Coming off an uplifting victory over crosstown rival UCLA, the USC women’s tennis team faces a tough challenge with three matches in the next five days, starting with the Texas Longhorns at home on Tuesday.
The Women of Troy will also face off against two Pac-12 foes, Colorado and Utah, this weekend at Marks Stadium.
No. 12 USC (10-2, 1-0) had struggled through back-to-back matches, including a loss at rival Cal on Feb. 23, before a rousing win against the No. 3 Bruins in Westwood this past week.
Despite the match being interrupted by rain, the Women of Troy hung together and, even after losing the doubles’ point, strung together four victories in the singles side to come out on top.
“Once we got out onto the lights [after the delay], the kids were just on fire,” USC head coach Richard Gallien said. “The win was mainly possible because of the win last Friday, and I give the girls a lot of credit for sucking it up on that day and giving us a lot of momentum.”
Finally fully healthy after the return of sophomores Zoë Scandalis and Sabrina Santamaria, USC can boast its normal regular starting lineup, which has shown it can go toe-to-toe with the country’s best teams.
In their first bout this week, the Women of Troy return home to face off against a struggling Longhorns team that sits at a meager 3-6. Perennially a national contender, Texas has slumped badly this season, including a recent 0-7 sweep at the hands of No. 20 Stanford.
Still, Texas does boast the reigning Big 12 champion in junior Elizabeth Begley, though the decorated player has yet to hit her stride this season with a 14-10 record. Senior Aeriel Ellis has taken the majority of the reps at the first singles slot and sports a decent 3-3 record there.
“If we fall asleep against Texas, we’re in big trouble,” Gallien said. “They are a talented team who have not hit their stride. We certainly better be ready. Hopefully we get a nice crowd out there and have a nice day.”
Following the match against Texas, USC will face the bottom rung of the Pac-12 conference in Colorado and Utah. Although no conference opponent should be taken lightly, Colorado is at an even .500 record (6-6), and Utah stands at 7-3, but neither has shown the ability to beat a quality opponent yet.
Junior Carla Manzi Tenorio has been the Buffaloes’ most consistent player and has been one of the few bright spots for Colorado.
After their match against Colorado, the Women of Troy will conclude the homestand against Utah. Junior Sarah Pham and sophomore Tereza Berekova, who will face off against USC’s top singles players, lead the Utes into their match at Marks Stadium.
The Women of Troy currently have two players in the nation’s top-10 singles with Sabrina Santamaria and senior Danielle Lao sitting at No. 3 and No. 7, respectively. Scandalis is ranked in the top 30 as she currently ranks at No. 26 in the country.
Freshman Ellie Yates earned a Pac-12 player of the week nomination for her outstanding play against San Diego and Cal, and the Women of Troy continue to display the great depth that they have.
With conference play starting to ramp up, it will be important for USC to capitalize on its easier opponents and gain momentum for the meat of the Pac-12 conference.