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Aces In The Classroom

On the same day that USC women's tennis welcomed a new head coach in Alison Swain, four members of the team earned Pac-12 Academic honors for the 2017 season.

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Gabby Smith, Madison Westby and Rianna Valdes all earned All-Academic Second Team recognition. Smith, an accounting major, and Westby, a communication major, both earned their second straight academic honor.

Valdes, a health promotion and disease prevention major, made the cut in her first year of eligibility. All three of those Women of Troy boast above a 3.5 GPA.

Jessica Failla, meanwhile, earned Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention as an international relations major.


Alison Swain Named USC Women's Tennis Head Coach

IMG_8345.JPGAfter winning eight national titles in 10 years at Williams College, Alison Swain is joining USC as head coach of the women's tennis team.

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Swain posted a 224-28 (.889) record, never finishing worse than third place at the NCAA Championships, during her decade with the D-III Ephs.

"She is a proven winner as a head coach," USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann said of Swain. "Winning a national championship at any level is difficult to do; winning eight of them like Alison has done in a 10-year span is beyond impressive. We are confident that she can bring the Women of Troy to that championship level."

If Swain can come in and make an immediate impact at USC like she did at Williams, the Trojans are in luck. During her first six seasons with the Ephs, Swain won six consecutive national titles -- a D-III record and tying Stanford for the longest streak at any NCAA level.

Swain produced 20 All-Americans during her time at Williams and won ITA National D-III Coach of the Year once, ITA Northeast Coach of the Year twice and NESCAC Coach of the Year five times.

"I have had an incredible 10 years at Williams and am so grateful for the opportunity I was given to coach high-caliber student-athletes and be part of a close-knit and driven athletic department," Swain said. "It is exciting for me to enter into a similar environment at USC. I am honored to have this opportunity to work with the players to create an exciting future for USC women's tennis. I can't wait to meet the entire team and get started."

Swain replaces Richard Gallien, who served as head coach at USC for 22 seasons before stepping down last month. She takes over a team that went 13-11 (6-4 Pac-12), sent two players into the NCAA Singles bracket last season and has made the NCAA Team Championships 26 years in a row.

Heritage Association Spotlight: Heliane Steden

The Heritage Association Spotlight was created to profile USC student-athlete alumni who have given back to the university.

Heliane Steden.jpgThis month, we chatted with USC women's tennis alum Heliane Steden, who earned three All-American honors and two NCAA titles during her time at Troy. Steden now works as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch and serves on USC's Board of Trustees.

In 2013, Steden, who was born in Germany but grew up in Mexico, endowed a women's tennis scholarship in her name -- the largest gift to the USC Athletic Department by a former female student-athlete in the Title IX era.

Aubrey Kragen (AK): Can you tell me a little bit about your time as a student-athlete at USC and how you think it shaped you?

Heliane Steden (HS): My experience was a little bit different than most, because I grew up in Mexico. I was born in Germany, then grew up in Mexico, and when I came to USC, I was like 'OK, I played tennis in Mexico, I was a national champion in Mexico.' I was used to winning in Mexico. But coming to USC, I didn't know anyone at the university -- maybe two people. I did not speak English that well. And everyone was so welcoming. It was an incredible experience. It was a completely different environment, but USC always just felt right. It's completely true about the Trojan Family and completely true that once you're a Trojan, you're always a Trojan.

And playing tennis was great. It was very competitive. When I came in, our freshman class was five very highly-ranked recruits, and it was definitely a battle. A battle that built a lot of character, I think, because at the end of the day, you have to work your way to the top. And it was always a supportive and positive environment.

And with academics, it shapes your character in a very positive way. And that reflects later on in your life experiences.

AK: When and how did you realize that you wanted to endow a scholarship in your name at USC?

HS: It was about four years ago -- [former USC Athletic Director] Pat Haden and [Associate Athletic Director] Scott Jacobson called me and came to New York to have lunch. Over the years, I played professional tennis after school, then I worked in L.A., then I worked in New York, so you lose touch a little bit as life goes on, and I had three children. So when Scott and Pat called me, it was such a welcome feeling to be reconnected to USC. I was incredibly happy to reconnect. And we talked a little bit about how I could be more involved. And my point was, 'What could make an impact and how could I give back?' because that scholarship that I had really shaped where my future went. And I wanted to see if I could do something like that for someone coming in that's in the same situation.

AK: So did your experience as an international student-athlete influence your decision to endow a scholarship intended for other international recruits?

HS: Yes, that was the idea, since I was an international player. It's just a great opportunity for someone to study in the United States and to get the USC education. So ideally yes, it would be shaped towards that, but at the end of the day, I trust who they recruit and I'm happy to see anyone get the opportunity that I had.

