Today, 1:30 p.m.
Los Angeles Tennis Center
The No. 5 Bruins look to kick off dual-match play on a good note against the Gaels, who have never played UCLA in a dual match.
There are always great expectations for highly ranked teams to do well, even before the season begins.
The UCLA women’s tennis team has been in this situation before. The Bruins will begin their dual-match season ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Top 5 for the third time in the past four seasons.
But there are certain truths that hold for all teams before the season starts: All records stand at 0-0, all teams want to start off 1-0, and rankings guarantee nothing.
“Our team is very talented, and we’re just extraordinarily excited to start off, but any team is going to try to challenge us,” senior Andrea Remynse said. “We’re going to get our game faces on and be ready to take it one match at a time.”
No. 5 UCLA will look to start the season off with a win against in-state opponent Saint Mary’s today in the comforts of its own courts. Playing at home has seemed to give the Bruins an edge, as they went an impressive 16-1 when playing at the Los Angeles Tennis Center last season.
“To be able to play on courts that we are very familiar with and have our fans come out to watch is great,” coach Stella Sampras Webster said. “It’s definitely an advantage for us.”
On the other hand, the LATC will be unfamiliar territory for the No. 41 Gaels, who have never faced the Bruins in dual-match play. The Gaels have faced off against the rest of the Pac-10, but without much success. Since 1992, the Gaels hold a 1-20 record against the rest of the conference. In its most recent match against a Pac-10 opponent, St. Mary’s had its season end at the hands of Arizona State in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
But the Bruins will not take the Gaels’ past records as an indicator of their current strength.
“We watched them play a little bit last year against Pepperdine,” sophomore Pamela Montez said, referring to the Gaels’ 4-3 victory against the Waves in 2010. “We definitely know that they’re a tough team, and they’re not just going to give it to us. We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure we’re ready and that everything goes well.”
The Bruins will look to carry the momentum of some strong individual performances into their first team match. Seven players traveled to two separate individual tournaments this past week. On Sunday, the duo of Remynse and freshman Courtney Dolehide took home the National Collegiate Tennis Classic doubles crown in Palm Springs.
“We got to play a lot of matches, and players should be feeling confident and match-ready.” Sampras Webster said. “I expect them to come out feeling really good with whoever they play and wherever they play.”