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Friday, February 8, 2013

USC Drops Doubles Point, but Conquers Host Virginia 4-1

©Colette Lewis 2012--
Charlottesville, VA--

University of Southern California wasn't a polite guest Friday afternoon, spotting host Virginia a 1-0 lead, then winning four singles matches to defeat the Cavaliers 4-1 in the first round of the ITA Women's Team Indoor Championships.

The nation's top-ranked doubles team of Sabrina Santamaria and Kaitlyn Christian rolled past Virginia's Stephanie Nauta and Li Xi 8-0, a result similar to their meeting in the final of the USTA/ITA (individual) Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in November, when Santamaria and Christian beat Nauta and Xi 6-0, 6-0. But Virginia dominated on courts 2 and 3, sending the Women of Troy into the 10-minute break trailing 1-0.

Santamaria continued her roll in singles, cruising by Xi 6-2, 6-1 on court 2 to pull USC even.  Danielle Lao made it 2-1 USC with her 6-4, 6-1 win over Julia Elbaba on court 1, but there was no obvious third or fourth point visible as the top two courts emptied and fans moved down to courts 3-6.

Nauta and Zoe Scandalis were in a slugfest on court 3, with long points and longer games, and a first set that lasted 20 minutes longer than Santamaria's entire match. Another lengthy first set ended in a tiebreaker to USC at line 6 with Virginia's Tomljanovic taking it to give the Cavalier home crowd some hope. With Virginia's Erin Vierra taking the second set from Giuliana Olmos at line 5, another possibility appeared, but Virginia could not get that second point up on the board. Maci Epstein couldn't close out Gabriella DeSimone of USC, dropping the second set on court 4, and although Nauta and Tomljanovic were still very much in their matches, the momentum remained tilted to USC.

DeSimone failed to serve out that match at 5-3 in the third against Epstein, and Epstein saved match points in the next game, but in the meantime, Vierra had fallen behind 4-1 to Olmos in the third. Olmos closed out the match to make it 3-1, and DeSimone held her nerve in the third set tiebreaker that decided her match with Epstein, taking it 7 points to 4.

USC will play No. 6 seed North Carolina in the quarterfinals at 3:30 pm on Saturday.

USC 4, Virginia 1

Singles competition:
1. #14 Danielle Lao (USC) def. #4 Julia Elbaba (UVA) 6-4, 6-1
2. #17 Sabrina Santamaria (USC) def. #44 Li Xi (UVA) 6-2, 6-1
3. #43 Stephanie Nauta (UVA) vs. #19 Zoe Scandalis (USC) 6-7 (9-11), 5-2, unfinished
4. #56 Gabriella DeSimone (USC) def. Maci Epstein (UVA) 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4)
5. Giuliana Olmos (USC) def. Erin Vierra (UVA) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1
6. Hana Tomljanovic (UVA) vs. Kaitlyn Christian (USC) 7-6 (8-6), 2-3, unfinished

Doubles competition:
1. #1 Sabrina Santamaria/Kaitlyn Christian (USC) def. #10 Stephanie Nauta/Li Xi (UVA) 8-0
2. #5 Maci Epstein/Erin Vierra (UVA) def. #13 Gabriella DeSimone/Zoe Scandalis (USC) 8-2
3. Julia Elbaba/Hana Tomljanovic (UVA) def. Giuliana Olmos/Danielle Lao (USC) 8-3
Match Notes:
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (2,1,5,4)