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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.

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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)

A Pair at the Pinnacle

USC women's tennis' No. 1 pair, and the nation's sixth-best duo of Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith, capped off their 2016 season by receiving All-American honors for the first time in the doubles category. The senior-sophomore tag team compiled a 19-9 overall record this season, going 10-5 in dual matches.

A two-time All-Pac-12 First Team honoree and 2015 ITA All-American in singles, Olmos wrapped up her USC playing days this spring with a 105-44 record in singles and a 103-40 mark in doubles. Smith, her most recent partner, earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention this year and is receiving All-American status for the first time in her career. 

Tennis Season's Over

While USC women's tennis was knocked out in the second round, the men advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in Tulsa before dropping a dramatic dual to Georgia. The Trojans and Bulldogs are two of the sport's superpowers, and they engaged in a classic match with Georgia ultimately prevailing, 4-3.

"I think with matches like that you have this overwhelming sense of being a part of something that is bigger than you. It's such a great rivalry between UGA and us," said USC head coach Peter Smith. "To play that quality of a match for three and half hours, you really feel like it's an honor and a privilege to be a part of it. It hurts to lose, but it was just a great match."

Click here for the recap.

While USC men's tennis spent most of the season in the national Top 10, the 2016 campaign is almost a rebuilding year by the national championship standards of the program. The Trojans have plenty of help on the way as Smith and his staff reeled in the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, and USC loses only one senior, Max de Vroome (pictured).


Malibu Magic

USC women's tennis will begin its NCAA journey just a short drive away along the coastal cliffs of Malibu. The Women of Troy will open against UNLV on Friday, May 13, and a win sets up a date with either host No. 8 Pepperdine or Idaho on Saturday, May 14.

Click here for more.

After a 12-5 season, USC made the NCAA Tournament for the 25th consecutive time, including a semifinal run last year. Head coach Richard Gallien, who has presided over the last 21 of those 25 straight postseason appearances, has built the team around two-time All-American Giuliana Olmos as well as sophomore standouts Madison Westby and Gabby Smith, versatile junior Zoe Katz, and freshmen phenoms Jessica Failla and Rianna Valdes.


GuGu For Two!

pac12-olmos.jpgUSC women's tennis senior Giuliana Olmos has led the line for the Women of Troy for two years now and received back-to-back All-Pac-12 First Team honors for her efforts.

This season, Olmos compiled a singles record of 19-11 overall and 11-4 in dual match play (5-1 in conference), earning a spot in the NCAA Singles Championship. She also played on the top doubles team with Gabby Smith, ranked No. 4 in the country after going 17-8, and they were invited to compete in the NCAA Tournament as well.

Click here for the complete release.

Three other Trojans earned Pac-12 Honorable Mention: junior Zoe Katz and sophomores Madison Westby and Gabby Smith.

Semifinal Sayonara

Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

After reaching the Pac-12 championship the last four seasons, the No. 8 USC men's tennis team failed to make it a fifth time, falling in the semifinals to No. 16 Cal, 4-1. The Trojans are now 15-6 on the season with a good chance of heading to the NCAA Tournament, looking for their 10th consecutive trip to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Click here for a full recap from the men's semifinal loss in the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Women of Troy were also competing this weekend in Ojai, California for individual Pac-12 titles. Both Gabby Smith and Giuliana Olmos lost in the semifinals for both singles and doubles. No. 4 Olmos lost to the tournament's top seed on the singles side, while the duo lost to the No. 22 pair from ASU, 6-2.

Click here for a complete recap of the Women of Troy's weekend.

Both the No. 8 USC men's tennis team and the No. 19 USC women's tennis team will now await their NCAA team championship announcement which will come on May 3.


Streak Ends in Ojai

Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

USC_Womens_tennis_UCSB__6571.jpgThe No. 19 USC women's tennis team lost a 4-2 heart-breaker to No. 13 Stanford in a battle for the Pac-12 title on Wednesday, ending its nine-match winning streak. The Women of Troy jumped out to an early lead after winning the doubles point, but couldn't hold on when it came down to the wire in singles play.

Click here for a full recap from Wednesday's loss. 

