While the beginning of dual-match play comes with new expectations and aspirations for the UCLA women’s tennis team, it will also come with fresh obstacles to overcome.
Dual-match play is when collegiate teams compete against each other in both singles and doubles matches. The teams compete for a total of seven possible points, with four enough to decide a winner.
“We’re still getting used to the new format for doubles, which is the no-ad scoring, which makes it exciting but challenging because it’s so different from what we’re used to,” coach Stella Sampras Webster said.
No-ad scoring eliminates the requirement that a doubles team must win a game by two points, which makes matches go faster, thus adding pressure on the players to perform.
The Bruins hope to take the changes in stride and adjust quickly upon hosting the San Diego Toreros at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Saturday at noon. With a win Saturday, UCLA will face the winner of the match between South Florida and Washington to advance to the United States Tennis Association/Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships. The team is coming off a week of invitational play, from which they hope to draw learning experiences.
“Something we could build on is staying more aggressive and playing within ourselves – not do anything crazy, but play the way we’ve been playing and play the way we’ve been winning,” sophomore Skylar Morton said.
Morton had plenty of experience winning last year, posting a 7-2 record in singles matches and an 11-3 record in doubles as a freshman. Sophomore Robin Anderson and Morton will attempt to sustain their success in both singles and doubles. However, the two players agree their recent play hasn’t been as spectacular.
“Last year me and Robin did really well, but the beginning of this year, we’re struggling,” Morton said.
After the duo experienced some struggles at the Freeman Invitational over the weekend, Anderson echoed Morton’s sentiment.
“Doubles was okay. Skylar and I have played better last year, but we’re working it out in practice,” Anderson said.
Although the opponents in the approaching tournament aren’t necessarily highly ranked, the pressure to perform well remains ever-prominent.
“You just never know. Every team is tough,” Sampras Webster said. “A lot of these teams play their best against us because they really don’t have anything to lose.”
Wins on Saturday and Sunday will qualify the Bruins for the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in February in Charlottesville, Va.
“It’s very important to our team, especially because we won the tournament last year. So to win it again this year would be pretty special,” Anderson said.
Sampras Webster’s emphasis on being prepared and not allowing the Bruins’ high ranking get to their heads is a notion that others within the team have also grasped. The dual-match season begins Saturday, and the players acknowledge they still have yet to prove themselves.
“I think our team is prepared, but I don’t know for sure yet until we finally play, since this is our first competition,” Morton said.
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