AK: How rewarding has it been to see the tennis team and the athletic department directly improve because of your donation and involvement?

HS: Very rewarding. And as time went on, two years ago I became a trustee of the university, so I've been a lot more involved. It's been incredibly exciting to see how USC is progressing literally every day. The academics are incredible, the programs that we have are incredible. Our admissions director called USC the University of the 21st Century, and I think that's absolutely true -- I think we have a cutting edge in everything. So that's been very rewarding. And giving back to tennis, having that scholarship and giving an opportunity to someone --because I know how hard it is to work on your sport, do junior tournaments, get your ranking up, do academics at the same time. It's a lot go hard work. And to be rewarded with a scholarship is quite an honor.

AK: Can you talk me through what your work on USC's Board of Trustees entails?

HS: After I got a little more involved in athletics, Max Nikias invited me to be on a leadership board. So I was on that for a year, and then he invited me to be on the Board of Trustees, which has been an incredible honor. I'm on the Investment Committee -- which falls right into my range of knowledge.  It's been very exciting to be in all the meetings and to find out more about not just the athletics, but also what's going on in the rest of the university. The University Village is an incredible development. The impact that we have on the economy of Los Angeles is incredible. All the achievement and the vision that the university has is very rewarding and exciting.

AK: The scholarship that you endowed is the largest donation to the USC Athletic Department by a former female student-athlete. What does that mean to you?

HS: It was a very pleasant surprise. I also think it's an opportunity for someone else to come in and look at it the same way. I think we all got so much from the university that if we have a chance to give back, it would be a great thing.

AK: Lastly, USC just celebrated its graduating Class of 2017. What advice would you give as they take the next step in their lives?

HS: I think it's all about 'Dream big. Reach high.' If you're reaching high, at least you're trying. Set high goals. Do something that's a little bit different. Take some chances. Because at the end of the day, it's kind of the same thing as it was on the tennis court: If you keep your head down and you work hard and keep trying, it works the same way in the real world. You will reach your goals and you're going to achieve things that you never thought you would.

If you are a member of the USC student-athlete alumni community, or would like more information about the Heritage Association, please click here!

Honor Roll

IMG_8218.JPGSoon after USC women's tennis' season ended on Friday, three Trojans earned 2017 honors from the Pac-12.

USC head coach Richard Gallien was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year, while junior Gabby Smith earned First Team honors and sophomore Jessica Failla earned Second Team honors.

Click here for the full release!

Gallien, who announced earlier this year that he'd step down at the end of the season, earns his sixth career Pac-12 Coach of the Year award. In his 22 seasons at USC, he's led the Women of Troy to a 391-161 (.710) record, not including eight wins and a loss vacated due to NCAA penalty. USC reached the NCAA Tournament every year under Gallien.

USC's two players who earned Pac-12 honors are also the two Trojans competing in the upcoming NCAA Singles Individual Championships.

Smith earned First Team All-Pac-12 honors for the first time in her career, after earning honorable mention last season. The Henderson, NV native went 23-9 this year, playing primarily on Court 2 for the Trojans. She is ranked No. 25 in the nation heading into the NCAA Singles tournament.

Failla garnered her first Pac-12 honor of any kind, landing on the second team. Failla, who is ranked No. 33 in the nation, went 22-7 this year, with a 7-2 mark against ranked opponents.

The NCAA Singles Individual Championships take place in Athens, GA from May 24-29.

State of Troy - May 2017

Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

usc-beach-volleyball-pepperdine-ncaa-championship-mcgillen-050617-8842.jpgSwann on USC beach volleyball's third consecutive national championship...

Winning a championship is everybody's goal, but it is hard to attain. A three-peat is absolutely remarkable. It is one of the unique historical accomplishments to happen in any sport. For our top pair, Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes, their record is extraordinary. They will not realize how big this is for quite some time, and it is only going to get bigger.

Swann on the reaction to the recently-unveiled Coliseum seating plan after the renovation...

The messaging that went out last week was really well received. Most importantly, people understand it. Of course, there are a few folks fearful of change, but change is inevitable in any renovation and necessary in our situation. We will be sure to communicate with every one of our Trojan Athletic Fund members and season-ticket holders one-on-one to address their concerns as we believe that we have a suitable option for everyone. The fundraising support has been tremendous, and we are extremely grateful to all our loyal alumni and fans. At the end of the day, I believe that the Trojan Family will be happy with the changes that we are making and embrace the new seating grid. We will come together, support this football program, support this cause and turn out in full force for years to come. We will Fight On.

Click here for more information on the Coliseum renovation!

