NCAA Tennis Championships, Singles Tournament: USC Shows Promise In First Round


The day was filled with rain delays, awesome tennis and some thrilling story lines along the way, as the Trojans escaped the wet day, sending five members of their squad to the second round of action at the NCAA Singles Championships. The Trojans finished the day 4-2, with senior Danielle Lao and junior Emilio Gomez as the only players heading home.

The men looked strong following their 4-3 loss to Ohio State in the National Semifinals. Sophomore Yannick Hanfmann started the day in prime fashion, making quick work of Boise State’s Andrew Bettles, 6-2, 6-4. The 45th-ranked ITA player came out strong, breaking serve to start the match against Bettles, setting the stage for the two-set victory. Hanfmann will take the court today against the 9-16 seed Matija Pecotic of Princeton.

Super sophomore Roberto Quiroz was even more dominant, only needing two games for a sweep to defeat Oklahoma’s Dane Webb, 6-1, 6-1 in the first round. He’s now 36th in the nation in singles, and boasts the most singles wins of all of his Trojan teammates, with a 35-9 overall record heading into his second round tilt with Tzvetan Mihov from South Carolina.

Ray Sarmiento struggled down the stretch in regular season and postseason play, but that did not hamper the junior, who advanced to the second round. Sarmiento made huge strides in his third year at the NCAA Singles, winning 6-4, 6-3 over VCU’s Max Wennakoski, who is ranked 29th in the country. He will face off with Notre Dame’s best Greg Andrews, a team the Trojans defeated thanks to his match-clinching efforts in singles play back on March 20th.

The only Trojan to falter on the men’s side, was the team’s highest-ranked player, seventh overall, in Emilio Gomez. The Ecuadoran lefty was emotionally and physically drained following an exhausting tie-break victory in the first set. From that point on, he could never truly recover, falling to Alabama’s Jarryd Botha 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5, and finishing with a 23-8 overall singles record for the year.

Over on the women’s side, the afternoon of rain in Illinois hampered with play, but did not derail the Women of Troy, who went 2-1 in their first round action. Sophomore Zoë Scandalis got out to another winning start in her second NCAA singles appearance, serving up a 6-2, 6-1 win over Notre Dame’s Britney Sanders to move along to tomorrow’s Round of 32 match against No. 6 seeded Lauren Herring of Georgia.

The first match that was seriously delayed on the Trojan front was with No. 2 Sabrina Santamaria, who was pushed back over an hour from her 3:30 PT start time. Later on, a second flurry of storms delayed the match, which made for a challenging variable in the first round match. Once the skies cleared, Santamaria played outstanding, securing a 6-3, 6-2 win over Texas A&M’s Nazari Urbina. The top-ranked Trojan will face #36 Alexa Guarachi in the second round.

Santamaria will be on the courts twice on Thursday, the second time with her trusted partner Kaitlyn Christian, forming the No. 2 seeded doubles pair. They begin their quest for a national championship, following their Pac-12 crown, against Abu Mushrefova/Hamilton of Northwestern in the NCAA Doubles first round.

Unfortunately for the Women of Troy, their savvy vet Danielle Lao lost her first round matchup in a the three-set thriller that caught the attention of most in attendance. Lao came out swinging early, winning the first set 6-1 before mother nature played her part in the first round grudge match. Texas’ Braunna Addison responded out of the break, as the match quickly shifted indoors for the remaining two sets.

Addison was able to make up some ground and steal the upset win off Lao in a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 comeback. The loss finishes Lao’s senior season at a 27-6 overall singles record, and a 107-39 overall record in singles play in her four years with the Women of Troy. The loss was emotional for all involved, with Lao being the only USC senior at the NCAA Championships.

Here are some of the match ups, with times TBD, for your Trojans in the second round of the NCAA Championships.

Men 2nd Round: 

Women’s 2nd Round:

Doubles 1st Round: 

[2] Christian/Santamaria (USC) vs. Abu Mushrefova/Hamilton (Northwestern)