All-division preview: Minus key player, Southern Cal. starts Pac-12 slate
Southern California kicks off its first Pac-12 matches of the season with a journey to Colorado and Utah this weekend. The No. 10 Women of Troy (9-4) play their conference opener with a matchup in Boulder against the No. 62 Buffaloes on Friday. Then, USC heads to Salt Lake City to take on the No. 37 Utes on Sunday.
The No. 62 Buffaloes are 7-6 overall and 0-2 in Pac-12 play after taking a 4-3 loss last Sunday to Oregon. Colorado has no ranked singles players or doubles teams. USC is 7-0 all-time against Colorado in a series that dates back to 1981. Last year, USC beat Colorado 7-0 in a Pac-12 clash at Marks Stadium.
The No. 37 Utes are 8-2 overall after taking a win against Washington State 4-3 last week. Utah has No. 125 Tereza Bekerova ranked in singles and no ranked doubles team. USC is 5-0 all-time against Utah in a series that dates back to 1990. Last year, USC beat Utah 7-0 in a Pac-12 clash at Marks Stadium.
The Women of Troy have hit a bit of a skid since losing Sabrina Santamaria to a torn ACL on March 2. USC has suffered back-to-back losses to rival UCLA in a non-conference match (5-2) as well as a 4-3 setback to Baylor on Tuesday.
Santamaria, who captured the NCAA doubles title with Kaitlyn Christian, entered the 2013-14 season ranked No. 1 in the nation in singles and in doubles with Christian. A four-time ITA All-American, Santamaria was the 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year as a sophomore -- the same season that she and Christian became USC's first NCAA doubles winners and completing the first collegiate tennis "Triple Crown" as doubles champs at the ITA All-American championship, the ITA National Indoors championship and the NCAA tournament. The pair also has been named the Pac-12 Doubles Team of the Year the past two seasons. In her 2 1/2 seasons of work to date, Santamaria has gone 79-19 overall in singles and 83-18 in doubles.
USC freshman Zoë Katz had match-clinching victories in back-to-back matches for the Trojans last week, while also picking up doubles wins as the Trojans topped No. 58 San Diego State 7-0 and No. 4 California 6-1. For her winning efforts, Katz was named Pac-12 Player of the Week, becoming the first of the Women of Troy to win the award this season.
Around DI: Fifth-ranked Virginia plays one of the weekend's best matches when it takes on No. 13 Michigan on Friday. ... No. 8 Alabama has swept its past four SEC and will play No. 21 Auburn on Friday. ... Sunday's biggest match looks to be No. 3 Florida versus No. 12 Georgia.
Around DII: Friday holds a pair of top-10 matches, highlighted by No. 1 Armstrong Atlantic playing No. 6 Lynn. The Buccaneers have swept their five opponents in March. ... The other top-10 match puts No. 7 West Florida against No. 10 Florida Southern. ... West Florida faces another one of the nation's best on Saturday when it squares off against No. 9 Rollins. ... Lynn doesn't get a break in its second match of the weekend when it plays No. 5 Columbus State on Saturday.
Around DIII: Fifth-ranked Claremont-M-S faces No. 7 Bowdoin on Saturday. ... No. 8 Carnegie Mellon faces No. 15 Sewanee on Friday.