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UCLA women’s tennis readies for rescheduled match with rival USC

Sophomore Ava Catanzarite of UCLA women’s tennis watches the ball after hitting a forehand. Catanzarite will be among the Bruins looking to avenge last season’s loss to USC when the former lost its chance at winning the Pac-12 regular season title. (Esther Ma/Daily Bruin staff)

Women's Tennis

No. 24 USC
Monday, 10 a.m.

Marks Stadium (Los Angeles, CA)
USC Live Stream

By Elise Oliver

Feb. 26, 2023 3:43 p.m.

This post was updated on Feb. 26 at 4:04 p.m.

After weathering the weekend storm, the Bruins are set to sail across the pools in the Los Angeles streets and take on a familiar rival.

With the originally scheduled match rained out Friday, UCLA women’s tennis (3-2) will face No. 24 USC (6-2) at Marks Stadium on Monday. The blue and gold swept Cal State Northridge 7-0 in its last match but has been out of action for over a week.

Coach Stella Sampras Webster said although the team hasn’t seen much play so far this year, it is ready for the early matchup against its rival.

“We definitely want to keep the momentum going,” Sampras Webster said. “The team’s in great spirits, and they’ve been working hard and been motivated. I’m excited to see them be tested.”

The Bruins hold a 7-3 record against the Trojans in the last five seasons and have won five of their six previous matchups.

UCLA’s most recent loss came in the last meeting, where it was just short of mounting a comeback from a 3-1 hole and pulling off the win in April 2022.

“(We) understand the tradition of playing our rival, and historically, they’ve been a battle because neither team wants to lose,” Sampras Webster said. “There’s a lot of intensity and energy at those matches. That’s why you come to UCLA, to play these types of matches.”

Given the extra pressure and passion rivalry matches can bring, the team will bring forth returners who are looking to stay in the win column.

Sophomore Elise Wagle, who failed to notch a victory in her last two matchups against USC, said she knows what to expect this time around.

“It’s just another match at the end of the day,” Wagle said. “We’re just trying to tune out all that outside noise. It’s you versus another girl, and then you versus you. All the outside noise is irrelevant.”

Her teammate, No. 64 sophomore Ava Catanzarite, echoed her sentiments. With experience now under her belt, Catanzarite knows the team is up to take on the Trojans once again.

“It’s just us having a mindset of forgetting what happened in the past and just moving forward,” Catanzarite said. “As a team, we have a lot of chemistry. We’re all really close, so we rely on one another to pick each other up and go through every match with a good mindset.”

All the Bruins’ success thus far has come against unranked competition, and the Trojans represent their first ranked opponent since blowing a 3-1 lead to then-No. 24 Iowa State in a 4-3 loss at ITA Kickoff Weekend in January.

Sampras Webster said a battle against USC sets up her team for the rest of conference play.

“The tougher the match, the better. The more diversity, the better, because it prepares us for the next match,” Sampras Webster said. “If it was easy, we wouldn’t learn.”

First serve between the Bruins and the Trojans is set for 10 a.m. on Monday at Marks Stadium.

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Elise Oliver
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