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Another Bruin Battle

Along with beach volleyball, women's water polo and men's tennis, USC women's tennis will clash with UCLA to close out the regular season this weekend.

Click here for the full preview!

The No. 32 Women of Troy head to Westwood at noon tomorrow to take on the No. 22 Bruins. The Trojans are looking to avenge a tight 4-3 loss to UCLA earlier this season, which didn't count toward conference play. USC is also looking to get back to its winning ways after a 4-3 loss to Pepperdine on Wednesday snapped its four-match win streak.

UCLA boasts the highest-ranked player in tomorrow's matchup in No. 3 Ena Shibahara. The Bruins have one more ranked singles player, while USC has three, led by No. 27 Gabby Smith. Both teams have two ranked doubles teams.

Follow the Women of Troy on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on news and results!


Four Score

This weekend, USC women's tennis earned two road wins to improve its winning streak to four matches and bolster its NCAA Tournament resume.

On Friday, the No. 39 Trojans marched into Tempe and upset No. 29 Arizona State. The Sun Devils won a tightly contested doubles point, but the Women of Troy showed their Fight On spirit by battling back to win the match. The decision came down to Court 4, where senior Zoe Katz had dropped the first set in a tiebreaker and won the second, 7-5. Katz muscled through to a 7-5 win in the third set to clinch the match.

Against Arizona on Saturday, USC dominated in doubles, racking up two 6-0 wins on Courts 2 and 3. The Trojans then drummed up four wins in singles to earn a 5-2 victory.

The wins helped USC improve to 10-8 on the season with a 5-4 mark in Pac-12 play. The Trojans host their last home match of the season on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. against Pepperdine.


Evergreen State Split

USC women's tennis picked up its first Pac-12 victory in a road split with the Washington schools this weekend.

On Friday, the No. 39 Women of Troy topped Washington State, 4-1.

On Sunday, they ventured to Seattle to take on the No. 35 Washington Huskies. The Trojans won the doubles point and their first two singles matches to jump out to a 3-0 lead, but the Huskies dug in for four hard-fought singles wins to take the match by a 4-3 margin.

With the split, the Trojans moved to 6-8 on the season, with a 1-4 mark in Pac-12 play. This week, they have two chances to improve that record, as they host Utah on Friday and Colorado on Saturday at Marks Stadium.


Gallien To Step Down

USC women's tennis head coach Richard Gallien announced today (March 24) that he will end his 22-year tenure at the conclusion of this season.

"It has been a privilege to have coached so many brilliant young women in my 22 fantastic years at this remarkable university," Gallien said. "All but two student-athletes who played for me received their degrees, something of which I am very proud."

"I look forward to coaching our team through the postseason and finishing strong. And in the future, I will always be rooting for all the teams at USC."

Click here for the full story.

Gallien, who began coaching at USC in 1996, is a five-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year. He sports a 385-157 (71.0 percent) record at USC, not including 8 wins and a loss vacated due to NCAA penalty. The Trojans have made the NCAA Tournament each year since Gallien has arrived, including three trips to the semifinals and five to the quarterfinals.

This year, the Women of Troy are 5-7 overall (0-3 in Pac-12 play), with eight regular season matches remaining.


Walk-On Walk-Off

At athletic programs across the nation, it's unlikely for a walk-on to make an immediate impact in his or her first appearance on a team. That's what made yesterday that much more special for USC women's tennis senior Ines Guinard.

Guinard, an industrial and systems engineering major who has accepted an offer to work at Bank of America Merrill Lynch upon graduation, joined the team this fall after being spotted hitting on the practice courts by the women's tennis coaches.

Yesterday, she made her first appearance in a dual match for the Trojans, and with all eyes on her, clinched a 4-3 victory for USC.

After dropping the doubles point, USC rattled off three straight singles victories to charge ahead to a 3-1 lead. But the Lions clawed back to even things up with two three-set wins. With the score knotted at 3-3, spectators, teammates and coaches gravitated toward Court 6, where Guinard was locked in battle with LMU's Tatijana Sheikhan.

Guinard took the first set in a tiebreaker, but dropped the second. With the match on the line, she powered through to win the third set, 6-3, to win her first-ever collegiate tennis match and clinch the win for the Trojans.

