In golf, where frustration can run high, every team needs someone to ease tensions.
Mia Lojdahl, a freshman from Ahus, Sweden, is that person for the fifth-ranked UCLA women’s golf team. When tempers flare, she reminds her teammates to smile.
“She has one of the best attitudes I’ve ever seen,” said Kristyl Sunderman, a fellow rookie golfer at UCLA. “Not only toward golf, but also toward life. She always finds a ray of sunshine.”
Lojdahl is the team comedian. At a recent team dinner, she found some crayons and pretended she was an artist, drawing funny caricatures of her teammates.
“She keeps the team in stitches all the time,” said UCLA Coach Jackie Tobian-Steinmann.
Lojdahl laughed her way to winning the University of Arizona tournament last month in Tucson. She compiled a 54-hole total of 212, giving her a seven-stroke margin of victory over the second-place finisher, Leta Lindley of Arizona.
It also was significant that Lojdahl beat Emilee Klein, a freshman who is considered the top golfer for second-ranked Arizona State. Klein shot a 221.
UCLA won the tournament with an 896, edging Texas by one stroke.
Lojdahl said that Tom Kite’s performance in the Bob Hope Classic last month inspired her for the Arizona tournament.
“I saw Tom Kite shoot 35 under par and I thought, ‘If he can do it, I can do it, too,’ ” Lojdahl said.
Added Steinmann: “She has got this tenacity. She is a good student and she works on that hard. It’s nice to see that kind of determination in an athlete.”
Lojdahl is an international business major at UCLA and is fluent in three languages--Swedish, French and English. She can also speak five other languages.
For Kathy Choi, a freshman golfer from Downey who is Lojdahl’s roommate, the funniest thing that Lojdahl does is unintentional--she talks in her sleep.
It’s not that Lojdahl says humorous things in the middle of the night, it’s just that Lojdahl sleep-talks in Swedish.
In Sweden, Lojdahl attended a special boarding school for golf, where she practiced about 25 hours each week. She currently is a member of the Swedish national team.
For Lojdahl, being so far away from home has its disadvantages.
While most of the women on the UCLA team work with their personal coaches, Lojdahl is limited to speaking with hers over the phone and to working occasionally with her teammates’ coaches. She also videotapes her swing and analyzes it herself.
She would like to send the videotapes back to her coach in Sweden so they could talk over the phone about her swing, but the videotapes in the United States are incompatible with Swedish video recorders.
Lojdahl hopes to receive a video camera from Sweden soon.
In competition, Lojdahl maintains her cheery demeanor. She concentrates on each shot and has a dominating short game. But in between shots, she can be found laughing and joking with her teammates.
“If I am too serious on the golf course, I don’t play well because it’s not me,” Lojdahl said. “So, I go out there and have a good time.”
Lojdahl believes her disposition is hereditary.
“My family is very happy, and we are always laughing and having a good time,” Lojdahl said. “I’ve always been like this.”
Since 1929, the UCLA and USC men’s tennis teams have been swinging away at each other on the tennis courts.
Last week, their historically heated rivalry got even warmer.
With a 5-4 victory over USC on Wednesday, UCLA tied the series, 71-71, in dual matches spanning 64 years. In that time, UCLA has won 15 NCAA championships, the most of any school, and USC is in second place with 13 titles.
For the current players, however, there were more immediate concerns Wednesday.
UCLA is ranked No. 1 and USC is ranked No. 2 in the current Intercollegiate Tennis Assn. rankings.
The match at UCLA featured six singles players ranked in the top 76 and three doubles teams ranked in the top 12.
It lasted 5 hours 10 minutes and was decided in the third set of the final doubles match, when eighth-ranked Sebastien LeBlanc and Robert Janecek of UCLA defeated 10th-ranked Brian MacPhie and Jonathon Leach, 7-6, 2-6, 7-5.
USC played without their regular No. 2 singles player, 14th-ranked David Ekerot, who sat out because of a hip injury.
It was UCLA’s second victory over USC this season. The first was in the ITA national team indoor championships at Louisville, Ky., last month.
The teams will meet next in a dual match at USC on April 9.
Lisa Fernandez, an All-American pitcher for the top-ranked UCLA women’s softball team, broke the NCAA record for career consecutive victories on March 6 when she earned her 37th consecutive win, dating to last season. Fernandez set the record when she led the Bruins to a 10-0 victory over Cal Poly Pomona. It was the third perfect game of her career. . . . Through her first eight victories this season, Fernandez struck out 81 batters and had an earned-run average of 0.38. . . . Through the first 15 games of the season, Fernandez batted .500 with 23 hits in 46 at-bats.
The Pepperdine women’s basketball team lost to University of San Diego, 83-67, in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament Friday night at Santa Clara’s Toso Pavilion. Pepperdine finished in third place in the final conference standings to advance to the conference tournament. The Waves’ 7-7 regular-season record in conference was their best since the conference began sponsoring women’s basketball in 1985. Pepperdine ends its season 15-15 overall.
The UCLA-USC women’s tennis match, originally scheduled for Friday, will be played Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at USC. The Trojans are ranked sixth and the Bruins are ranked 10th.