

Hailey Tucker |
April 23, 2015 | 10:19 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Giuliana Olmos (via USC Atheltics)
Giuliana Olmos (via USC Atheltics)

The defending Pac-12 champion USC Women’s Tennis team will meet up and battle against the rest of the conference this weekend, as they look to add both individual singles and doubles titles to their team’s championship total. 

The change of format doesn’t seem to be too much of a concern for the players, however, since most of them have been playing in individual tournaments since they were introduced to the game.

“We are competing against each other in practice every day so we kind of know how to switch on and off that competitive and friend relationship,” said sophomore Zoë Katz when asked what it was like to play against teammates.  “You grow up playing your friends, so you’re used to it.”

The tournament was even called “minimal” by freshman Gabby Smith in comparison with what the team’s goals are for the rest of the postseason.  

“Everybody wants to do well there,” Smith said.  “But I think everybody is thinking about the team in the back of their mind and everyone just wants to play good tennis.”

The team, ranked No. 2 in the country, is poised to bring home some serious hardware in the tournament that is set up for a 32-player singles pool in which each of the top-ten schools will supply three players and the eleventh place team will have two players in the mix.  

For USC, the three women playing for the individual title are No. 14 Giuliana Olmos—the No. 1 seed in the tournament—No. 21 Sabrina Santamaria—the No. 3 seed in the bracket—and No. 45 Zoë Scandalis.

For the doubles side of the tournament, the eleven schools will each supply one doubles team and the draw committee will select and additional five teams to round out the field of sixteen teams.  Representing USC will be Zoë Scandalis and No. 20 Olmos, who will be vying for her second consecutive doubles title.  Joining them will be the freshman duo of Gabby Smith and Madison Westby.

“We go out there to do well and we want to win it,” Smith said matter-of-factly.

The team is hot, rolling into Ojai coming off a week that included defeating UCLA in a come-from-behind win to cap an undefeated Pac-12 season and secure an outright Pac-12 championship. Both Smith and Katz spoke with pride and smiles when thinking back to their triumph.

“[It was] the most exciting match we’ve had all year,” Smith said smiling.  “That’s why my voice is gone, we were screaming so much.”

The team gained some national attention after the championship trophy shattered when it fell to the ground during the team celebration. Smith clarified that contrary reports that the girls wanted to be rock stars, the trophy was simply not glued together properly.

As the team moves on from their regular season dominance and through the individual tournament, they hope to prepare as much as they can for the NCAA team tournament that will follow in the middle of May.

The team is excited and buzzing heading into the individual tournament and will soon see how they match up against the Pac-12 as a whole.

“The whole weekend is going to be really good competition and its going to help all of us going into NCAA’s,” said Katz.  “It’s exactly what we need- going out and competing and fighting, and we’re going to do everything we can to take singles and doubles and everything we can.”

Reach Staff Reporter Hailey Tucker here



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