With the win, the Trojans improved to 5-7 on the season heading into conference play. USC kicks off its Pac-12 stretch with a road trip to take on the Washington schools this weekend.

Follow the Women of Troy on Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date!

@inesguinard is one of the best sport stories I have ever been a part of. Ines Guinard just secured the deciding match in a 4-3 win over LMU. What makes this story so special is that Ines was a normal student in early January, a senior, finishing up her Industrial Engineering degree, looking forward to her job as an investment banker upon graduation. For whatever reason, Ines slipped through the cracks for 3.5 years at USC until we saw her practicing and saw her true tennis ability. Once @zoescandalis and I shook her hand, we knew we had to have her on the team. Now here she is making history and blazing her own trail. I am not surprised, she is emotionally intelligent, doesn't flinch under stress, extremely positive, always building up the team, and loves to compete. So so so great to have her on our team for her last few months of school!

A post shared by West Nott (@westnott) on

Start Your Engines

USC women's tennis, fresh off an impressive upset of No. 4 Michigan, opens up Pac-12 play this weekend, with matches against Cal and Stanford tomorrow and Saturday.

Click here for the full preview!

The Trojans finished up their nonconference slate with a 4-3 record and a No. 21 national ranking. If they can upset No. 12 Cal and No. 14 Stanford, their ranking will surely rise.

USC has already faced Cal once this season, in a nonconference match on Feb. 25 in Berkeley. The Bears were too strong for the Trojans that time, drumming up a 6-1 win.

The Trojans hope for a better result this time. The match vs. Cal kicks off tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., while Saturday's match against Stanford begins at 2 p.m.


Trojans Live: Spring Football Preview

USC head coach Clay Helton and rising sophomore WR Michael Pittman Jr. joined Trojans Live last night to preview spring football. Helton emphasized the need to use the Rose Bowl success as a springboard going into next season, while Pittman is expected to help fill the gaping hole left by JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers.

Click here to watch Pittman on Trojans Live.

Also on the show, women's tennis star Madison Westby talking about the program's huge win over No. 4 Michigan, growing up in Oklahoma and her plans for life after tennis.

Click here to watch Westby on Trojans Live.

Here is Helton on the eve of Spring Football:

Valiant Valdes

USC sophomore Rianna Valdes was named the Pac-12 Women's Tennis Player of the Week, the conference announced today.

Valdes served as the clincher in USC's upset win over No. 4 Michigan on Friday. After faltering in doubles with partner Jessica Failla, she bounced back in singles in a battle with No. 125 Chiara Lommer on Court 4.

Unranked Valdes won the first set, 6-3, before dropping the second, 4-6. The Boca Raton, FL native dug in for a 6-4 win in the third, securing a 5-2 victory for USC.

With the win, Valdes improved to 3-3 in dual match play this season and broke a two-match losing streak.

Valdes' first career Player of the Week award is the third by a Trojan this season, as junior Gabby Smith has won it twice before. USC's three weekly awards are more than any other team in the conference can claim.

The No. 32 Trojans battle it out with No. 7 Cal this Friday at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.


Michigan Goes Down at Marks

USC women's tennis pulled off an impressive upset of No. 4 Michigan on Friday to get back on track after two tough losses.

Read the full recap here!

The No. 32 Trojans kicked off the match with a tough doubles slate, going up against the No. 1 pair and the No. 28 pair in the nation, and falling on both courts. But after dropping the doubles point, freshman Sydney Van Alphen went straight to work, evening up the score with a dominant straight-sets win on Court 6.

Michigan pulled ahead with a win on Court 5, but USC rattled off three straight wins to clinch, plus another for good measure, to win the match 5-2. The Trojans mustered two three-set victories and two tiebreak victories to pull off the upset at Marks Stadium.

Sophomore Rianna Valdes was the clincher, upsetting Michigan's 125th-ranked player, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. All three of USC's ranked players topped Michigan's ranked players, in addition to Valdes toppling her ranked opponent.

On the horizon for the Trojans is another matchup with No. 7 Cal, to whom they fell last month, this Friday at 1:30 p.m. The next day, they host No. 16 Stanford at noon.

