Women of Troy brace for formidable road challenge
Coming off a humbling week that included losses to No. 10 California and No. 2 Stanford, the USC women’s tennis team embarks on its first Pac-10 road trip this weekend, making stops at Oregon and Washington State.
The past week’s competition proved too much for USC coach Richard Gallien’s squad, as evidenced by senior Maria Sanchez’s first loss in 24 games (to Cal’s Jana Juricova).
Though back-to-back losses to two top-10 teams isn’t always cause for concern, the defeats taste even more bitter because they came at the hands of in-conference rivals.
One of the bright spots for USC (11-5, 1-2) during its recent slump has been the development of freshman Kaitlyn Christian.
Although she only split her two games last week, Christian notched USC’s only singles win against the Golden Bears taking down No. 57 Annie Goransson in straight sets and taking No. 11 Nicole Gibbs of Stanford into a second-set tiebreaker before falling 6-3, 7-6 (6-3).
In doubles, she and Sanchez have risen from No. 80 to No. 5 in the most recent polls. Last week, the pair took down both Cal and Stanford’s top-three ranked doubles squads in succession.
For sophomore Danielle Lao, the upcoming road trip will give her time to regroup as she tries to regain her health. Lao hasn’t been in good form since she started to have elbow trouble.
“This is a great opportunity to get a couple of tough wins and see if we can regain a little momentum before we head to the desert next weekend,” Gallien said. “I am really optimistic that we will play well.”
As Oregon (7-9, 1-4) and Washington State (10-8, 0-5) feature just one ranked potential matchup among them (Oregon’s No. 116 Pavlina Smatova), USC hopes it will be able to bounce back and return to its winning ways.
Good luck ladies