Hey there tennis fans!
Three of the Lions competed in the Jack Kramer's tournament
(Jessica, Laura and Kristine) with some of the top teams on the west coast
including UCLA, USC, SMU, Pepperdine, LSU, Stanford, Ohio State, BU and others. Laura and
Jess had a huge first round win in doubles but the singles matches were super
tough as these players are some of the best in the country. Kristine won her first round against UCSB but lost her second round. I'm super proud of everyone for giving it their all though.
About that Southern fix, Yes, you heard right. ¾ of the LMU
Women's Tennis team (Ellie, Julia, Lisa, Anna, Kylie, Andy, Audrey and myself) headed
to the south, Tuscaloosa, Alabama to be exact for the Roberta Allison Fall
Classic. This is the second year in a row that our team has been asked to
attend this event along with tons of competitive teams from the south and the Midwest.
The battles were certainly unlike any competition we have faced in the past or
will face in our conference matches. These teams include, Alabama, Ole Miss,
Mississippi State, Georgetown, Michigan, LSU, Georgia Tech, Depaul, as well as
some feisty smaller private schools in the south that I had never heard before
such as Troy, UAB, and Middle Tennessee University.
A lot of these schools have recruited some of the top
players in the country so it was no doubt that we were going to battle against
the big guns.
Just stepping onto Alabama soil for the first time, my first
thoughts were obviously, "we are definitely not in California anymore." Eyes
peered to our LMU gear in the airport and throughout the weekend as if we were
celebrities, or aliens....one of the two. Of course, no one has really heard of
LMU from the South. Several people actually asked if we were from a school in
Louisiana, which had the same acronym.
The funny thing is, I would not really expect anyone to
really have heard of our school out west anyway because even some California
folk are not too familiar with our hidden gem in Los Angeles, LMU. As you can
imagine, people's eyes lit up when we clarified our location. "Wow, you're from
L.A....that's so cool!"
For those of you whom are not too knowledgeable about
Tuscaloosa, the football team pretty much shapes the town. There is not too
much to do in the town but Alabama natives are crazy about their football.
Needless to say, football is, well, everything.
Coming from a school that doesn't even have a football team,
well we did, way back when,...(side note, our coach actually played on the team) we
were in for quite a culture shock. I personally was so excited to see what that
pride was all about, oh and of course to meet all the friendly locals.
ironic that our tennis team was making this trip because I actually am
currently interning for a local Sports PR firm in Manhattan Beach where two of
my bosses went to Alabama. Naturally they are all about their football team and
still travel back there from time to time to see games. When I told them I was
making the trip, they were stoked and gave me a pre-warning that I was going to
absolutely love it.
In addition, my
sports journalism class has required that I religiously follow a college
football team and blog about them three times a week so of course I chose the Crimson
Unfortunately for us, the Bama football team had a bye week
and the students were on fall break, so not a whole lot of activity was taking
place, but you can still feel the atmosphere and that warm sense of community.
Because we went during this fall time of year, we got to
experience the beautiful autumn trees and the fresh, crisp air. The chill basically felt like winter
for us in California. Oh man, we're spoiled.
Alright, besides taking in all that Alabama has to offer in
this little weekend getaway, and believe me, we did, your Lady Lions did travel
all this way on a mission. And that was to show these Midwest and southern
schools that the LMU lions are on the prowl and would be fearless competitors
on the tennis court.
Our tournament started on Friday morning, Halloween. No we
didn't dress up if you were wondering. We kept it all business in uniform. We
had to layer up big time to warm up though. Our big puffy ski-like jackets and
sweatpants were a necessity right up until we played our beginning matches. 45 degree
mornings are not exactly what we're used to back home.
Doubles matches started off the day both days, which were followed
by two singles matches. All 8 of us played against opponents from all different
schools, all of which were super solid and tough contenders. Sure we got a
little discouraged with losses but we knew the quality of tennis that we were
going to face and our games tend to rise when we face intense, perhaps more
experienced opponents, ultimately forcing us to play our best tennis. We walked
away from Day 1 with a firm grasp of the competition while knowing we had
another day to play all out with absolutely nothing to lose.
After making it through all sorts of extreme weather from 70
and sunny to windy, dark horror movie-like dark clouds and pouring down rain,
it was grub time. I suppose it completed the whole spooky Halloween look pretty
We ate at a fun restaurant, which as you can imagine was
decked out in all things repping Alabama football from souvenirs to autographed
pictures to life-size poster board cut-outs of Coach Nick Saban. The customers
and waiters were all dressed up in funky costumes too. It was great.
