New coach and untested women’s tennis team gear up for 2018

This weekend, business picks up, as the women’s tennis team faces Loyola Marymount on Friday and UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. Both games will be played on the Trojans’ home court at Marks Stadium. The Women of Troy aim to begin the year with a winning streak after experiencing a slow start in 2016.

Senior Gabby Smith is one of three upperclassmen on the eight-woman team. Daily Trojan file photo.

Last season was a disappointing one for former head coach Richard Gallien and his team. The Trojans finished 13-10, with a 6-4 conference record. While they managed to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament, USC lost in the first round to Denver, one year after making the semifinals.

Gallien stepped down after 22 years of coaching at USC, signifying the end of an era for the program.

To fill the position, Athletic Director Lynn Swann hired Alison Swain from Williams College. At Williams, Swain won eight Division III championships, with the most recent being last season.

Taking after the 38-year-old Swain, the roster is also full of youth. Senior Gabby Smith, who finished last year ranked No. 29 in the country for singles, and senior Madison Westby, who went 24-13 in singles play in 2016-17, are the squad’s only seniors, with junior Rianna Valdes joining them as the sole other upperclassman.

In order to make a return to the NCAA Tournament, Swain will have to rely on young talent, such as freshman Alexa Corecoloeotes and sophomore Angela Kulikov.

This weekend, the team continues its new beginning, looking to start off on the right foot with a new coach and relatively inexperienced roster.