The Women of Troy were treated to dinner with USC athletic director Pat Haden after the match to celebrate their ongoing season (photo below)

The Trojans are now 12-5 entering the NCAA team championships with the bracket being announced on May 3. Currently, USC is competing in the Pac-12 singles and doubles championships, which also take place in Ojai, through April 24. Be sure to follow @USCWomensTennis for match updates, photos and more. 


Perfect in the Pac

Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

As a part of a doubleheader with the men's team on Sunday, USC women's tennis took care of its match-up against the women of UCLA with a 4-1 victory at Marks Stadium. The win saw the No. 21 Women of Troy improve to 12-4 on the year, as well as a perfect 7-0 in Pac-12 play. The Trojans also gained five points in the annual Crosstown Cup standings with the overall score now 75-60 in favor of USC.

USC jumped out to an early lead by taking the doubles point. The top pairing of Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith (pictured) won their doubles match, 6-3, and soon after the doubles point was clinched by the freshman duo of Jessica Failla and Rianna Valdes, who won 6-3 as well. In fact, it was a pretty big day for the two freshmen overall.

While Failla and Valdes have only played one season apiece at USC, they both are making quite the statement on the court already. Valdes was the first to win her singles match on Sunday, taking her match 6-2, 6-3. While one freshman got things started, the other closed things out, as Failla clinched the dual match victory with a 6-2, 6-4 win of her own.

While the Women of Troy were able to take down their rivals, the men fell 4-2 in a tight match against the No. 4 Bruins.

Following their victory over UCLA, there's even more on the line this week when the Women of Troy travel to Ojai, Calif. to face Stanford for the Pac-12 crown on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. PT. Be sure to follow @USCWomensTennis for in-match updates, photos and more on Wednesday. 

Check out all the John McGillen photos from Sunday...

Double Doubles


Ten points and a lot of pride are on the line this Sunday when No. 9 USC men's and No. 21 USC women's tennis host an unprecedented doubleheader against UCLA at Marks Stadium. Beginning at 12:30, both teams will play simultaneous doubles against the Bruins. At 1:30, the men's team will take on UCLA in singles with both women's teams facing each other in singles afterwards to conclude the day. 

All four teams are in contention for Pac-12 titles as they approach their final regular season dual match of the season this Saturday. UCLA men's tennis is 6-0 just ahead of the Trojan men who are 5-1. While both teams still have to play in the Pac-12 Championships next week, the victor of the game on Sunday will receive the No. 1 seed. Senior Max De Vroome, the 19th-best player in the country, leads the Trojans with 28 singles wins on the year. 

Led by the nation's 24th-best player, Giuliana Olmos, the Women of Troy are undefeated at 6-0 (three matches were cancelled by rain), while the UCLA women are 6-2 (with one match cancelled by rain). Sunday's game could determine the 2016 Pac-12 champions if the Trojans are able to beat the Bruins and Cal (7-0) loses to Stanford on Saturday. If Cal defeats Stanford, the Trojans and Bears will clash on Wednesday before the individual Pac-12 Championships begin to determine the 2016 Pac-12 team champions. 

Be sure to follow @USCMensTennis and @USCWomensTennis for in-match updates and more on Sunday! 

Sweeping the Sun Devils

Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

Rain might have pushed back action from Saturday to Sunday for No. 24 USC's women's tennis, but it did not stop the Women of Troy from taking care of business against No. 26 Arizona State. In a 4-0 sweep, the Trojans capitalized on sunny conditions, taking the doubles point and then wrapping up the contest without losing a singles match.

The win improves USC to 11-4 on the season and 6-0 in Pac-12 play.

Click here for the full recap.

In the win over ASU, Madison Westby (pictured) and Zoe Katz stepped up in a big way. The pair won its doubles match, 6-1, and didn't drop a set in their respective singles matches.

With their undefeated Pac-12 season on the line, the Women of Troy will take part in an unorthodox doubleheader with USC's men's tennis this weekend, hosting the crosstown showdown with UCLA at Marks Stadium on Sunday (April 17). Doubles matches will begin at 12:30 p.m. PT. USC and UCLA's men will head into singles play at 1:30 p.m. PT, with the women to play right after.

