UCLA’s women’s tennis wanted to send its seniors off the right way.
This weekend, the team did so with two consecutive 7-0 shutout wins against conference opponents.
In its last home game, UCLA (18-3, 8-1 Pac-12) stretched its longest win streak of the season up to seven matches when it ousted Colorado (11-10, 1-8) on Friday and Utah (9-13, 3-6) on Saturday both at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
Junior Catherine Harrison said she is excited about the recent progress her team has been making to win matches like these.
“Everything is coming together at the end of the season which is really nice,” Harrison said. “ Everyone is zeroing in and we’re getting a lot healthier as a team.”
Everything indeed came together for the team this weekend. The Bruins managed to deliver two dominating performances even with two of their top ranked players, senior Chanelle Van Nguyen and junior Kyle McPhillips sitting out of singles.
Both days began with successful doubles play. Against Colorado, UCLA took a 1-0 lead after both the No. 19 doubles team of senior Robin Anderson and sophomore Jennifer Brady and the No. 4 doubles team of Harrison and McPhillips defeated their opponents 8-1. The Bruins again swept the doubles on Saturday after Anderson and Brady defeated the Utes 8-5 and Van Nguyen and freshman Kristin Wiley sealed it off with an 8-2 finish over their opponents.
Singles play mirrored that same success.
On Friday, the top three courts lost just two games in total to the Buffaloes as No. 50 singles player Brady won 6-0, 6-0 against Colorado’s Julyette Steur, and both No. 1 Anderson and No. 63 Harrison finished 6-0, 6-1. UCLA’s remaining three players, No. 95 singles player senior Kaitlin Ray (6-1, 6-4), Wiley (6-2,6-3) and freshman Terri Fleming (6-1,6-0), also won their respective matches.
Against Utah, Anderson finished her singles career at home on a high note, downing No. 57 singles player Tereza Bekerova 6-4, 6-1. Ray also ended her home career with a win, taking down her opponent 6-2, 6-2. The other four points for the Bruins came again from Brady (6-2, 6-3), Harrison (6-2,6-2), Wiley (6-0, 6-2), and Fleming (6-2, 6-2).
While the team’s game play was impressive, the highlight of the weekend came on Saturday between matches. During the team’s Senior Day presentation, both Harrison and McPhillips delivered speeches to send their seniors off. It was all laughs when McPhillips’ broke into a rap about Van Nguyen, where she joked about her longtime friend’s success both on and off the court and ended by calling her a “legend.” Harrison followed up with a more emotional speech about Anderson and Ray where she expressed how much her teammates will be missed.
“These two girls mean the absolute world to me and next year will not be the same without (them),” Harrison said during her speech.
McPhillips and Harrison are not the only ones who will miss what is potentially UCLA tennis’ most successful senior class in history. As three of the team’s top players, the seniors make up half of the Bruins’ starting six. With an overall record of 93-14, the class has made it to the semifinal of the NCAA Tournament each year. In 2014, they each played a role in defeating North Carolina 4-3 in the championship game.
“They have been such a huge part of our program and our success, so they’re going to be really missed,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “They compete well, they know how to play in big moments, they thrive on pressure and it has been great having them with us. It’s a reason why we’ve been able to be in the Final Four every year.”
Ray said she is equally saddened about her time at UCLA coming to an end.
“Its emotional. I have some incredible memories here,” Ray said. “Our coaching staff just has made this weekend really special for us. It’s really something I’ll remember forever.”
UCLA ends its regular-season play Thursday when the team makes the crosstown trip to face USC. With a win, the Bruins have the chance to tie with the Trojans for the Pac-12 title.