Stevens Center Academic Spotlight: Ines Guinard

USC's student-athletes are more than just champions on the field, court, diamond and pool --- they're champions in the classroom as well. Each week, we will get to know one of these scholarly Trojans a bit better in our academic spotlight.

USC-WOMENS-TENNIS-2017-PHOTO-DAY-MCGILLEN-3916.jpgName: Ines Guinard
Class: Senior
Sport: Women's Tennis
Major: Industrial and Systems Engineering
GPA: 3.7

Aubrey Kragen (AK): Can you describe the Industrial and Systems Engineering major and what most people do with that degree when they graduate?

Ines Guinard (IG): The main focus is to optimize a system. And you can define a system in many ways. Your system could be an entire manufacturing plant, so how can you make a piece of machinery most efficiently and with the fewest number of errors? Or you can look at software as your system and see how you can run it faster, error-free. So the underlying concept is optimization of a system.

AK: How did you become interested in this subject?

IG: In school, I was always good at math and enjoyed it. I was always a numbers person, and I wanted something that let you be creative while you were working with numbers. And engineering kind of has that builders' 'You can create what you want' mentality. In terms of industrial and systems within the engineering majors, it's probably the most broad in terms of what you can apply it to. I enjoy that because I wasn't a person who grew up and wanted to build cars like mechanical engineers -- I didn't know from the start. So that's why I picked industrial engineering specifically. I started as a biomedical engineer. I did research at UC Davis in high school and I was in the biomedical department there, doing tissue engineering, so for the meniscus and for the TMJ disc. I got into that through the sports appeal, and  I loved the medical device side of it and kind of quickly realized that the biological and chemical aspect of it didn't really appeal to me as much. So I switched out after a semester and at that point it was either mechanical engineering or industrial, and I didn't want to pigeonhole myself into one area.

AK: It sounds like you were ahead of the game in high school, working on a college campus, and it helped you earn a Trustee Scholarship. What did that process entail?

IG: In terms of getting the scholarship, the process is just applying before Dec. 1 to be considered for a merit scholarship and then you receive a notification that you've been nominated. I was actually nominated for the Presidential Scholarship (half tuition), and then you come in and do a full day of interviews with different people. Then, through my interviews, I actually got bumped up to a Trustee Scholar. So that was exciting. I'm a Merit Research Scholar here, too. I think there are like 12 of us per year, so it's a pretty small group, and it's basically you get $3,000 of grant money to put towards undergraduate research ... I spent a couple years doing research on cancer metastasis in aerospace and mechanical engineering. This one was building mathematical and computational models of cancer metastasis, so how it spreads from one part of the body to another site, and basically using probability and math to predict that.

AK: It sounds like you have experience in a lot of different areas. How did everything come together to help you choose the job offer you just accepted upon graduation?

IG: The general theme has been that ability to be creative and not be pigeonholed in one area. So cancer sounds very medical-related, but really I was building mathematical models and coding, so that's a skill that can be applied anywhere. Same thing with industrial engineering. The other piece that I thought was missing from the puzzle was finance, because I thought it would be interesting to go into my own business venture sometime, and if you understand both the engineering and the finance, I think that puts you at an advantage. My older brother went into investment banking, and I learned about it through him. So my freshman summer, I did my first internship in Houston in oil and gas investment banking. I really enjoyed it, but I didn't want to be in oil and gas. I worked for Bank of America in New York my sophomore summer in financial sponsors ... and then I did the same thing in San Francisco this past summer, where I accepted my job ultimately.

AK: You've worked in a bunch of different cities and lived in different countries --- how has that influenced who you are as a person?

IG: That's one of the things I'm most grateful for. My mom's Spanish, my dad's French, so they embraced the aspect of being able to speak multiple languages and call multiple places home. That's helped me in being part of a team, being a leader and communicating with people from different backgrounds, whether it's with engineers or finance people or people in a completely different industry. I've definitely taken all those experiences in and applied them to my school setting, tennis and work.

AK: This is your first year on the tennis team, right? When and how did you become a member of the team?

