Women's tennis stares down final road trip of the season

By The Beacon | March 27, 2013 9:00pm

With a 7-8 record in the WCC, the Pilots need to make a final run on a their last upcoming road trip against tough teams like LMU, Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara to get a good seed in the WCC Champions

Sophomore Anastasia Polyakova leaps into a swing against San Diego March 23. Even though the Pilots lost 4-2, Polyakova won her singles match. (Giovanna Solano | THE BEACON)

By Connor Snashall Staff Writer snashall15@up.edu

After a hard fought 4-2 loss to WCC opponent and No. 45 nationally-ranked San Diego on March 23, with wins from freshman Maja Mladenovic and sophomore Anastasia Polyakova, the Pilots head south to the sunshine on a four game road trip. With Cal Poly set as their first stop on their trip down the coast on March 29, the Pilots (7-8) look to gain momentum going into the WCC Championships in April.

With the sunshine all but guaranteed, matches will be held on outdoor courts. While that might not be what the team is used to due to playing in Portland, many players grew up playing outdoors. Senior Valeska Hoath, who grew up in Queensland, Australia and knows both sides well.

"It's a lot easier to hit winners on the faster indoor courts," said Hoath. "So practices will be focused on playing longer points on slower courts."

The Pilots know the road trip will not be an easy one as they face Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara, Loyola Marymount, and Pepperdine all within eight days of each other. Hoath believes the team is well prepared after facing ranked teams like No. 36 Washington, No. 40 St. Mary's, and No. 41 Washington State earlier this season.

"I think it's been good to play these teams because we've competed well against those teams and it gives us the confidence to compete with the teams in upcoming games," said Hoath. "Even today (March 23) against San Diego, we're out here playing long close matches and it definitely helps to have the experience of those matches."

Tomorrow the Pilots will face Cal Poly who has struggled as of late and the team will look to take advantage of that opportunity. Saturday could prove to be a tough match against the Gauchos of UCSB. On April 5, the Pilots face No. 61 LMU, who are also experience early success and will prove to be a hard-fought match heading into WCC play as they ride a strong four game winning streak. The road trip closes with the Pepperdine Waves on April 6, who have struggled throughout the season and the Pilots hope to exploit and clinch a WCC win.

Freshman Tori Troesch is especially excited for the trip as she returns to her hometown.

"We're going to my hometown [San Luis Obispo, Calif.] and I've played on those courts all my life, so I'm really excited," Troesch said.

With only six games left on the season, the trip is the beginning of the end for the Pilots before heading to the WCC Championships in San Diego on April 25. Wins on the road may not be easy to come by in the WCC, but with the right preparation and confidence heading into them, the Pilots hope to return home with momentum to finish out the season.