The top-25 opponents just don’t stop coming.
No. 21 UCLA women’s tennis (6-3) will continue a stretch of facing six consecutive ranked teams when the Bruins travel to Waco, Texas, to take on No. 13 Baylor (9-2) on Saturday.
Having to face so many high-caliber squads doesn’t faze junior Terri Fleming, one of only two upperclassmen in the starting lineup.
“I feel like you’d rather play a better team or a better opponent than someone who’s not as good,” Fleming said. “It’s easier to bring the energy and be ready to go when you know your opponent’s tougher.”
UCLA enters this weekend after losing its two previous matches to then-No. 18 Cal and then-No. 12 Pepperdine.
Both times, the Bruins fell at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles and entered singles play at a deficit. The fourth-ranked duo of freshman Ena Shibahara and redshirt freshman Jada Hart are 7-1 on the season, but UCLA has recorded six losses this year at courts two and three.
Regardless, junior Kristin Wiley believes the Bruins just need to execute and play confidently in order to pull out wins.
“I think (the key is) staying positive since every single match that we’ve played has been close,” Wiley said. “It’s just the difference of a couple points here and there, and just staying positive and believing we can do it.”
Baylor has also struggled in doubles this year, dropping the point five times in its 10 matches. The Bears’ top team, No. 18 Blair Shankle and Elizabeth Profit, is only 1-2 in dual-match play this season.
Saturday will be the fifth consecutive season UCLA and Baylor have faced off. The Bruins have won four straight, including a 4-3 decision in Waco two seasons ago.
Fleming and Wiley are the only current team members who played in that match – the duo lost at No. 3 doubles, but Wiley defeated current Baylor junior Theresa Van Zyl in straight sets at No. 6 singles. Fleming also defeated Van Zyl last season in a 4-1 UCLA victory.
While the match may be moved indoors due to rain, both players said the team has to be ready no matter the court conditions.
“We want to get going early instead of coming out slow and not ready to play,” Fleming said. “(It’s) pretty much just the same preparation – just be aware that we could possibly play indoors depending on the weather, and also that the courts are a little bit slower there.”
Taking on another highly ranked team on the road will also prepare UCLA for conference play, which begins the following weekend.
“That’s what we want,” Wiley said. “We want to play the best teams and see where we’re at against them.”