UCLA women’s tennis learned a lesson in its only loss of the season to then-No. 11 Georgia Tech.
After the Bruins lost two tiebreakers, including a 12-10 decision on the top court and the doubles point, coach Stella Sampras Webster said the team’s mentality changed.
“One thing that we did learn from Georgia Tech was that we can’t depend on anyone,” Sampras Webster said. “I think the number one doubles, even though they’re top ranked, we can’t think that they’re going to win every time.”
The Bruins’ top doubles team, consisting of freshman Ena Shibahara and redshirt freshman Jada Hart, came into the spring with high expectations after finishing as runners-up in November’s United States Tennis Association/Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships and as semifinalists at the Freeman Memorial Championships in January.
The ninth-ranked duo highlighted the volatile nature of collegiate doubles by upsetting the top-ranked tandem of Aldila Sutjiadi and Mami Adachi of Kentucky in the first match of the ITA Kickoff Weekend and then falling to the unranked pair of Rasheeda McAdoo and Johnnise Renaud of Georgia Tech.
Shibahara and Hart rebounded from their loss to the Yellow Jackets by sweeping both matches against the St. Mary’s Gaels and UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 6-2 last weekend. With doubles play consisting of only one set, the players said they needed to key in on each point.
“I think we also learned from Georgia Tech that every point really counts,” Shibahara said. “We just cleaned up some points and I think we were able to focus on every point and just make sure to get it done.”
One of the keys to winning, according to Hart, was to stay in the driver’s seat throughout the set by hitting big serves to set up volleys and changing the pace of their serves.
“We were looking to have the same mentality to be aggressive,” Hart said. “When we lost to Georgia Tech, it was just a few key points here and there but it was a very close match, we were still playing aggressively.”
UCLA’s doubles play will be tested in its upcoming matches against No. 17 Miami and No. 3 Pepperdine, both of whom boast several top doubles teams.
The Hurricanes have the 47th-ranked pair of Sinead Lohan and Dominika Paterova, while the Waves’ top two teams are third-ranked Christine Maddox and Mayar Sherif Ahmed and eighth-ranked Luisa Stefani and Apichaya Runglerdkriangkrai.
“I was pleased to see that every player is getting a tough match,” Sampras Webster said. “I think all of these matches that we’re playing are going to prepare us for the tougher ones.”
Contributing reports from Angie Forburger, Daily Bruin contributor.