February 2015 (2) Candygrams

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Sunday, February 28, 2015---USC Men's Tennis vs. Tulsa

Trojan Candy went to Marks Tennis Stadium for the Men's Tennis team match against the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. I arrived as the teams were practicing.

Our Men practicing on the court.
Giuliana Olmos, Zoe Katz, and Drew and Jacob Morcos
Two Women of Troy tennis players, Giuliana Olmos and Zoe Katz, visited with Team Physical Therapist Drew Morcos and his son Jacob on the court.
National Anthem video
Before the match started, the teams lined up for the Star Spangled Banner in the video above.
Team huddle
Our men huddled and then took the court to compete in the Doubles matches.
 Jonny Wang and Yannick Hanfmann
On Court 2 were Jonny Wang and Yannick Hanfmann.
Roberto Quiroz and Eric Johnson
On Court 1 were Roberto Quiroz and Eric Johnson.

Thibault Forget and Tanner SmithOn Court 3 were Freshmen Thibault Forget and Tanner Smith.

The Freshman pair won their set first, and then Jonny and Yannick won their doubles. So our men won the Doubles point.

Before the Singles matches started, Trojan Candy was able to interview two new friends in the stands. Women of Troy Tennis teammates Meredith Xepoleas and Giuliana Olmos were sitting right in front of me.

Meredith Xepoleas I interviewed Meredith first. Meredith said the she and her mom started playing tennis at the same time. She was six years old at the time. Her family moved from Sacramento to Palm Springs. At USC, Meredith, who is a Freshman, said that she may change her major from English to History. Meredith is an accomplished writer and has already won an award for her short story, "Sal and Pep: The 12:10 to Cheyenne." She wrote a novel, but it is untitled. Asked about any hobbies, .... Meredith said that she likes to write and, not surprisingly, read! Her favorite book is Treasure Island, and she likes to read classical stuff. She said that she is not too "big into music." How does she have the time for music anyway? Her favorite food is chocolate and coffee. Finally, Trojan Candy asked Meredith why she chose USC. She said that she liked the coaches and that USC is close to her home. Trojan Candy is so glad that she is a Trojan! Such a bright future! FIGHT ON, Meredith!

Giuliana OlmosSitting next to Meredith was Giuliana "GiuGiu" Olmos. Giuliana, a red-shirt Junior, is from Northern California. She is majoring in International Relations. Her favorite hobby is shopping for clothes. Like Meredith, Giuliana likes to read. Her favorite author is James Patterson. Unlike Meredith, GiuGiu likes music. She likes Rap, R & B, Pop, Techno and Mainstream music. Quite a variety! Giuliana's favorite foods are pasta and chicken. She said that she really likes to eat carbs. Trojan Candy knows that she needs quick energy to compete and to win her matches. FIGHT ON, Giuliana!

Farren ConnorRob BellamyAfter interviewing Meredith and Giuliana, Trojan Candy returned to the ongoing Men's tennis matches. The two Doubles Freshmen, Thibault Forget and Tanner Smith, did not play in the Singles. Two other Trojans played in the Singles matches. On Court 5 there was Sophomore Rob Bellamy, and on Court 6 there was fellow Sophomore Farren Connor.

Steve JohnsonAs I walked in the stands taking pictures of the singles action, Trojan Candy saw the smiling face of a Men's tennis alumnus. Steve Johnson (4/26/2012) was in town and came to see the match. Steve won four NCAA team titles when he played at USC. He said that he travels ten months of the year on the pro-tennis circuit. How nice it was to see him again. Keep FIGHTING ON, Steve!

Zoe KatzUnfortunately, our team was not over-powering the Tulsa team in singles. To take my mind off of the battle going on, I saw Woman of Troy tennis player Zoe Katz walk to the top of the stands. What a perfect time to interview her. Luckily, she obliged. Zoe is a Sophomore majoring in Psychology. Tennis runs in Zoe's family. Both her father and grandmother played tennis, and Zoe has been playing tennis since she was four years old. Zoe was born in France and moved to Los Angeles when she was two years old. She took French in high school at Campbell Hall, so she has maintained her bilingualism. She has lots of family here in Los Angeles. Zoe said that she love animals and that she goes with friends to shelters to care for animals. More personally, Zoe said that she has a sweet tooth. Her favorite books are biographies and comedies. She likes alternative music. Then Trojan Candy found out that Zoe is good friends with a good friend of mine. We both know Ray Sarmiento (3/11/2011)! She said that Ray is training for the Future's Tour in Connecticut and that he will be traveling on tour to Asia. Zoe promised to keep me up to date on Ray. Thanks, Zoe and FIGHT ON!

