Coming off of a 1-1 split in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, the No. 18 USC women’s tennis team prepares for its first two home matches of the year. Following a 4-2 win over Rice and a 4-1 loss to No. 15 Auburn last week, the Women of Troy host San Diego State on Wednesday and No. 1 Florida on Friday. Both matches are set for afternoon starts in Marks Stadium.
With a 2-1 record, the Trojans have started the year off strong. USC boasts three ranked singles players: No. 46 sophomore Jessica Failla, No. 52 junior Madison Westby and No. 56 senior Zoë Katz.
The Trojans also have two ranked doubles teams, both of which feature Katz. The pairing of Katz and junior Gabby Smith are No. 18 in the country, while Katz and junior Madison Westby are tied for the No. 27 ranking. With a good amount of representation in the ITA rankings, USC has a talented squad that will look to challenge for the Pac-12 title. Coming off a solid 8-2 home record during the 2015-16 season, the Trojans will look to replicate their strong performances at Marks Stadium again.
On a team with ranked talent, Smith is perhaps the player to watch most closely. While currently unranked, Smith is on an impressive eight-match winning streak that includes five ranked opponents. Smith’s streak will get put to the test once again when No. 1 Florida comes through Los Angeles this weekend.
Coming to Marks Stadium with a 2-1 record on the season, the Aztecs will look to sneak out a win on the road. With only three matches under its belt, SDSU will be facing its highest-ranked opponent so far this season in USC.
The Aztecs do not feature any ranked singles or doubles players, but they have taken close victories over UC San Diego and UC Irvine to this point, with their sole loss coming against Cal State Fullerton. With a 43-4 all time record against SDSU, the Trojans look to continue their strong track record and gain some momentum going into their challenging matchup two days later.
The No. 1 team in the nation, Florida, will roll through Los Angeles on Friday featuring one of the deepest teams in the country. The Gators are anchored by their five ranked singles players: No. 15 junior Josie Kuhlman, No. 24 senior Kourtney Keegan, No. 30 junior Anna Danilina, No. 37 senior Belinda Woolcock and No. 39 senior Spencer Liang.
Though Florida’s singles lineup alone equals the total number of ranked Trojans, the Gators also boast four ranked doubles teams, including the No. 7-ranked pair of Keegan and junior Brooke Austin. Three more top-25 pairs make up the rest of Florida’s doubles lineup: No. 12 Kuhlman/Woolcock, No. 21 Danilina/Liang and Keegan and junior Peggy Porter (No. 22). The highly touted Gators will be a big test for USC, but victories against a talented Florida team could go a long way when it comes to future rankings.
But before they set their eyes on toppling the top team in the country, the Trojans will first focus on dispatching San Diego State. Their match against the Aztecs begins at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, and they will take on Florida at the same time on Friday.