Women's Tennis
    Girls PLAY Returns a Winner

    USC women's tennis associate head coach West Nott blasts tennis balls into the swarming crowd at Saturday's Girls PLAY event.
    Feb. 17, 2015

    For most middle school girls, Saturday mornings serve as a time to sleep in after a long week of school.

    Don't tell that to a group of 400 girls from local Los Angeles middle schools, however, who spent this past Saturday morning with USC student-athletes.

    The girls from eight local middle schools were lined up and ready to go at 8:45 a.m. outside of USC's Galen Center.

    By 2 p.m., they had received valuable lessons about body image and self-esteem, toured USC's campus and watched a thrilling Trojan women's tennis victory over Vanderbilt.

    The day marked the third Girls PLAY event of the school year and featured ladies from USC's women's soccer and women's tennis teams.

    In the morning, student-athletes spoke about setting goals as motivation for improving self-esteem. They also answered questions about their motivation for achieving success in the classroom.

    USC soccer's Moriah Earley compared female beauty to flowers, describing how although each may grow in a unique shape and size, no flower is considered ugly.

    "It's important for girls to know they are capable of things they wouldn't imagine or usually wouldn't be pushed to do," Earley said. "It's important for these girls to see that there are female athletes out here achieving their goals."

    After answering trivia questions about college majors and degrees, it was time for a tour, with stops at Heritage Hall, the School of Cinematic Arts and McCarthy Quad.

    Sophomore midfielder Mandy Freeman was struck by how the kids marveled at fountains around campus.

    "One of the best parts about being a student-athlete at USC is allowing youth to experience a little bit of what we experience, showing them what it's like and what they should aspire to do," Freeman said. "A really important part is just showing them they are capable of doing this."



    After the tour and a lunch, the Girls PLAY attendees cheered on the USC women's tennis team at Marks Stadium in a thrilling match against Vanderbilt.

    The tennis team engaged its newest fans by hitting hundreds of tennis balls into the stands.

    That same energy the young girls showed at the beginning of the day was still apparent in the final moments of the women's tennis match. After Madison Westby clinched the victory for the Trojans, the new fans boarded their bus home carrying fresh motivation for the future.