The No. 6 USC women’s tennis team will have its home opener Friday at Marks Stadium as USC hosts ITA Kick-off Weekend. Throughout the month of January, the team began the spring season playing in various tournaments across the U.S., specifically in Las Vegas, Nev., Palm Springs, Calif. and Port St. Lucie, Fla. Playing at home will be a nice change of pace as USC welcomes opposing teams St. Mary’s, Utah and North Texas for the weekend tournament.
Juniors Giuliana Olmos and Zoe Scandalis started their spring season on the right foot by taking home the doubles title at the Freeman Memorial Tennis Championships in Las Vegas (WHEN?). The duo is ranked seventh in the nation together. Senior Brynn Boren and freshman Zoë Katz, ranked No. 3 in the nation together, were upset by an unranked pair from Duke.
Meanwhile, junior Gabriella DeSimone, senior Kaitlyn Christian and sophomore Ellie Yates participated in the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Palm Springs. After making a deep run in the tournament, junior Gabriella DeSimone said the team is ready to bring their success back to their home court.
“We are excited to kick off the season off at home. Every match is a chance for us to get better and build more confidence and that is what we are aiming for this weekend,” DeSimone said. “Playing at home is fantastic. Home court advantage always helps and being able to keep certain rituals. Also, being able to sleep in your own bed is always a plus.”
In the first round of the ITA Kick-off Weekend tournament, USC will face a solid squad in No. 60 North Texas, led by head coach Sujay Lama. The Mean Green fell this past weekend to No. 34-ranked Oklahoma and is looking to rebound against the Women of Troy. The team played last weekend without Kseniya Bardabush and Franziska Sprinkmeyer, and may have to again today.
When asked how she and fellow teammates are preparing for an unfamiliar opponent in North Texas, DeSimone said she’s preparing for this team the same way she does for all opponents.
“I am looking at North Texas just like any other match,” DeSimone said. “I don’t pay much attention to the school or the individual I will be playing against but mainly what I need to do to get myself ready to compete this weekend.”
The other match today will feature No. 37 St. Mary’s, led by Jenny Jullien, versus No. 58 Utah and top player Tereza Bekerova. Both St. Mary’s and Utah could provide intriguing singles and doubles matchups against USC in the second round of play, but DeSimone guarantees that USC is focusing on North Texas and not looking ahead to a potential match with Pac-12 conference rivals Utah, whom USC will face later during the season in conference play.
“As for potentially facing Utah, I am not looking that far ahead,” DeSimone said. “[I’m taking it] one match at a time for now, so my focus is all geared towards North Texas for now.”
The tournament will start today at 10 a.m. with Utah versus St. Mary’s, followed by USC versus North Texas at 1 p.m. The tournament will conclude on Sat., Jan. 25, with a consolation match at 2 p.m. and the championship match at 5 p.m. All games will be played outdoors at Marks Stadium.