To be on of the best teams in the nation, the UCLA Bruins must ensure that they are functioning on all cylinders. This weekend is an optimal time for the fine-tuning that they require.
“I think it’s just preparation. I know there are people on our team that haven’t gotten the chance to play as many matches. I might not be playing singles,” sophomore Robin Anderson said.
In a weekend that originally had a match scheduled with UC Irvine today and then another match with Baylor on Saturday, it now only contains the match with UCI. Baylor canceled some time ago, leaving the weekend as somewhat lax for the players.
The range of opinions on the cancellation varied across the team. Coach Stella Sampras Webster expressed some optimism toward the change.
“I figure it’s just going to be a weekend off. I think it may be a blessing in disguise, just because we want to keep our players healthy,” Sampras Webster said. However, she also admitted that they would’ve liked the chance to play an out-of-conference team such as Baylor.
This enthusiasm for the cancellation was contrasted by freshman Kyle McPhillips’ disappointment. She anticipated that the game would provide growth for the team.
“I’m actually bummed that Baylor got canceled. Every match is an opportunity to get better, so I was hoping we’d get to play them,” McPhillips said.
Regardless of whether the Baylor match would have been an opportunity to improve, and whether the cancellation is a missed opportunity, Sampras Webster also conveyed the importance of every match, even during less demanding weeks such as this.
“What I told the team is that every match is important, and every match is an experience we want to learn from. So, each one of them needs matches. The more we play, the better we’re going to get,” Sampras Webster said.
This weekend provides exactly that – matches for every player as an opportunity to develop and perform. As Anderson mentioned, she may be sitting on the bench during singles so that other players get more experience. Last season the No. 4 Bruins cruised over the UCI Anteaters 7-0 on their path to taking the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Va. The team hopes that the coming weeks provide a similar experience as the Bruins work toward their ultimate goal – the NCAA tournament.
“It’s a process,” Sampras Webster said. “We definitely want to keep developing, and we want to peak in May.”
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