Two conflicting tennis loyalties have raised havoc for the Gaal Family of Southern California. It’s a house divided that is evident by a flag that hangs outside their So Cal home. It supports both UCLA and USC Tennis on Campus (TOC) teams. Siblings Amy and Alex Gaal, both former outstanding junior players, will be participating in the USTA Tennis On Campus National Championships this week at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex in Arizona.
“We are a house divided and we have the flag to prove it,” says their mother, Irina. “It flies proudly outside of our home supporting both USC and UCLA. Between Amy and Alex, it’s a frequent verbal battle.”
The Gaals are playing on two of the four teams that qualified from Southern California for TOC Nationals. UC San Diego and UC Irvine will also compete in this fun and prestigious event in addition to USC and UCLA. The 64-team draw brings squads from other USTA sections including Eastern, Florida, Hawaii Pacific, Intermountain, Mid-Atlantic, Middle States, Midwest, Missouri Valley, New England, Northern, Northern California, Southern, Southwest and Texas.
In February TOC action, UCLA beat USC, 26-17, for a Gold Bracket win in the So Cal Section Championships at Balboa Tennis Club in San Diego. The Sliver Bracket had UCLA B and C teams in the final, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo defeated San Diego State University, 25-11, in the Bronze Bracket. The Copper Bracket saw the Pepperdine B and Cal State Fullerton meet in the final. Due to rain, however, that match was not played.
The TOC battle at the Gaal home started last year when the siblings met in a mixed doubles match at Sanford. Amy and her partner defeated Alex and his teammate to log an individual victory. The total match, however, went to UCLA. Since then, there have been three more meetings. The tab on the Gaal ledger is 2-2 and both brother and sister will be vying to take the lead this week.
“It was really cool when I beat my brother,” Amy said. “That was a great moment and I never let him forget it.” Replied Alex: “I’m looking forward to playing Amy’s team again because I never hear the end of it. Beating USC at the So Cal Sectionals gave me a chance to even the score.”
Amy had the final word: “You know what we say about two’s at USC,” she said, sporting the traditional Trojan hand gesture. “Fight on.”
Mom Irina strives to keep the family peace by staying neutral. “I have to be Switzerland,” she said. “When I go to matches I wear two shirts, one on top of the other. When I’m watching Alex’s match, I wear my UCLA shirt on top. When I’m cheering for Amy, I switch it out and wear my USC shirt.”
This week, however, the Gaals are happy to join forces as part of #TeamSoCal to represent their home section. To follow the action at the USTA Tennis On Campus National Championships, follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.