Following a 7-0 sweep of San Diego State, the No. 22 USC women’s tennis team prepares for a matchup with its crosstown rival, No. 20 UCLA. The Bruins will come to Marks Stadium on Saturday for a noon tilt with the Trojans. The match, however, will not count toward Pac-12 play.
But despite the fact that it doesn’t have direct conference implications, pride will be at stake, as is the case with any matchup between the Trojans and Bruins. The match has significant weight towards the annual Crosstown Cup, with the winner of Saturday’s match taking home 5 points (out of 10 allotted for the sport) for their school. USC has won the Crosstown Cup 10 out of the past 15 years, but the Trojans are currently trailing 45-35 to the Bruins. A win this weekend against their historic rival would help the Trojans’ cause significantly.
The Bruins are led by freshman Ena Shibahara, currently ranked No. 3 in the ITA rankings, and No. 91 redshirt freshman Jada Hart. Both women have been selected as Pac-12 Player of the Week recently, with Hart getting the honor on Jan. 30 and Shibahara a week later on Feb. 6. The doubles team of Hart and Shibahara is currently ranked No. 12 in the country. The doubles team of Hart and junior Terry Fleming is also ranked at No. 38. Before their match with USC, UCLA will host Pepperdine on Friday in Westwood.
The Trojans have time to wait and prepare for the Bruins. With a 7-0 sweep of San Diego State nearly two weeks ago, the Trojans improved their record to 3-1 on the season. Despite its win over the Aztecs, USC slipped from No. 18 to No. 22 in the ITA rankings. Junior Gabby Smith, went from unranked to the No. 25 singles player in the country. Smith, currently riding a nine-match win streak will look to keep the train rolling. Smith’s impressive run has included beating five ranked opponents. Other Trojans in the ITA top 100 include sophomore Jessica Failla (No. 61), senior Zoë Katz (No. 62) and junior Madison Westby (No. 82). In the ITA doubles rankings, the pair of Katz and Westby rose from the No. 27 to the No. 14 ranking. USC has two other ranked doubles teams including Katz and Smith (No. 47) and Failla and sophomore Rianna Valdes (No. 55).
In a historically close matchup, USC has a slight lead over their rival Bruins with a 50-44 all-time record. In their last matchup with UCLA in April 2016, the Trojans defended their home court with a 4-1 win that sent USC to the Pac-12 Championship.
Weather conditions on Friday led to a cancellation of USC’s matchup against No. 1 Florida, and the match will not be rescheduled. With 17 days between their win against San Diego State and their match against their rival from Westwood, the Trojans will be well rested, while the Bruins will have to recover quickly from their match on Friday.