UCLA women’s tennis was on its way to a historic 20-game winning streak at this time last season when the Cal Golden Bears upset the then-top-ranked Bruins.
UCLA heads back to Berkeley, Calif. today to try to avenge last year’s loss. The team then faces another tough opponent, Saint Mary’s, in Moraga, Calif. on Saturday.
This weekend’s matches will be the first time UCLA has played since North Carolina beat the Bruins in the title match of the USTA/ITA National Indoors Tournament. After UCLA won the doubles point, North Carolina took the win by beating UCLA in four of the six singles matches.
Despite not being able to win a repeat championship, coach Stella Sampras Webster was pleased with her team’s performance, and looked at the tournament as a chance to compare the team against some of the best competition in the country. She stressed the need to increase the Bruins’ level of performance for Pac-12 play and beyond.
“We got to look to keep improving,” Sampras Webster said. “We are hoping that (in May) we are a different team, and that we have gotten better and improved.”
The match against the Golden Bears will most likely feature a matchup between No. 1 singles player, Zsofi Susanyi of Cal, and No. 6 singles player, Robin Anderson of UCLA. Despite the matchup, the sophomore downplayed the match as no bigger than any other.
“It’s just another match,” Anderson said. “It’s nothing huge.”
The match against the Golden Bears also signals the beginning of the Pac-12 portion of the Bruins’ schedule. Their play in these matches will determine their seeding for the Pac-12 Championship later in the year. In turn, Pac-12 performance plays a large role in determining the team’s seeding for the NCAA tournament, should the Bruins make it.
Pamela Montez, a senior who took part in last year’s NCAA finals run, felt confident that the Bruins were ready for the Cal match and the beginning of conference play.
“We are definitely prepared,” Montez said. “It’s just a matter of taking the right steps and making the right moves preparation-wise for NCAA.”