The UCLA women’s tennis team came into Saturday’s match against Washington prepared, fit and ready to follow up on its big win against USC.
The Huskies? Not so much.
The No. 20 Huskies (8-6, 0-2 Pac-10) hobbled into the Los Angeles Tennis Center with only five healthy players available to play after their loss to the Trojans the day before.
The shorthanded team had to give up one of the doubles games and one singles point, giving the Bruins a lead before play began and paving the way for UCLA’s 6-1 victory in its matchup for first place in the conference.
But the No. 17 Bruins (9-4, 1-0) did not have a clear path to victory even with the advantage. They had to get past Washington’s Denise Dy and Venise Chan, a doubles tandem that at one point in the season was ranked No. 1 in the country.
The Bruins countered with their own formidable pair in senior Noelle Hickey and junior McCall Jones, winning in court No. 1, 8-4.
“Noelle and McCall have the best chemistry a team could have,” UCLA coach Stella Sampras Webster said. “You can tell from the beginning that they’re feisty and they have energy. Today they came across a top team and really took advantage of them.”
Success in doubles is something the Bruins have been working on all season, and past matches have shown stellar results.
“At this point in the season, we have found the partners that should be working together,” said Jones, whose doubles team also defeated USC’s top pair on Wednesday. “It’s a big improvement from where we started in the year, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
After cruising through doubles, the Bruins engaged in singles matches that included back-and-forth battles and dominating victories. The outcome of the meet was quickly decided after junior Carling Seguso and sophomore Pamela Montez won their matches in courts No. 5 and 4, respectively. The two victories, along with the doubles point and a Husky default at court No. 6, clinched the win for UCLA. Senior Andrea Remynse secured her match shortly after to bring the lead to 5-0.
“We are a strong team,” Hickey said of the singles lineup.
“I felt really good during my match because I knew the three of them would take care of business.”
Hickey’s match against Chan would drag on the longest. After losing a tough first set 3-6, Hickey stormed back to claim the second, winning the first five games of the set. Hickey closed out the match 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to upset the No. 27 player in the nation.
“Noelle’s done a great job closing out matches,” Sampras Webster said. “She’s been able to play at a high level against top players, and I knew as soon as she was hitting her shots, she could beat (Chan).”
Jones nearly staged a comeback of her own against Dy, who is ranked No. 6 nationally. After falling behind early in the first set 1-5, Jones won the next four straight games. But Dy prevailed by winning the next two games and ultimately the point for UCLA’s only point loss.
UCLA will look to continue its winning ways at home against Fresno State on Wednesday.