On Court With Sarah Gregg

Pac-10 Indoors (Jan. 18-20, Seattle)

Being English, I am used to the rain and the weather being at a high of 51 degrees in winter and a low of 42 degrees and feeling a little chilly. However, in Seattle, where my prior experience of the place had been through watching the film Sleepless in Seattle, it was all that I had expected and even colder reaching at best 39 degrees. It was definitely time to put on the beanies and scarves.

We, the Women's tennis team, including Megan Bradley, Lauren Fisher, Catherine Hawley, Petya Marinova, Sara Walker and myself, Sarah Gregg, arrived around 8:00 p.m. and headed straight to the tennis courts. Naturally they were indoors. The courts were nice and immediately the team felt comfortable playing indoors, which was essential as we had a great deal of tennis ahead of us. In fact we never saw daylight as we arrived at the courts at approximately 8:00 a.m. and found ourselves leaving on the first night at 10:30 p.m.

The team performed exceptionally well and proved to all the other Pac-10 teams just what a dominating force the UCLA's women's tennis team is. Lauren Fisher dominated the third singles flight, barely dropping a couple of games per match. When she teamed up with Megan Bradley to play doubles in the first flight, the outcome was equally destructive. Those poor opponents could not even get a glimpse of Fisher's serve and when accompanied by Bradley and her powerful ground strokes and thunderbolt serve, it was inevitability going to be trouble for anyone facing them.

Sara Walker battled through her first round match showing great competitiveness after having some very questionable line calls made against her. However, her experience showed as she maintained composure to win the match. Her next opponent was Claire Carter a fellow Brit whose stylish net play and deceptive slice backhand, fell short to Sara's powerful, unforgiving ground strokes. Walker continued to fight hard, but fell just short in the semifinals. She clearly let the other teams know that she will be extremely tough to beat in the matches to come.

Captain Petya Marinova also demonstrated her feisty nature with her all-round solid game, huge serve and immense anticipation around the court, reaching the semifinals in the second flight of singles. Her opponents had to work extremely hard to get a single point, as Marinova gave away nothing.

Catherine Hawley, also the team's captain, whose voice can always be heard shouting Go Bruins to all the team, displayed great diversity and eagerness through winning the flight two doubles with myself. Her on-court presence is both polite, yet fierce. Her hard working nature and desire to win only ads an extra boost to the UCLA women's tennis team.

We charged off to the airport to catch a 4:00 p.m. flight back to sunny L.A. Seattle, although cold and wet, had all the warmth that was necessary in the charming people that we met. After exceptional play, UCLA certainly left its mark on the Washington courts.

UCLA vs. LMU (Jan. 25, LATC)

Wow! The UCLA women's tennis team is back and ready to show just what we are made of. It has been a long time since this team has swept all of the matches from an opponent, but that's exactly what we did. We took no prisoners and wasted no time in letting our opponents know that we are eager and hungry for victory.

With this type of positive aura surrounding the team, I can only sense that better things will come. We are fit, strong, competitive, talented, but most importantly we have heart!

UCLA vs. Pepperdine (Jan. 26, LATC)

Being a freshman here at UCLA I lack a bit of the history behind our tennis record. Therefore, when I was told that we had always had a hard time with Pepperdine, the team and I were ready to go out and prove that we are better than before. We left Pepperdine stunned as after only 35 minutes, we dropped a mere six games in our opening three doubles matches.

Now it was time to prove ourselves on the singles courts, which is exactly what we did. Megan Bradley and Sara Walker made short work with their matches, while Petya Marinova, Lauren Fisher, Catherine Hawley and I were still playing as the wind decided to pick up. It was about that time that I began to wish I hadn't worn a sleeveless top as the umpire went in search of new balls for the third set. It was great to be surrounded by my teammates while I was playing. Fisher tapped me on the shoulder with encouragement at the change of ends after I had dropped the second set. That made me realize the amazing team morale we have. It wasn't long before Fisher and Hawley, on the two courts beside me, proved too strong for their opponents. I was soon left on my own, scrapping in the wind in the final set.

I could hear the support but most importantly I could feel it. I had even begged my mate on the swim team to come watch - I think that means she expects me to watch her swim sometime? Anyway, it was a good feeling having all these people around me, as I knew the team had already won but they were still there for me. I finally managed to pull the match around, which meant a great deal to me as it let Pepperdine know that the players on this team are fighters.

UCLA vs. UCI (Jan. 30, LATC)

Sorry to talk about the weather again but to say it has been cold these last couple of days is an understatement. However, the team's energy has certainly not been drowned out by the feeble attempt for the heavens to cave in. As we all warm up to music blasting, the team shows early signs that UCI is going to have an up hill struggle. The power displayed on the courts by my peers in something I'm glad I don't have to face.

The No. 1 and No. 3 doubles matches started off at an even keel while Megan Bradley and myself took an early advantage in the No. 2 position. However, it wasn't long before I heard this deafening scream from the court to my left, which was immediately followed by a deadly silence. I turned to see Mariko Fritz-Krockow curled up on the floor, with her head in her hands. I couldn't believe my eyes. The trainers ran on to assist her but we had to continue to battle on in fear of getting a time violation. To everyone's relief she was soon back on her feet and putting an overhead away, presumably somewhere in the direction towards the girl who had just made her cry out. I assume we all would do the same to someone who had just smacked a ball right in your eye in the course of a point. What better way to seek revenge than by winning the match, which is exactly what Mariko and Catherine Hawley did. Before long, Petya Marinova and Sara Walker soon put an end to the hopes of UCI's No. 1 doubles team.

Although we had already won the doubles point, Bradley and I were still playing and eager to prevent UCI from gaining any confidence going into the singles. It wasn't long until Bradley's returns frightened our opponents into double faulting on my side. We eventually won and UCLA took a 1-0 lead heading into singles play, quite naturally after we munched a banana or two.

Walker and Hawley wasted no time in showing their opponents that they meant business, as neither dropped a game in their singles matches. Soon after that, Bradley stamped her authority on her opponent, but this was certainly not a sign that they could go home earlier, as Mariko and I were still battling away. Unfortunately, Petya was forced to withdraw due to injury. Mariko then decided to leave me on my own as she finished off her opponent. Before I knew it, here I was just starting the second set while everyone else had done their job and was snuggled up comfortable on the stands. Well, with the team and my coaches behind me, and an odd cloud coming overhead, I turned the match around to finish in a more convincing style. After winning the first set in a tiebreaker, I dropped just one game in the second set to close out my match. The team took a 6-1 victory over UCI!

We are just getting stronger and stronger and are now raring to show No. 7 USC just what were all about this Friday. The strength, courage and determination of us all will surely be a wall that USC may find hard to break, despite the fact that they will be at home with their musical band pounding away in the background. You can be sure that we will have everyone storming down serves and groundstrokes to silence them on Friday.

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