Pac-12 Networks will televise all the singles matches, for both the men and women, on Sunday.


Keep the Good Times Rolling

Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

USC's women's tennis extended its current winning streak to five games with an impressive 7-0 sweep of the No. 35 Oregon Ducks last Friday at Marks Stadium. The win saw the No. 29 Trojans improve to 8-4 on the year and stay undefeated in Pac-12 play at 3-0.

Click here for the recap.

The Women of Troy secured the doubles point very quickly with wins from their top doubles pairs. Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith (pictured) won their match 6-0, and then Zoe Katz and Madison Westby clinched the doubles point for the Trojans, winning their match 6-2.

From there, the Trojans took care of the Ducks in all six of their singles matches. Olmos, ranked No. 22 in the country, set the tone for singles play with a three-set victory. But it was the sophomore Smith who went undefeated in both of her doubles and singles matches to lead the way against Oregon.

The Women of Troy will look to stay undefeated in the Pac-12 when they take on Utah in Salt Lake City this Friday at 12:30 p.m. PT. After that, the Trojans will head down to Boulder to face Colorado on Sunday at 11 a.m. PT. Be sure to follow @USCWomensTennis on Twitter to keep up with all the upcoming action!


Much Improved in March

After a difficult stretch in February, in which the USC women's tennis team went 1-4 against a slew of tough opponents including Florida and No. 1 Cal, the Trojans have rebounded in the month of March to advance their overall record to 7-4. Last weekend, the Women of Troy took down Baylor at the BNP Paribas Open Collegiate Challenge for their fourth straight victory of the month.

The duo of Zoe Katz and Madison Westby came up big early in the match, battling in a tiebreaker to claim a 7-6 (2) win and earn USC's first points of the day. From there, the Trojans made quick work of their opponent, securing three consecutive singles points en route to a 4-0 win. Gabby Smith, Rihanna Valdes and Giuliana Oleos each won their singles matches in two dominating sets to close out the successful day in Indian Wells.

The Women of Troy could not have picked a better time for a hot streak as they enter the thick of Pac-12 play this week. First up, the Trojans host Oregon at 1:30 p.m. PT on Friday at Marks Stadium. Be sure to follow @USCWomensTennis for match updates, photos and more!

Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

USC women's tennis opened Pac-12 play this weekend with back-to-back victories over No. 41 Washington and No. 47 Washington State at Marks Stadium. The Women of Troy took down Washington, 5-2, on Friday and Washington State, 5-1, on Saturday.

Click here for a full recap of the win over Washington.

Click here for a full recap of the win over Washington State.

Senior Giuliana Olmos (pictured) was a big reason why, setting the tone for her young team in Pac-12 play. In her singles match against the Huskies, Olmos lost just one game to her opponent, winning convincingly, 6-0, 6-1. Earlier in the day, she won her doubles match with partner Gabby Smith, 6-4.

On Saturday, the senior picked up right where she left off by taking care of her singles match again, winning 6-0, 6-3. However, no doubles matches were played due to weather issues.

Olmos wasn't the only Trojan to win both of her singles matches this weekend, as junior Zoe Katz and freshman Jessica Failla brought home singles sweeps over both Washington schools.

Following these victories, the Women of Troy will take their undefeated Pac-12 record to the Bay this weekend for duals against Stanford and California.

The Lone Alpha

Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor 

Tennis is one of the loneliest sports in the world. It takes a certain person, a certain animal, to face and thrive under the isolation and mental obstacles that come up during a match. In many ways, successful tennis players have to act like a lone alpha wolf, looking out for themselves and abiding by nature's primary rule: survival of the fittest. While the professionals are stuck in a career of isolation, college tennis teams function less like lone wolves and more like packs.

A lone alpha is to a pack of wolves as star senior Giuliana Olmos is to USC women's tennis. One of only two seniors on her team, this season when she looks around her locker room there are only two other players who are not underclassmen. 

"I had other people to look up to and now I guess I'm the one they're supposed to look up to," says Olmos with a laugh. "I'm the lonely one." 

