The only aspect of a tennis match that can generate points regardless of the opponent, the serve, is the main focus of practice this week for UCLA tennis.
After losing four matches in singles against USC that cost them a chance at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors Championship, the team has put an emphasis on quality first serves this week, believing that they can’t afford to fall down a break early in sets and still beat the top teams in the country.
Although the team is fairly happy about how it played in last weekend’s tournament, the Bruins have been working on specific weaknesses that kept them from a championship in Seattle.
The No. 3 Bruins are currently sporting a 9-1 record thus far this season.
The team will be camped out in the Los Angeles Tennis Center getting extra hits in, doing whatever it takes to gain an edge over USC in their rematch on Friday.
“We absolutely will be working on individual things,” said coach Billy Martin.
“Each player can shore up some things that might not hold up as well against the competitiveness of ’SC.”
Martin looks back on the past match against USC, and wants the team to treat it as an excellent learning experience.
“(USC) knows we’re a formidable team and on any given day we could beat them,” Martin said. “We learn something always from these kinds of matches under the intense pressure of competition.”
During long tournaments like the Indoors or the NCAA, junior Adrien Puget believes he and his teammates could improve their conditioning in order to play at the peak of their talent level when it counts most in the later rounds.
Players on the team have each thought of individual aspects of their game they can work on, with the serve being the piece that can always be improved.
“I still need to work on my serve, even though it’s one of my big shots. It stopped working for me during key points (against USC),” Puget said.
Puget is not the only one who has been working on his serve this week in practice, as sophomore Marcos Giron stressed the correlation between a solid first-serve percentage and a well-played match.
“I can always work on my serve,” Giron said.
“The serve is such a big part of the game and it’s the only shot that we have full control over from the beginning.”
Happy that they get another crack at the Trojans right away, the Bruins have been working hard all week in practice, focusing on what they could have done differently in the Indoors Tournament and applying it to their future matches.
“We have to make sure we’re intense in practice, and we have to really motivate each other to try our hardest,” Giron said.