The USC women’s tennis team will travel to Malibu on Friday to take on Pepperdine for the second time in less than a week.
After four days off and coming off of a weekend championship, the Women of Troy get back on the court against the No. 30 ranked Waves. The team took down Pepperdine in the championship match of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Kick-Off Weekend. In Sunday’s match, the Women of Troy (3-0) pulled off a sweep with a score of 4-0.
Coming off of such a convincing win, it would be easy to fall into the trap of complacency. The team has been working tirelessly, however, to not only prevent a drop-off, but also increase its intensity. Senior Gabriella DeSimone was able to provide insight into how the team competed so effectively.
“We got a good jump,” DeSimone said. “We started off strong with doubles and continued that momentum with singles.”
One of DeSimone’s coaches also gave her take on what to expect from the Waves this time around.
“I’d imagine it would be a closer match,” said assistant coach Barbara Hallquist DeGroot on what USC is expecting from Pepperdine this time around. “It’ll be a good test.”
Pepperdine’s top ranked player is No. 17 Lorraine Guillermo, who will pose a challenge for the Women of Troy.
One of the most difficult aspects of the upcoming match will be the fact that the Waves have home-court advantage.
“They’ll be a lot more fired up,” said DeGroot. It seems the players are aware of this new challenge and ready to face it head-on.
“Home court is a different atmosphere,” said sophomore Zoë Katz. “We’re just going into it with a lot of energy and competitive spirit.”
Despite the fact that USC has been able to complete sweeps of each of its opponents thus far, the team is preparing for a vengeful Pepperdine team.
Another dynamic that makes Friday’s match one to keep an eye on is the fact that many of the players on both squads have grown up together and competed against each other since they were young.
“It’s nice at the end of the day when you can hug them after a match,” said Katz. “It isn’t going to change how you’re acting on the court.”
Such a killer competitive streak is something that has certainly contributed to USC’s success on the court thus far this season.
“Across the board, from top to bottom, there is such great depth,” said DeGroot. “They are such a cohesive group, they have one mindset, and they’re having a great time while they do it.”
The Women of Troy insist that they are not playing with chips on their shoulders, despite not having moved up in the ITA rankings. USC is still hanging tough at the No. 14 spot.
“If we keep winning, the ranking will come,” DeGroot said. “It’s so early in the season, it’s easy to get caught up in the ranking.” The rankings don’t mean much to the team when all they’re doing is “concentrating on winning,” where the coaching staff believes the focus remains.
Since USC first faced off against Pepperdine in 1977, the Women of Troy are 44-12 against the Waves. This impressive record includes the sweep last Sunday and a 5-2 victory last year.
DeSimone summed up her team’s mentality quite completely: “We have to forget that we just played them and beat them.”