Expectations may be sky high for the reigning Pac-12 champions, and for a player who finished last season ranked No. 15 in the country, but Olmos is still focused on enjoying the ride.


"I'm just trying to enjoy each match as much as I can. I'm just playing with my best friends out there," said the reminiscent Olmos. "It's a lot of fun. I've loved every minute of being here at SC and playing for them." 

She has loved every minute, but this season presents perhaps the biggest challenge of her career. Her young team has, in her own words, "gotten off to a bumpy start", with a  3-4 record including losses to California and Florida. If you know Olmos' story, however, you know the past two decades have prepared her for this very season. 

Olmos, who plays both singles and doubles for USC, started playing tennis before the age of six, and naturally became more and more committed. "Tennis was literally my life," recounted Olmos.

From training two hours a day at the age of eight, to being home schooled at age 14 so she could practice six-to-eight hours a day, Olmos prepared herself for a potentially long career in tennis. Without knowing so at the time, she was also preparing for her senior year.

At an early age, she idolized the aggression of tennis greats like Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. As she grew, she learned the value of discipline - both mental and physical - and the focus it took to be one of the sport's elite. This past summer, while on her own in individual tournaments away from her teammates and coaches, she discovered even more the importance of mental strength.

"When I'm on the court I have to be my own best friend... Otherwise I'm going to be playing against myself," said Olmos. 

Her mental strength allows her to stay composed in her own matches and talk her teammates through adversity. She also says she's gotten better at being able to adapt to different players' styles, which is knowledge she can certainly pass on to younger players. 

Olmos loves leading her team, but soon it will be her turn to leave the pack. While it is bittersweet for the senior to leave behind the memories, championships and the Cardinal & Gold, she knows all of her hard work and dreaming is about to pay off.

"They've all helped me grow as a person and they've been so supportive here at my time at USC. They really are a family to me," said Olmos emotionally. "But I'm super excited to go out and play pro, and finally get to do what I've been training my whole life for."

But before this lone senior becomes a lone alpha in the professional tennis circuit, she has one last chance to lead the pack at USC. Her goals are to push herself to repeat as an All-American and her team as Pac-12 champions, work that continues with a new slate this weekend.

The path to win the Pac-12 starts Friday and Saturday at Marks Stadium against Washington and Washington State. The Women of Troy host the Huskies at 1:30 p.m. on Friday and take on the Cougars on Saturday at 12 p.m. Be sure to follow @USCWomenTennis for in-match updates and more all season long.

USC_W_Tennis_Vandy_NCAA_051815_MCG1841 (1).jpg

Watch Tennis Cut the Ribbon

USC men's and women's tennis will officially unveil the renovated Marks Tennis Stadium this afternoon at 2 p.m. PT.

Click here to watch the LIVE STREAM!

The event, which includes the dedication of the Buntmann Family Tennis Center, Fritz B. Burns Center Court, Lisa and Douglas Goldman Family Student-Athlete Learning Studio, John and Gil Shea Men's Tennis Suite and Michael Uytengsu Tennis Pavilion will be live streamed for the entire Trojan Family to watch.


Challenged on the Coast

The No. 4 USC women's tennis team traveled across the country last weekend for two challenging matches against South Florida and No. 3 Florida. Victorious over the Bulls in a 6-1 win on Saturday, the Trojans fell to a tough Gator team on Sunday, 7-0.

Click here for a complete recap from Saturday's victory

Click here for a recap of USC's loss to Florida on Sunday.

The duos of Jessica Failla and Zoe Katz and Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith helped secure the doubles point and give the Women of Troy a head start on Saturday. All four doubles competitors went on to win their singles matches in two sets, and Madison Westby emerged victorious from her match in three sets to give USC the dual match win over South Florida.

On Sunday, USC struggled against a Florida team that boasts ranked players at every position in the lineup. After winning the doubles point early, the Gators continued to gain momentum with five consecutive two-set victories. Only Smith was able to take her match to three sets.

Now possessing a 3-2 overall record on the year, the Women of Troy have over a week to rest and reset before hosting Cal at Marks Stadium on February 19 (1:30 p.m. PT).
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