Following a bitter conference loss against Cal, the USC women’s tennis team will look to return to its winning ways on Friday against San Diego.
The loss dropped USC’s record on the year to 8-2 overall, although it should be noted that both losses occurred at the hands of top-10 teams.
With a win Friday, the Women of Troy can begin their climb back into the top-10 national rankings. They started the season ranked No. 4 in the nation, before a loss at the ITA National Team Indoor championships in Virginia to now top-ranked North Carolina dropped them to No. 7. Following the Cal loss, the Women of Troy dropped four more spots to No. 11 in the nation, putting them on the outside of the top 10 for the first time all year.
Individually, USC’s rankings fell as well. Last week, sophomore Sabrina Santamaria impressed the entire nation, earning the top ranking in both singles and doubles play (alongside her partner, junior Kaitlyn Christian). Following the loss to the Golden Bears, she dropped to No. 3 overall in singles play, while retaining the top spot in doubles play. Senior Danielle Lao, one of the most consistent players in the nation, remains in the top 10, dropping a few spots to find herself at No. 7. Rounding out the top 30 in the rankings is sophomore Zoë Scandalis, who currently stands at No. 26.
The game against the San Diego Toreros should serve as a tune-up before a rivalry matchup against No. 3-ranked UCLA in Westwood next Friday. The Toreros enter the matchup at 3-2 overall and have no players ranked nationally in singles or doubles. The two teams met last year under similar circumstances, with USC winning 6-1 to improve the series record against San Diego to 25-3 all-time.
Following the game on Friday against the Bruins, the Women of Troy enter a soft spot in their schedule. USC will play five games in a row against unranked teams, including the first three at Marks Stadium, where the Trojans have yet to lose all year. Unfortunately, those five games are played in the span of 12 days — a daunting task regardless of the opponents. Compounding that difficulty, there are two back-to-back games in that stretch, meaning the Women of Troy’s endurance will certainly be tested.
The game Friday will take place at 1:30 p.m. in San Diego (the Women of Troy are 2-1 on the road this year). The squad will have some rest before competing against the Bruins on March 8.