IG: I started playing tennis when I was eight. I did the whole junior circuit, I played several hours a day growing up, and then when I got to college, I felt like if I wanted to do engineering and wanted to do it really well, it was going to require a lot of time. But I loved the sport, so I kept playing three or four days a week. This fall, Richard Gallien saw me hitting and came up to me, and the first step was having me be a point of contact for the girls if they wanted someone to hit with on outside hours. About a month later, West Nott and Zoe Scandalis, our two assistant coaches, saw me again and had me hit with Zoe. They started asking more questions and right away said, 'I think we need her on the team.' The next day, I got a call in the morning to come in, and by that afternoon I had signed everything and was on board. It was super special and I'm super excited about it. The beauty of it is that the one thing that was kind of missing from my college experience in terms of the things I love, was tennis. So I couldn't be happier about it.

Smith Succeeds

On the heels of a tight loss to No. 20 UCLA, USC women's tennis player Gabby Smith was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second time this season.

The No. 22 Trojans hosted the Bruins in a non-conference tilt on Saturday. UCLA took a 1-0 lead into singles play after winning the doubles point, and quickly extended that lead to 3-0 with two wins in singles. USC inched closer with a win on Court 3 by Jessica Failla, but UCLA's Jada Hart clinched the match on Court 4 for the Bruins.

With the match already decided in UCLA's favor, USC's Smith refused to let up, and worked her way to a three-set victory. It was the 10th straight singles win for Smith.

Despite USC's 4-3 loss, Smith earned her third career Player of the Week honor. Next up for Smith and the Trojans is a trip to Cal this weekend.


Bring on the Bruins

Crosstown Cup points are on the line this weekend as USC women's tennis hosts the UCLA Bruins.

No. 22 USC, boasting a 3-1 record this season, will take on No. 20 UCLA in a non-conference match at Marks Stadium.

Click here for the full preview!

Junior Gabby Smith (pictured) rides a nine-match win streak into tomorrow's rivalry crash. Her consistency has earned her a spot as the No. 25 singles player in the nation -- the highest ranking of any Trojan. UCLA's highest ranked player, meanwhile, is No. 3 Ena Shibahara, who's won five straight.

USC currently trails in the Crosstown Cup, 45-35, but can earn five points with a win on Saturday.

The match begins tomorrow at noon and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.


Road Split

USC women's tennis team split its matches at ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Auburn, AL this weekend.

The No. 18 Trojans squared up against Rice on Saturday to kick off the competition. USC lost the doubles point, but roared back to earn a 4-2 victory. Despite being down 5-2 in the second set, Rianna Valdez (pictured) showed her Fight On spirit to come back and clinch the match for the Trojans.

With the win over Rice, USC advanced to the final of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend against No. 15 Auburn. The Trojans again dropped the doubles point, but weren't able to come back this time. USC's Gabby Smith was the only Trojan able to secure a victory in singles, as Auburn won, 4-1. Smith is undefeated (3-0) in dual matches this year and has won eight matches in a row.

USC gets right back into action on Thursday, when it hosts San Diego State. Just a day later, the Florida Gators come to town.

Both matches take place at 1:30 p.m. at USC's Marks Stadium.


Queen of the Conference

Yesterday, Gabby Smith of USC women's tennis earned the Pac-12 Player of the Week award for her personal and team achievements.

Click here for the full release!

Smith went undefeated in the National Collegiate Tennis Classic last week, which included an upset of the tourney's top-seeded player. After that, she helped her team earn a 5-2 win over UC Santa Barbara in its first dual match of the season.

Smith and her doubles partner Zoe Katz fell, 6-4, in doubles, but Smith dug in to win her singles match. She eked out a 7-6 (5) win in the first set, but found her rhythm and shut out her opponent in the second set.

This is the second time in Smith's career that she's earned Pac-12 Player of the Week. She sets her sights on another when USC heads to Auburn, AL for ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Jan. 28. The Trojans' next home match is on Feb. 1 vs. San Diego State.


Starting Strong

No. 18 USC women's tennis got the season started on the right foot with a 5-2 win over UC Santa Barbara this weekend.

Click here for the full recap!

After a nearly three-hour rain delay on Thursday, the Women of Troy got started against the Gauchos by winning the doubles point. In both doubles and singles, USC lost at the No. 1 spot, but the Trojans demonstrated a team effort in locking up the win.

