The last time the USC women’s tennis team rallied against its crosstown rival, UCLA, it was competing in its final regular-season dual match.
USC posted a 5-2 victory, which secured its Pac-10 championship crown while maintaining an undefeated conference record and a 12-match winning streak heading into the postseason.
Today, No. 12 USC (7-3) will play No. 4 UCLA (11-1) under far different circumstances.
This time around USC is hoping to shake off last Friday’s 5-2 loss to No. 5 California, while UCLA is coming in fresh off an impressive upset victory over the Bears last Sunday during a close match that lasted over five hours.
“A win today would be a big confidence boost for our team,” said junior Maria Sanchez, USC’s No. 3 nationally ranked singles player.
“But in order to beat UCLA, we have to really want it and we have to compete hard,” Sanchez added.
Sanchez was honored with the Pac-10 Player of the Week for last week’s dominating triumphs over Cal’s No. 2 Jana Juricova in a tough three-set match (6-1, 2-6, 6-3), in addition to a smooth 6-2, 6-2 win over San Diego State’s No. 58 Julia Trunk. Sanchez boasts an 8-1 singles record this season.
Sanchez’s singles competition today will be against No. 5 Yasmin Schnack.
USC is 42-31 all-time against the Bruins. USC was ranked No. 10 last week but dropped in the polls to No. 12 after their loss to Cal. UCLA remained at the same ranking at No. 4 this week. Cal dropped from No. 3 to No. 5.
“Every match is important to win,” said Danielle Lao, the No. 22 USC freshman. “Our team morale is just as strong as ever, and we’re hungry to go out and compete for something we work so hard for.”
Today’s match will be held at Marks Stadium at 1:30 p.m.