For junior Courtney Dolehide of the UCLA women’s tennis team, time away from the court has provided a rejuvenated passion for the game. After struggling with stress fractures throughout last season, the past few matches have been her first returns to singles play in about a year.
“I feel like I don’t take any moments on the court for granted anymore,” Dolehide said. “I feel like since I’ve been out for so long, I really appreciate every moment I’m able to play.”
Dolehide’s renewed fervor for tennis was reflected by her play against California and St. Mary’s this past weekend. She was undefeated in her singles sets, as UCLA just edged out Cal 4-3 on Friday and overwhelmed St. Mary’s 4-0 on Saturday.
“I’m just so excited to be competing in singles. It’s been about a year. I think that during the last two matches I just really zoned in and played pretty well, compared to doubles,” Dolehide said.
Although she excelled in singles, Dolehide and senior Pamela Montez lost both doubles matches, while the team was swept in doubles for the first time this season against Cal.
Coach Stella Sampras Webster said that she was somewhat disappointed with the performance, and acknowledged that losing the doubles point is a habit they hope to avoid in the future.
“Against a tough team, it’s tough to win four singles matches. I’m confident we’ll be able to figure it out but it’s going to take some time,” Sampras Webster said.
Despite losing the doubles point, the Bruins came back to defeat the Golden Bears. They did so with the help of freshman Kyle McPhillips, who clinched the last point in a tight match.
“I knew that even though we lost the doubles point, we could still win the match. I had faith in our team that we’re good enough,” McPhillips said.
Dolehide said she remained satisfied with the experience despite the struggles.
“When it comes down to it, all we want in the end is a win as a team. … But I definitely think we’re coming back to L.A. with things that we need to improve in doubles,” Dolehide said. “It’s a good learning experience. It’s better to lose at the beginning of the season than the end of the season.”