Think of it as an NCAA championship preview.
The USC women’s tennis team is in Ann Arbor, Mich., to kick-off the opening rounds of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Indoors Championships.
“Indoor [tennis] is a whole different animal,” said USC head coach Richard Gallien. “It’s a bit like baseball at Coors Field, the ball doesn’t spin as much and it just flies.”
For the Women of Troy, the tournament will be a whole different animal this year.
The top-ranked teams, usually including USC, host the opening rounds.
This year, however, the Women of Troy find themselves ranked 18th, and are forced to travel to earn their spot in the final 16.
“It’s a new experience for us,” Gallien said. “But it’s a big chance for us to put on a little grizzle and toughness.”
Joining USC in Ann Arbor is No. 46 North Carolina State, with first serve scheduled for 7 a.m. PT on Saturday.
“That’s just the deal,” Gallien said. “We’ve been getting up early this whole week to try and acclimate ourselves.”
Assuming it wins, USC will face either No. 56 Auburn or No. 8 Michigan, who is hosting the four teams this weekend.
Despite the competition, coach Gallien feels pretty confident in his team.
“I’m a pretty conservative guy,” Gallien said. “But I feel confident about NC St.”
The bigger challenge, he says, will come against Michigan.
“We don’t get 1,000 fans at our matches here,” he said. “But there, indoors, they’ll have that. It’ll be hairy.”
Nonetheless, Gallien remains confident in his squad.
“I think we’ll win. We’re healthy and in good shape, and mentally in a good place. I feel pretty good about it”
If the Women of Troy come away on top this weekend, they will advance to the official championships, to be held in three weeks at the University of Virginia.