On top of that, we had an overly friendly waiter, Eric. I
say 'overly' because of course we were expecting a friendly and personable
waiter, but this guy, yikes. He felt a tad too comfortable with us. Dressed up
in a full-on German Oktober Fest lederhosen outfit for his Halloween costume,
he sat down at our table striking up a conversation. Nice, right? Cool he's
comfortable with us. But then he kept coming back, over and over, thinking of
any excuse possible to keep the conversation flowing. He was just full of
It was a little overkill. He thought it would be an
appropriate time to start one of his stories in the middle of our meal when we
were enjoying a quality southern meal where we know we would not get anywhere
else. Can't we eat in peace? One of my teammates, Audrey perfectly described
our experience as a "dinner and a show." Eric did not fail at the entertainment
part, that's for sure.
We were up and at 'em early the next day for round two of
our tourney. So no, your Lions didn't spend the night out trick-or-treating
Saturday was drastically colder in temperature compared to
the previous day. Like holy cow, it was close to unbearable. We're talking
around 35 degrees in the morning and then it did not reach over 50 degrees, all
day long. Not to mention the hailing winds that seemed to blow uncontrollably. Saying
that the conditions were tough would be an understatement.
Yes, we were
out of our comfort zones in terms of weather and perhaps people think we were a
bunch of wusses but all teams seemed to be struggling to stay warm with the
weather. I know myself and a lot of my teammates refused to take off our
sweatshirts/jackets and sweatpants the entire time we were playing all of our
matches just so that we would not freeze to death. And some of us had up to
The matches basically came down to who could overcome the
excruciating cold or at least become numb to the point that we could just play
out to the best that we could. I am so proud that despite the obvious
discomfort, none of us showed signs of calling it quits. We were fighters
through and through.
Even though we did not end both days of the tournament with
the results that we wanted, our coach was proud of how we gave it everything we
had. Hey, we traveled all the way across the country to play, so we had to
leave Bama on a good note.
Yes, we were a little disappointed, but Jamie
reminded us that the results did not matter to him as much as long as we
capitalized on things we did right in our matches as well as acknowledged the
weak areas in our game so we know what to improve on when we return back home.
Of course we all want to win, but sometimes you don't take away much from
winning except for maybe the pure satisfaction of winning
The caliber of tennis was so high for this tournament so the
expectation of winning did not make or break us by any means. I think the
comfort and support we all had for each other as a team really helped ease some
of the frustrations we had at times.
With so much time spent together in road trips like this,
it's a perfect opportunity to spend quality-bonding time together. And we
definitely grew a lot closer as a unit which could only help our overall
performances on the court.
For our final night in Tuscaloosa, we decided to go to a
restaurant that would so accurately encompass a traditional and authentic
southern meal. By popular demand from locals and my bosses at my internship who
attend Bama, we went to Dreamland BBQ.
It was amazing. It was a perfect little hole in the wall
complete with TV screens everywhere (with football playing of course) and
Alabama license plates hanging. They serve their food family style there. The
waitress handed us all paper plates. It was almost like a big picnic. They
brought over various plates of ribs, sausage (seriously the best sausage I have
ever had hands down), baked beans, cole-slaw and potato salad. It was
everything I pictured a southern BBQ meal to look like, except better.
In addition to their BBQ delicacy, Dreamland BBQ is also super
popular for their banana pudding, so of course we had to give that a try. You
don't see that too often back west. It was so unbelievably good. It's safe to
say we feasted big time, but if we didn't, than we didn't really embrace the
full southern experience and do Bama right.
While at dinner, the group sitting next to us noticed and
recognized LMU, no not the LMU in Louisiana, but the Los Angeles one!
Apparently all of them were from El Segundo, which we all know is located a
town away from where LMU is located. So they all knew LMU and one of the guy's
actually took classes at LMU this past summer. Ironic right? They are currently
students at the University of Alabama and love it.
Since we had no matches on Sunday, we had most of the day to
explore Tuscaloosa before we headed back to the west coast.
Jamie hooked us up
with a private tour around the legendary football stadium. It was unreal to say
We got to walk into the locker rooms and the boxes and inside the
stadium itself. You can just feel how big football is to that school-so much
It was a blast! We took a bunch of pictures for the memories
and even snapped a shot with the mascot that we tracked down outside the
stadium. It was an awesome experience and Jamie was so great to set that up for
That concluded our Bama trip and I know I am not alone in
saying that the South did us well. We got to play some high quality tennis and
fully absorb the southern way of life for a weekend. For some of us, we don't
know when we would ever venture back there for another trip so we were so lucky
to have gotten the experience to go and with great company to boot!
We're on the go once again next weekend! Some of the Lions
will be playing in a tournament in San Diego. So let's keep that Lion spark
alive and cheer them on!
That's all for now! GO LIONS!