With two 4-0 wins this weekend, UCLA women’s tennis made advancing to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament look easy.
The first match of the weekend on took place on Saturday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center pitting No. 7 UCLA against unranked Idaho.
“We had had two weeks of practice (between Saturday and the team’s last match) and it just felt never-ending,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “Everyone was just really fired up and ready to play, and it really showed in the way they came out.”
The Bruins played strong right out of the gate. Doubles play ended in the Bruins favor when freshman Terri Fleming and junior Catherine Harrison defeated their opponents 8-1 in doubles play. The nation’s No. 9 doubles team of senior Robin Anderson and sophomore Jennifer Brady ousted the Vandals 8-2, earning the Bruins’ first point of the match.
Harrison, coming off her Pac-12 singles title last week, had a standout match on court four, winning both of her sets 6-0. Fleming was close behind with the second singles win of the day, winning 6-1, 6-0.
Normally, Fleming does not get the chance to play in the Bruin’s top-six lineup, but the freshman made her first NCAA Tournament appearance, with junior Kyle McPhillips sitting out that day.
With Fleming’s help, the Bruins were up 3-0.
Anderson, the nation’s No. 1 singles player, secured the fourth and final point needed for UCLA to advance, defeating Galina Bykova 6-1, 6-2.
Sunday’s match against Northwestern played out in similar fashion.
Anderson and Brady came out fast on court one with an 8-1 win over the Wildcat’s No. 48 doubles team. On the other side of the tennis center, on court three, senior Chanelle Van Nguyen and freshman Kristin Wiley struggled to gain momentum. Overcome by their opponents, they lost the match 8-1.
On court two, the nation’s No. 3 doubles team of Harrison and McPhillips proved too much for the Wildcats with an 8-4 win, and the Bruins headed to singles with a 1-0 lead.
Harrison continued the hot streak she had been on since her Pac-12 title win, as she was first to cap a Bruin victory on court four, with a 6-1, 6-1 win.
“(Harrison) is playing with a lot of confidence, and its really great to see,” Sampras Webster said. “This is when you want your players to be playing and feeling their best, so it’s really neat to see how she’s been able to continue her high level of playing since Pac-12s.”
Harrison wasn’t the only one playing at a high level.
Anderson had a streak of her own going, as her singles win against Northwestern’s Alicia Barnett marked her 121st career singles victory at UCLA – good enough for the second most wins in school history. She now trails only Keri Phebus, who won 144 singles matches during her time as a Bruin.
With the Bruins up 3-0, just one more win was needed to earn UCLA a trip to the Sweet 16.
That final win came from Van Nguyen, as she redeemed herself from her loss in doubles play with a 6-3, 6-3, win against her Northwestern opponent.
The team now heads to Waco, Texas, where they will face No. 10-seed Texas A&M.
Anderson said she is excited about the potential her team has to do well in this tournament. She understands the rarity of repeating a title run, but hopes her team can defy the odds.
“It would be a big deal,” said Anderson. “It’s really, really hard to win one back to back, let alone win one, so it would be special.”