In singles, the Trojans were victorious at the No. 2, 4, 5 and 6 slots. Junior Madison Westby closed the match out with a win that required some guts.

Next up for the Trojans is a trip to Auburn, AL for ITA Kick-Off weekend.

Rainy Rose Cup

USC Trojan Outreach and the women's tennis team partnered up to host the fifth annual Rose Cup on Sunday to benefit USC's Norris Cancer Center.

Women's tennis raised $4,000 to fund breast cancer research this year. Due to the rare heavy rain, the tennis tournament portion of the event was canceled, but nearly 100 USC student-athletes and staff members got together to eat lunch and celebrate the generosity of donors.

Rose Cup.JPG

Stevens Center Academic Spotlight: Kristen Venter

USC's student-athletes are more than just champions on the field, court, diamond and pool --- they're champions in the classroom as well. Each week, we will get to know one of these scholarly Trojans a bit better in our academic spotlight.

venter.jpgName: Kristen Venter
Class: Sophomore
Sport: Women's Tennis
Major: Business Administration (Cinematic Arts)
GPA: 3.87

Aubrey Kragen (AK): Having gone to high school in London, how did you end up at USC?

Kristen Venter (KV): I was born and raised in South Africa, but I went to an international school for high school in London and part of middle school as well, so I was there for just under five years. I ended up here because I've always loved Southern California --- my mom's American, so I've got family in San Diego. And tennis was a big thing. I loved the coaches here and the team. And the school --- no other school has the joint major with business and cinematic arts, so I feel like at USC you can really combine things and sculpt your own major, whereas at other schools it's straight business or straight economics.

AK: So did you know coming into college that you wanted to be in the BCA program?

KV: I didn't know about the program, actually,  so I came in as just business administration. I found out about the BCA program while I was here for Marshall orientation, so I applied right away. I found out I was accepted my first semester, and I started the classes my second semester.

AK: So you knew you were interested in film coming in?

KV: I knew I liked the entertainment industry and business. I always wanted to do business, but I'm not very interested in just investment banking and finance and accounting. And I know that's a lot of business. So I kind of just wanted to gear it towards the other side of business.

AK: Is it correct that you're interested in wildlife conservation?

KV: Growing up in South Africa, it was always part of my life. On weekends, it's very common for people to go to a game reserve, which is literally the wild. So on the weekends I'd be around hippos and rhinos and giraffes. You don't really get that anywhere else. So growing up with that and seeing the poaching crisis that's going on right now, I just wanted to do something related to that. And my career goals have just been shaped towards that.

AK: So what is it that you want to do with your degree?

KV: Specifically, I really want to work in the production and the business side behind documentary films for wildlife conservation. So there's a lot going on now with rhino poaching and elephant poaching, so there's been some great documentaries and short films and a media spotlight around the crisis. I want to work on the business side of those things. This past summer I worked at a fiscal sponsorship in New York called Empowers Africa. They work on raising money to fund these documentaries. So that's the end goal.

AK: You also worked for Sony for a while, right? How did that tie in with your career aspirations?

KV: That was before USC, so it was in high school, while I was in London. They were based in New York as well, but I would send in submissions. That was just kind of digital media and following what was trending online for the millennial generation. With those reports that they would get from me and the other trend spotters worldwide, they would combine that to make their TV programs and YouTube videos and short films. So that wasn't geared toward the documentary or the wildlife conservation, but it was more toward the digital media side of things and mass communication.

AK: To shift to tennis, your dad played tennis at UCLA --- How does that affect your family dynamic?

KV: I mean, they always knew USC was for me. Growing up I wanted to go to UCLA just because both my parents actually went there, but as I got older and realized what I wanted to do and the environment that I would be more comfortable in, I knew right away that USC was more of a fit for me. And my parents know that. My dad's actually good friends with my head coach here, now that they realize they used to play each other. Our head coach, Richard Gallien, played at Pepperdine around the same time my dad played at UCLA. So he knows Richard is just the best coach. I'm in great hands --- all of us on the team here are in great hands. So he knows that this is right for me.

AK: Since you grew up in South Africa, lived in London for a while and traveled to Southern California before, was your transition to living in the United States an easy one?

