This post was updated March 3 at 2:31 p.m.
The Bruins will face their crosstown foes in the wake of a nail-biting victory.
No. 5 UCLA women’s tennis (7-1) will host UC Santa Barbara (4-3) at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Thursday before squaring off against No. 32 USC (5-2) on Friday.
The matches come five days after UCLA narrowly defeated No. 24 California on the road. Coach Stella Sampras Webster said the team is grateful for the Feb. 23 win, despite the mental and physical recovery processes that result from a drawn-out matchup.
“In sports, you’re always going to have close matches, and that’s why you play sports,” Sampras Webster said. “Having those kind of wins makes it really exciting and there’s nothing better.”
UCLA swept USC 4-0 last year at home, but the Trojans will march into Westwood with a new sense of confidence, having broken into the national rankings for the first time this season.
“This is why you came to UCLA: to play against USC,” said Sampras Webster. “But we are going to prepare like we do, and we know their players very well.”
Sampras Webster said many of the players from each team faced each other in high school and fielded recruiting interests from both universities – something that makes the rivalry more intense.
“They all grew up with each other, and we’re very familiar with them,” Sampras Webster said. “I think there will be a lot of emotion.”
Senior Ayan Broomfield said she is no stranger to the emotion of the rivalry and hopes to replicate the team’s success from last year.
“Anytime you’re playing your rival there’s a lot of emotion involved,” Broomfield said. “But I know our team is really pumped up and I think it’s going to be a really fun match.”
Redshirt junior Jada Hart will enter the string of matchups on the heels of her first singles win of the season.
“It’s a huge excitement for me because I haven’t been able to finish a lot of matches,” Hart said. “I think we should just translate that same energy from last weekend.”
But before UCLA clashes with its crosstown rival, it will have to face a Santa Barbara team looking to build a win streak of their own. Broomfield said the team, including the freshmen, will remain disciplined so they don’t overlook Santa Barbara.
“Our freshmen are really mentally strong and they kind of carry themselves,” Broomfield said. “They’re some of the strongest players on the team so no one really has to worry about them.”
The Bruins’ match against the Gauchos will start at 1:30 p.m. Thursday before they battle against the Trojans at 1:30 p.m. the following day.
“There’s going to be some extra excitement playing USC,” Hart said. “We want to show who really runs LA.”