Coming off of a rousing 4-3 win against California last weekend, the now-No. 2 USC women’s tennis team host top-ranked UCLA in an early-season showdown of the Pac-12’s two best teams this Thursday, with the University of San Diego to follow on Saturday.
Last Saturday USC (9-1) once again fell behind early, losing a hotly contested doubles round to the Bears. As they’ve demonstrated so far this season, however, the Women of Troy showed their resolution in the face of defeat to come storming back to win four singles matches, earning an impressive Pac-12 victory.
USC capitalized on a depleted Cal squad that was without its top player, No. 3 Jana Juricova, and that lost Tayler Davis after just one set (6-0) into her match with junior Danielle Lao on court two.
Despite the absence of two top players, the Bears fought tough against coach Richard Gallien’s group, including a superb performance by Juricova’s fill-in, No. 23 Zsofi Susanyi, who took down freshman Zoë Scandalis in a three-set tiebreaker in first singles.
This weekend, the Women of Troy have their eyes set on taking down a UCLA team that had previously knocked them out of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Indoor Semifinals in Virginia earlier this month. The Bruins would go on to claim the tournament championship and, from there, that victory vaulted them into the country’s No. 1 spot.
Sitting at a perfect 11-0 on the season, UCLA is lead by No. 5 freshman Robin Anderson and has five players ranked among the nation’s top 100 players, not to mention two girls just outside that with No. 104 McCall Jones and No. 107 Skylar Morton.
On the doubles’ side, the Bruins are anchored by two top-15 duos with No. 14 Anderson/Morton and No. 15 Dolehide/Montez, who are set to take on the likes of the No. 3 pairing of sophomore Kaitlyn Christian and freshman Sabrina Santamaria along with Lao/Ramos.
Matching up against the Bruins’ strong singles squad will be a tough task for the Women of Troy and it will likely depend upon the backend of their team if USC has any hope to end their five-game skid against UCLA.
Zoë Scandalis, who has faced the opponents’ top competition throughout the year, will have to recover from a tough loss last week, but she has shown a propensity to do just that in her short USC career.
Despite the injury from Cal’s Davis last Saturday, No. 17 Lao continues to show she’s in top form and will be looked upon to set the tone for USC.
Along with Scandalis, the other two freshman, Gabriella DeSimone and Santamaria, will be counted on to once again lead the Women of Troy, especially DeSimone, who has shown great poise under pressure with three game-deciding victories in as many weeks.
Christian shook off some rust early on in her match against Cal to win 10 of the last 11 sets, defeating Annie Goransson 6-3, 6-1. Despite sitting in the fourth slot, Christian is an important cog as she always competes and provides energy and grit for the Women of Troy.