UCLA women’s tennis eased its way through the NCAA Regionals with easy wins last weekend, but now it has to defeat a higher level of competition should the Bruins hope to win the NCAA championship.
Before the Bruins can begin to think about the championship match though, they will have to get by the No. 10 seed Michigan Wolverines. The Bruins are going into the match blind, not having played the Wolverines this year. In fact, it is the first time a UCLA women’s tennis team has played Michigan since 1983.
Instead of being worried about the lack of information on the Wolverines, the Bruins are excited to play a team that does not know much about them as well.
“We will just do our homework as best we can,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “It’s good and bad because they don’t know us either. It’s refreshing we are going to play a team outside our conference.”
Now that the tournament has moved past regional play, the Bruins no longer have the luxury of being able to play at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. The team now has to travel to Urbana, Ill. for the remainder of the team and individual championships. Despite being a long way from Southern California, the Bruins’ cheering section will not be small.
Volunteer assistant coach Laura Gordon and junior Courtney Dolehide both come from Illinois and will have family in attendance at the tournament.
“I am really excited,” Dolehide said. “It will be nice having a lot of support down in Illinois from our family and friends.”
As the tournament has now moved into its final stages, memories have resurfaced for some returning Bruins about last season’s 4-0 loss in the championship match to Florida. For returning players such as sophomore Robin Anderson, the pressure is there to avenge last year’s loss in the championship and erase the bad taste of the 2012 match.
“For me there is a pressure to get back to finals,” Anderson said. “But it is not a for-sure thing that we will get back to the finals, so it’s just about taking it one match at a time.”