By Sally Milano, USTA.com
Zoë Scandalis, a sophomore on the fifth-ranked USC women's tennis team, is currently ranked 30th in the ITA Women's National Singles Rankings. Scandalis, 19, received numerous accolades following her freshman year, earning All-America honors in singles, being named to the USTA Collegiate Team and being selected the ITA National Player to Watch. She went 36-14 overall in singles last season at the No. 1 position, going 14-9 in dual matches, and finished the year ranked 11th in the nation in singles.
Scandalis, who was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for the week of March 19, talks about her favorite aspect of college tennis, her goals for herself and the Trojans this season, and more in the lastest USTA.com College Spotlight.
USTA.com: What made you choose USC?
Zoë Scandalis: As soon as I left USC after my first visit to the campus, I knew that was the place I wanted to be. The academic reputation was great and getting stronger, and I was instantly captivated by the traditions and atmosphere of the USC athletic department. I met with my current coach, Richard Gallien, and I loved his personality and could tell he was someone who would always look out for me. It’s so difficult to know what you’re getting yourself into when you can’t experience the dual matches or the daily training routines that each team has, but I trusted my instincts, saw something awesome in the future of the tennis program and really fell into something great.
USTA.com: What is your favorite aspect of college tennis?
Zoë Scandalis: Due to the fact that tennis is such an individual sport, the college dual-match format really changes the feeling of the game. Having a mission and a goal with a group of people and working toward it every day together is something unique to me that I love. I will never forget the intense moments during my freshman year when we were all side by side, battling with everything we had to win as a team. While the losses are more heartbreaking and painful than any individual match, winning as a team is the most incredible feeling and is truly unforgettable.
USTA.com: What are your goals for yourself and your team this season?
Zoë Scandalis: This year, we are very strong from top to bottom. We’ve had our eyes set on taking the title in Illinois in May, and we know we are going to have to work together to improve every day, push each other and fight on like Trojans, no matter what team we come to face. We know we are tough, and this year, the confidence we have in each other has grown a lot. Personally, I want to use each dual match as preparation for May and for my future game. With this in mind, I can continue to develop week in and week out in practice and stay focused, even with the distractions and workload that come into play in college.
USTA.com: What is your training like over the summer?
Zoë Scandalis: In the summer, I’m able to be more one-track minded, and tennis dictates my days. With much less running around and responsibility with school, I can train much more and dedicate more time to fitness with my dad. I travel a lot and play USTA Pro Circuit events around the country. But when I’m home, I love spending time with my best friends and family. I fall in love with tennis all over again every summer.
USTA.com: If you could offer one piece of advice to high school students going through the recruiting process, what would it be?
Zoë Scandalis: It is so tough to know everything about a tennis program without actually being a member of the team and experiencing the daily life of being a studen. But I would strongly encourage someone going through the recruiting process to recognize exactly what they want out of the school, both in academics and athletics, and then with those things in mind, get to know the personalities and character of the coaches as best you can. Your coaches will help guide you through so much in your four years in college, and you have to be certain that you will be supported in the ups and downs along the way. It’s a wild ride, and you can’t do it without a support system of great people around you. Talk to the players currently on the team, and ask questions so that you can get a better idea of their overall experience on the team and within the school.
USTA.com: If you could describe college tennis in one sentence, what would it be?
Zoë Scandalis: College tennis challenges a person to work with and learn from different people in many circumstances, and the aspect of being on a team with those who share the same goals and passion as you do creates moments you’ll never forget.