Swann on the APR report...

I'm very proud of our student-athletes for their conscientious efforts in the classroom that have led to a best-ever department APR of 976. To have nearly half of our 21 teams record their highest APR in history is a testament to our focus on the "student" part of the student-athlete equation. We should also acknowledge the emphasis our coaches put on the academic performance of their teams and the support provided by our staff in the Stevens Academic Center.

Swann on Commencement Week...

This is my first time here for graduation week as the athletic director, and it is very exciting. Congratulations to all the seniors and post-grads on earning your degrees. I am looking forward to the Student-Athlete Graduation on Thursday and then the main ceremony on Friday. Unfortunately, some of our student-athletes will miss graduation because they are competing in postseason tournaments. It is one of the difficult aspects of being an athlete. But, our student-athletes put so much time and effort into competing for championships that I know they are willing to make the sacrifice to reach for their goals.

usc-womens-water-polo-princeton-2017-mcgillen-5185.jpgSwann on the rest of the spring sport calendar...

Men's and women's golf are beginning their road to the NCAA Championships. The men are in a great position as head coach Chris Zambri has done an excellent job. They had to battle snowy conditions at the Pac-12 Championships in Colorado, which maybe threw them off their game a bit, but they have an opportunity to win the program's first national championship. Andrea Gaston always seems to put the women's team in a position to succeed in the postseason, so I look forward to seeing what they do as well.

Women's water polo will battle for the NCAA title this weekend in Indianapolis. They will go in as the three-seed. They are used to being on top, but they have taken a couple losses lately. It all comes down to the NCAA Tournament though, and Jovan Vavic knows how to win championships.

Men's and women's tennis also begin NCAA Tournament play this week. The men have been playing beautifully, including winning the Pac-12 Tournament, and I expect them to compete for more hardware at the NCAA Championships. The women's team has really improved late in the season, so they could have a good showing as well.

Women's lacrosse has to travel to Florida for the postseason. Coach Lindsey Munday has had this team ready to play from day one. They have grown in confidence every step of the way. I look for them to continue their outstanding play.

Men's and women's track & field will battle for the conference championship this weekend up in Oregon. They have had a great season. I really enjoyed the Dual Meet win for the Women of Troy over UCLA, but the men fell a little bit short. I think both teams are peaking towards postseason competition.

Baseball continues on with a trip to Utah this week. We hope to put together a late season run after a tough couple of weeks.

Women's rowing is working hard. They have a difficult schedule with all the travel, but I think they will make a good showing at the Pac-12 Championships this week. It's that time of year. Everybody is competing and pushing to win hardware.

Smart And Sporty

Five Trojan teams recently earned Public Recognition Awards from the NCAA for their outstanding performance in the classroom.

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USC baseball, men's volleyball, women's cross country, women's golf and women's tennis teams all earned the awards, which are based upon teams' commitment to academic progress and retention of student-athletes by achieving multiyear Academic Progress Rates (APR) within the top 10 percent in their respective sports. A team's APR comprises eligibility, retention and graduation.

This recognition comes just around a week before the latest class of USC student-athletes graduates. Student-athlete commencement takes place on May 11 at the Galen Center.


Sterling Smith

After clinching USC women's tennis' 4-3 victory over UCLA this weekend, junior Gabby Smith earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors.

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It's the third such honor this season for the Henderson, NV native -- more than any other player in the Pac-12 can claim. Smith, who's ranked No. 20 in the nation, has posted an undefeated record at the No. 2 spot and a 13-6 record overall in this year's dual meet action.

On the heels of their victory over UCLA, the Women of Troy are preparing for the Pac-12 Team Championships in Ojai, CA this week. USC faces Washington State in the first round on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Wild Ride In Westwood

Senior Gabby Smith served as the clincher as USC women's tennis pulled off a comeback win over UCLA this weekend.

Click here for the full recap!

The No. 32 Trojans dropped the doubles point to the No. 22 Bruins, but showed their Fight On spirit in singles to pull off the upset.

USC charged out of the gates in singles, winning the first three matches to take a 3-1 lead in Westwood. But the Bruins evened it up with two wins of their own, turning all eyes to Court 2, where USC's Smith battled UCLA's Terri Fleming.

Smith dropped the first set in a tiebreak, but won the second set, 6-3. Under immense pressure, the Henderson, NV native delivered in the third set, winning 6-4 to clinch a 4-3 victory for USC.

Click here to watch Smith and the Trojans react to their win!

USC hopes to carry its momentum into the Pac-12 Tournament, which begins this Thursday in Ojai, CA.

Check out team photographer John McGillen's photos from the match!

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.

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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.

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