KV: I think that helped out because my mom's American and I've got family in San Diego. So that's nice because I'm really far from home, but not too far. I can still go like three hours away and see my grandparents, so that helps a lot. And going to an international school, there were a lot of children of expats, so there were a lot of American people. So that wasn't really a culture shock, because I'd come here in the summers and I went to high school with a lot of Americans. And speaking English helps. I know a lot of international students come here and they barely speak English. I can imagine that's a really hard transition. My transition was actually smoother than I thought. I thought it would be more of a culture shock and just more of an adjustment, but it also helps having the team. You come in already with a group of friends.

A Rose is a Rose

Rose Cup 1.jpgOn Sunday, Nov. 20, Trojan Outreach and the USC women's tennis team will partner to host the fifth annual Rose Cup benefitting the USC Norris Cancer Center.

The Rose Cup was first held in 2012 to support women's tennis player Kaitlyn Christian's and her mother, Rose, who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Kaitlyn's teammate, Giuliana Olmos, spearheaded the fundraising efforts and has helped expand the program year after year. Last year, the Trojan Outreach and USC women's tennis raised $6,000 to fund breast cancer research at USC's Norris Cancer Center, and the goal this year is to hit $10,000.

Due in part to her efforts organizing the Rose Cup, Olmos earned the ITA/Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award.

Initially, the event mostly comprised Trojan student-athletes who donated their time to the cause, but it is open to anyone who'd like to participate. To take part in the Rose Cup this year, people can sign up for the 16-team doubles tournament for $10 a team. Commemorative T-shirts are also available for $10 each. Those who donate $100 or more can customize their shirts with their names on them.

Trojan fans can also donate directly to the cause through GoFundMe by clicking here!

Those who do not wish to play tennis, but would like to attend the Rose Cup are welcome. A free lunch will be provided to everyone in attendance.

The event runs from 12-2 p.m. on Nov. 20 at USC's Marks Tennis Stadium.

If you're interested in donating, participating or learning more about the fifth annual Rose Cup, click here to contact McCall Hall, USC's director of community outreach.

Trophy Time

During the Trojans' game vs. Colorado on Saturday, USC's female student-athletes were presented their trophy and check for winning the 2015-16 Capital One Cup.

The Capital One Cup recognizes NCAA Division I athletics programs for their cumulative performance across multiple men's and women's sports. The Women of Troy earned their first ever Capital One Cup Trophy by winning two national championships (water polo and beach volleyball) and posting eight total Top-10 finishes (lacrosse, volleyball, golf, swimming, track and indoor track) last season. USC's spring sports helped catapult the program from 17th place at the end of the winter season to the top overall spot.

As part of the presentation, Capital One also presented USC with a $200,000 check for student-athlete scholarships.

Currently, USC's women's soccer, volleyball, golf, cross country and swimming programs are working to keep the Women of Troy atop the college athletics totem pole. Women's swimming heads to the SMU Classic on Friday, while volleyball faces Oregon in Eugene on Friday night. Women's golf will start play in the Stanford Intercollegiate tournament on Friday as well.

21 Pilots

Heading into the 2016-17 season, representatives from each of USC's 21 sports met on top of the AT&T Center for the annual "All 21" photo shoot. The AT&T Center, just two miles from campus, overlooks the skyline of downtown Los Angeles, where the Trojans call home.

Top row, from left to right: Nick Bell (men's water polo), Nina Kelty (lacrosse), Rebekah Ent (cross country), Anika  Apostalon (women's swimming), Eric Sloan (men's track & field), Courtney Jaco (women's basketball), Karen Chung (women's golf), Lucas Yoder (men's volleyball), Reed Malone (men's swimming), Brianna Daboub (women's water polo), Sara Hughes (beach volleyball), Jeremy Martinez (baseball)

Bottom row, from left to right: Zach Banner (football), Zoe Katz (women's tennis), Jordan McLaughlin (men's basketball), Amalie Iuel (women's track & field), Madara Strautmane (rowing), Nick Crystal (men's tennis), Collin Pollard (men's diving), Taylor Whittingham (women's volleyball), Savannah Levin (women's soccer), Sean Crocker (men's golf), Madison Witt (women's diving)
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