Thibault ForgetAs I was interviewing Zoe, Freshman Men's tennis player Thibault Forget was hovering near us. I also noticed how gregarious he was, especially among the women tennis players. As soon as I finished interviewing Zoe, he came right up to me to say, "Hello." Naturally, I interviewed him next. Thibault told me that he has been in the United States for only two months. His English is impeccable! Right now, he is undeclared in his major. For his hobby, he likes to play music. Thibault plays the piano and the guitar. His favorite music is classical and electrical. As for food, Thibault loves sushi. How unusual a taste for someone from Rennes, France! Thibault's dad is Guy Forget who was a professional tennis player and who played for France in the Davis Cup. Thibault started playing tennis at the age of four and he still likes to practice with his dad. This keeps both of them in shape. Thibault's favorite movies are "Inception" and "Interstellar" because he said that the viewer has to think a lot in these movies. His favorite book is The Alchemist by Pado Cuehlo. Trojan Candy asked Thibault why he chose USC. He said that Coach Krzysztof Kwinta visited him in France last September and that he liked Coach Kris immediately. Plus, when Thibault came to visit Los Angeles, he loved our warm, mild weather. Our climate will allow him to play twelve months a year! Thank you for coming to USC and FIGHT ON, Thibault!

Jonny WangMy last picture of the match is of Jonny Wang shaking hands with his opponent. Jonny was the only Trojan singles winner today. Unfortunately, we lost the match to Tulsa 5-2. There will be better days ahead for our Men's Tennis Team! FIGHT ON, USC Men's Tennis!

Trojan Candy had a fabulous day! I got to meet and interview four new friends!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015---Tennis Stadium Renovation Groundbreaking

Trojan Candy arrived early at the Mark's Tennis Stadium. I was able to find a seat in the front row. What a perfect seat for taking pictures!

The sign tells it all .... Marks Tennis Stadium is going to be renovated!
Shovels and hats
The shovels and hats are ready.
Candy Yee, Karen Bowman, and Pat and Dudley Poon
Friend Scott Wandzilak took this picture of Karen Bowman, my sister Pat, brother-in-law Dudley, and yours truly before the ceremony began. Why? We are donating toward the stadium seating section for Court 3.
Peter Smith autographing book
Men's Tennis Coach Peter Smith signed the Profiles of USC Athletics/2012 book for my sister Pat. Notice the Championship Ring!
Jim Eddy with Pat and Dudley Poon
Trojan Candy saw three friends before the ceremony started. Jim Eddy posed with Pat and Dudley.
Pat and Dudley Poon with Abe Markowitz and Jackie Owens
Then, Abe Markowitz and his girlfriend Jackie Owens also posed with Pat and Dudley.
Art Bartner with Spirit of Troy
Then, we heard the music. The Spirit of Troy marched in. That means the Groundbreaking Ceremony will begin!
Pat Haden
Athletic Director Pat Haden opened the ceremony.

Pat spoke a little about our proud Men's and Women's Tennis athletic heritage of 28 NCAA titles that is only one less than the 29 titles that have been won by Men's and Women's Track and Field. Then he introduced the major donors, Gary and Barbara Buntmann.

Rich Gallien
Women of Troy Tennis Coach Rich Gallien took the podium next.
Peter Smith
He was followed by the Men's Tennis Coach Peter Smith.

Two student athletes followed the coaches.

Zoe Scandalis Eric JohnsonWomen of Troy Senior Zoe Scandalis spoke first. Zoe was introduced as a two-time All-American, who has a 3.9 GPA in Political Economics. Zoe said that she is lucky to be at USC where everyone is so supportive.

Next, the Men's captain, Senior Eric Johnson, spoke next. Eric was introduced, like Zoe, as a two-time All-American. Eric has also won two NCAA Tennis National Championships at USC.

Gary BuntmannPeter Smith After Zoe and Eric spoke, major donor Gary Buntmann walked up to the podium with a shopping bag. Mr. Buntmann explained that the present tennis office, under the stands, is fondly called the "Garage" by the coaches and the athletes. After saying that he had a gift for Coach Peter Smith, Gary handed the bag to Coach Smith. Coach Smith looked in the bag and pulled out a box with gold wrapping. He quickly unwrapped and opened the box. It contained a garage opener!

Garage opener
The garage opener was cardinal with with three yellow buttons with "U," "S," and "C" on the buttons and labeled "Tennis Garage."
Now it was time for the formal ground-breaking ceremony. The symbolic "ground" was ready.
Here are the participants for the ceremony. Confetti and the Spirit of Troy ended the ceremony.

As the audience walked over to Dedeaux Field for lunch, Trojan Candy was able to take pictures of some friends and interview, not one, but two new friends.

