Arizona State 2
The end of the regular season is in plain sight, and postseason play couldn’t have come at a better time for the UCLA women’s tennis team, now winner of its last five matches.
The Bruins won two abbreviated matches in the Grand Canyon State, beating a shorthanded Arizona team 7-0 on Friday and out-battling Arizona State to a 4-2 singles-only win in bad weather on Saturday.
“We’re starting to play better as the season’s coming to an end,” senior Andrea Remynse said. “Hopefully we can keep that up going into (the NCAA Tournament).”
The No. 8 Bruins (16-5, 6-1 Pac-10) won both matches without playing the usual full slate of three doubles and six singles matches.
The Wildcats’ (15-8, 2-5) issues with health and eligibility have forced them to forfeit matches against Stanford and USC. Arizona could only field two doubles teams and five singles players.
The Bruins quickly took full advantage of their opponent’s handicap, winning the two doubles matches convincingly and posting straight-set wins on each of the five courts.
“We knew going into Arizona that that was the way it was going to be,” coach Stella Sampras Webster said. “We were prepared, and we were able to rest players who needed to rest.”
If their name holds any true meaning, the No. 15 Sun Devils (14-6, 4-3) should have been out of their element after Saturday’s three-hour rain delay. The Arizona State players did come out of the gates slowly, falling behind 3-0 after Remynse and junior Carling Seguso won in straight sets and sophomore Pamela Montez took a three-set victory.
But Arizona State’s top two players, seniors Kelcy McKenna and Micaela Hein, clawed their team back into contention with victories over junior McCall Jones at the top spot and senior Noelle Hickey at the No. 2 position, respectively.
UCLA senior Maya Johansson had the fate of the team’s travel plans in her hands on court No. 5. The rain was moving back in, and if Johansson had lost, the Bruins would have had to stay in Tempe overnight to play doubles on Sunday. However, this was not the case, as she outlasted senior Ashlee Brown and eventually posted a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory.
“ASU was a big match for us,” Sampras Webster said. “I thought our players did a good job dealing with playing singles first, which is something we normally don’t do, and the conditions were very cold, but we did a great job dealing with the adversity.”
A common theme for the Bruins this season has been the strong play from the back courts, and the trend continued in Arizona.
Seguso, Johansson, Montez and junior Nina Pantic combined to win all five of the matches played on courts No. 4, 5 and 6. The No. 6 spot has been exceptionally strong for the Bruins, with Johansson, Seguso and Pantic combining to give UCLA a spotless 20-0 record at that position on the year.
“(Playing on) the back courts, you’re next to each other, and you feed off of each other really well,” Seguso said. “With the back courts being so stable, it reassures the front courts in the sense that they can just play all out.”
UCLA has two more matches before the regular season is over. The Bruins will face the Pepperdine Waves (11-6) on Wednesday in Malibu in a match postponed from February. The team will then travel to USC to take on the No. 13 Women of Troy (14-6, 4-3) on Friday.