UCLA sophomore Robin Anderson and Oklahoma State’s Malika Rose rallied back and forth, competing for the decisive point of the second round of the NCAA tournament. Most eyes were focused on their competition at the main court Sunday, when the match between seventh-seeded UCLA and OSU ended abruptly and cheers erupted from the top of the bleachers.
Freshman Catherine Harrison had clinched the win for the Bruins from another court at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. Harrison was initially unaware that she would be the player coming in the clutch.
“Actually, at 2-0 in the third set, I thought Robin had won her match because everyone had started cheering. I was rushing, and I was like, ‘Oh, let me at least make it 3-0 before they tell me to call it,’” Harrison said. “Then I looked over and it said 5-4 on Robin’s court. … I just took it one step at a time. I was really, really happy when I won.”
UCLA opened the weekend with a 4-0 win against Army on Saturday. The Bruins proceeded to the second round where they toppled the Cowgirls with another sweep, winning 4-0. After experiencing a season with its fair share of ups and downs, through injuries and a weekend of consecutive losses, UCLA is playing its best at the ideal time.
“I think we were playing good at different times, and working on things as a team,” said junior Courtney Dolehide. “I think we always had confidence that we were all going to come together at this point. This is kind of what’s expected.”
Dolehide said that her experience in the postseason as a freshman and sophomore helped prepare her for what to expect. The junior earned a point in each of her singles matches over the weekend.
“NCAAs always feel the same. It’s always really high intensity and you know everyone is battling. The teams that you play against are always bringing their A game,” Dolehide said.
With the second-round victory, UCLA punched its ticket to the Sweet 16 in Illinois where it will face No. 10 seed Michigan next weekend. Coach Stella Sampras Webster said it is difficult to deal with various emotions during the tournament, especially early on.
“These are always tough matches to get through, because everyone just wants to get to the Sweet 16, so the anxiety and the intensity is really high here,” Sampras Webster said.