The NCAA tournament regionals may be over for the UCLA women’s tennis team, but there’s still much more to do.
No fewer than 10 minutes after the No. 5-seeded Bruins advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament with a victory over the Ole Miss Rebels, the players gathered in a circle doing everything in their power to prepare for their next match in Athens, Ga.
Physically, they used foam rollers to ensure their muscles wouldn’t become tight after playing through hours of tennis. Mentally, the team took in one final address on the hard courts of the Los Angeles Tennis Center from mental training coach Jeff Troesch.
“It’s basically just how we’re approaching Thursday, taking it day by day, because all of us are ready – we want to play right now,” said sophomore Kyle McPhillips. “We have so much energy and fire that it’s hard for us almost to have to wait Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. But we just have to take it day by day and take care of every single day.”
Following Troesch’s words of advice, the Bruins had some time for a soothing ice bath in the locker rooms and one last dinner in Westwood for the foreseeable future. Right after that, it was time to pack their bags – by 9 a.m. Sunday, they’d be Georgia-bound.
“Our goal was to win these two matches and we did that,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “We’re excited to be going to Athens, and we’re just getting ready for Miami now.”
While the turnaround from winning games to riding planes may seem quick and hurried in this instance, the team knows that the extra time in Athens will ultimately work to their benefit as they aim to win the program’s second national championship.
“It’s going to be really, really hot there, so it’s really good that we’re getting there early so that we can get used to the weather and be able to practice on those courts – I know the courts will probably play a bit different than our courts here at home,” said junior Robin Anderson.
Looking back at this weekend’s NCAA tournament first- and second-round matchups, which also included a 4-0 victory over the Sacramento State Hornets on Friday, McPhillips and Anderson both acknowledged that they did not play their best games despite the team’s successful shutouts. But they both know they’ll have four more days ,before they once again put it all on the line, this time against No. 12-seeded University of Miami.
Until Thursday, the players won’t be looking too far ahead; they’ll be making strides toward peak performance one day at a time.