With the NCAAs right around the corner for UCLA women’s tennis, most of the team’s players headed up to Ojai, Calif. for the Pac-12 tournament while some players stayed behind to rest for the postseason.
Missing players did not have any noticeable effect, however, as players competed in either singles or doubles matches that did not count toward the score of the entire team as they would in a dual match. The tournament consisted of four draws: two doubles and two singles, with an invitational and championship draw for each.
Bruins played in three of four possible championship matches: the singles championship match, the singles invitational championship match and the doubles championship match. Coach Stella Sampras Webster had only good things to say about her Bruins at the conclusion of the tournament.
The Bruins’ singles players fared well in the tournament, as sophomore Skylar Morton reached the finals in the singles invitational draw before losing to Kaitlyn Christian of USC, and freshman Kyle McPhillips upset the No. 1 seed Zsofia Susanyi in the quarterfinals and then continued her run of victories to win the Pac-12 championship singles title over Krista Hardebeck of Stanford.
“It has been a good tournament for Kyle and our doubles team,” Sampras Webster said. “It gives our players extra confidence going into postseason.”
After her Pac-12 title-clinching match, McPhillips was excited about her victory and her level of play heading into NCAAs.
“It has been a very successful week for me,” McPhillips said. “It has given me some momentum going into NCAAs.”
That growing momentum, however, will have no bearing on the team’s seeding for the NCAA team or individual championships in May, as the women’s Pac-12 championships is an individual tournament.
Despite a lack of postseason importance, Sampras Webster believes that the tournament was exactly what the Bruins needed, recovery and practice at the same time.
“It has been a good tournament,” Sampras Webster said. “This tournament has been good for both those that needed matches and for those that needed a rest.”
As a result of injuries to several of the team’s starters, some Bruins who are not normally in the singles and doubles lineups found themselves competing this weekend. Junior Morgan Thomas and redshirt senior Holly Fleming both took part in the doubles invitational draw and Thomas also played in the singles invitational draw.
While Thomas lost in the first round in both her singles and doubles matchups, she said she was excited to play in her first match of the season, having been sidelined by stress fractures since the summer.
“It was really good to get back on the court with my teammates,” said Thomas. “It was nerve-wracking at first but it was good to get back competing again.”