Eric JohnsonEric Johnson was standing by himself, so Trojan Candy walked right over to him and asked him if I could interview him. He said that he saw fellow teammates Yannick's and Jonny's pictures and interviews in my blog (1/25/2015). I had to work fast. Eric is majoring in Accounting. He had an internship at Ernst and Young last summer and has a job offer from them after he graduates in May. For hobbies, he likes to play the guitar and video games. His favorite game is "Call of Duty." Eric's favorite food is sushi and Korean barbecue. As for music, he likes rock. Lastly, Eric's favorite movie is "Never Back Down." What an appropriate choice.... Eric is relentless on the tennis court. Women of Troy Tennis TeamTrojan Candy has seen him play for three years so far! In last year's NCAA Championships, Eric won an award for never losing a singles match throughout the entire tournament! FIGHT ON, Eric!

I was able to take this picture of some of the Women of Troy Tennis Team with shovels.

Jackie OwensThen, as I walked over to Dedeaux Field, I caught up with tennis alumna Jackie Owens. We talked as we walked! Jackie graduated from USC in 2013. She was a Communication Major. Now, she is working with the NFL Network. Fantastic! She said that she still has time to play some tennis. Her favorite book is Harry Potter. Jackie likes Japanese food the best. That makes sense since she was born in Los Angeles, but moved to Lahaina, Hawaii. Her parents still live in Hawaii. Jackie transferred from Pepperdine to join the Women of Troy. Thank goodness she became a Trojan! She met her boyfriend Abe Markowitz here at USC! FIGHT ON, Jackie!

Women's Tennis loungeMen's Tennis suiteAs I was getting my food, I took these two pictures of the renderings of the future Men's Tennis Suite and Women's Tennis lounge. Beautiful....they certainly don't look like the Garage!

Dick LeachAfter lunch Trojan Candy saw one more friend. Former USC Men's Tennis Coach Dick Leach smiled for this picture. We had previously given him his Heritage Hall medallion. Later he graciously wrote me an email saying that it was so nice to see me today. Thank you, Coach Leach!

What a wonderful celebration! Trojan Candy can't wait to see the new tennis stadium in about a year!

Sunday, February 22, 2015---Women of Troy Senior Salute

Our two Women of Troy Basketball Seniors, Kaneisha Horn and Alexyz Vaioletama, were honored tonight before the Arizona State game.

Trojan Candy was able to take pictures of their families in the tunnel before the ceremony.

Falemanu and Tamole
Alexyz's grandparents Falemanu and Tamole posed first.
Al and Caroline Vaioletama
Then, her proud parents, Al and Caroline, smiled for this picture.
Alexyz's brothers
Lastly I photographed her three brothers.
T.J. Coleman and Lashon Harris
Kaneisha's Uncle T.J. Coleman and Aunt Lashon Harris posed for this picture.
video highlights of Kaneisha Horn and Alexyz Vaioletama
Click the thumbnail to view highlights of the careers of Kaneisha Horn and Alexyx Vaioletama.
Alexyz Vaioletama
Alexyz was honored first. She was quite happy as she walked out onto the court.

Her family and Coach Cooper-Dyke stood with her on the court. What a proud family! Trojan Candy has known Alexyz since she was a Freshman, when I interviewed her in Heritage Hall (6/23/2011). Her coaches and teammates know her as "X." FIGHT ON, Alexyz!

Kaneisha Horn
Now, it was Kaneisha's turn to come onto the court.
Kaneisha's uncle and Coach Prentice Beverly with Kaneisha and Coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke
Her uncle and her coach, Prentice Beverly, who has coached Kaneisha since the 9th grade, joined Kaneisha and Coach Cooper-Dyke on the court.

Her coaches and teammates know her as "Kane." FIGHT ON, Kaneisha!

Arizona State
Now it was time for the starting line-ups. The Number 12 ranked Arizona State Sun Devils were introduced first.
USC starting lineup
Next, this video shows our Women of Troy starting line-up.
USC on defense
Here is a picture featuring our two Seniors on defense.
Song Girls
Our Song Girls entertained the fans.
Dance Force
Our Dance Force marveled the fans with their dance moves.
Dance Force
Dance Force finished a routine.
Alexyz Vaioletama
"X" shoots a free throw in the first half.

In regulation, we were behind 37-29 at halftime and finally got ahead of the Sun Devils at the 7:23 mark, 53 to 52 only to see it end in a tie.

The game was tight through not only regulation but also two overtimes.

Kaneisha Horn
"Kane" shoots a free throw in the overtime.

Unfortunately, we lost in double overtime 76-73. Our Women of Troy were valiant in battling the 12th ranked Sun Devils. FIGHT ON, Women of Troy!

Congratulations, Kaneisha! Congratulations, Alexyz!