Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Los Angeles Tennis Center
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The UCLA marching band was out in full force for the women’s tennis team’s match against USC on Wednesday and decided to transpose a familiar pregame ritual a few yards west from Pauley Pavilion to the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
“Is this a tennis ball?” one member cried out.
“Yes, that’s a tennis ball!” the rest of the band responded.
And much like their men’s basketball counterparts did exactly one month prior, the No. 17 Bruins successfully defended their home court against the No. 15 Trojans by the score of 5-2 after a rocky start.
“I think we just really competed well in singles today,” coach Stella Sampras Webster said. “Our doubles, I was not happy about.
But I was most impressed by how our players came out in singles after losing the doubles point. To win five of six singles (matches) against USC is tough. They’re a good team.”
The victory marks the fourth consecutive year that the Bruins (8-4) have fended off the Trojans (7-2) at home. UCLA has now defeated USC in seven of the crosstown rivals’ last eight regular-season encounters.
“I didn’t want to have my senior year be the only time that we lost to them at home since I’ve been here,” said senior Andrea Remynse, the only Bruin who has played in each of UCLA’s last four home victories over USC.
After dropping the doubles point, the Bruins grabbed first-set victories on five of six courts and turned the match around, seizing control and never letting go.
UCLA won each of those matches, on courts No. 2 through No. 6, in straight sets, making up for another rocky doubles set and an overpowering performance by USC senior Maria Sanchez at the No. 1 position.
Sanchez defeated junior transfer McCall Jones, making full use of her outstanding court coverage and serving prowess. Jones rebounded in the second set to make things difficult, but the early deficit proved to be too much to overcome, and Sanchez prevailed 6-2, 7-6 (11-9) after a closely-contested second set.
“She’s got a lot of strengths, a lot of weapons,” Sampras Webster said of Sanchez, the No. 2 singles player in the nation. “When (Sanchez) is playing well, she’s tough to beat because she can smack balls and really dictate extremely well when she’s executing.”
Sophomore Pamela Montez was the first to finish on the day, posting a 6-3, 6-1 win over sophomore Valeria Pulido at court No. 4. Senior Maya Johansson gave the Bruins the lead for good by defeating senior Cristala Andrews 6-2, 6-0 at the No. 6 slot.
“It’s always really nice to beat (USC), and to beat them at home is even better,” Johansson said. “We had a good crowd today, (and) it helps so much. It was the first time we had many people that were really loud, and I really felt it during my match.”
Senior Noelle Hickey won UCLA’s first frontcourt match of the day, besting sophomore Danielle Lao 6-3, 6-3 on court No. 2. Remynse clinched the victory for the Bruins with a 6-3, 6-1 win over freshman Kaitlyn Christian on court No. 3, and freshman Courtney Dolehide rounded out the proceedings with a 6-3, 5-7, (10-7) victory over junior Alison Ramos at the No. 5 spot.
The win is a much needed shot in the arm for the Bruins, who were coming off a disappointing showing at the National Team Indoor Championships two weekends ago. UCLA will look to start a win streak when it takes on Washington at home Saturday.
“We’ve had a rough couple of weeks,” Remynse said. “We needed this victory because the last few weeks have not been good.”