The UCLA women’s tennis team suffered back-to-back losses this weekend, snapping its undefeated record this season.
The No. 13 Bruins (5-2) fell 4-2 to No. 8 Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-2) in the opening round of the ITA Division I National Women’s Team Indoor Championship in Madison, Wisconsin. In the consolation bracket, UCLA lost to No. 15 Ole Miss (6-1) by a score of 4-3 before beating No. 19 South Carolina (5-3) by 4-1 in its final game of the tournament.
The match against the Lady Raiders was closely contested, as two of the three doubles matches went to a tiebreaker, and three of the six singles matches went to three sets.
The Bruins had a chance to take the doubles point with a match point on court one but ultimately the duo of senior Terri Fleming and redshirt sophomore Jada Hart fell 7-6 (6) to Texas Tech’s No. 16 duo of Sabrina Federici and Sarah Dvorak.
“The doubles point is always a game changer,” Hart said. “It takes off a lot of pressure knowing we only need three singles wins.”
UCLA’s top player, No. 12 sophomore Ena Shibahara, notched the team’s first point with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Texas Tech’s No. 13 Gabriela Talaba on court one in singles.
“Her game matched up with mine very well,” Shibahara said. “She gave me a lot of time with the balls and it allowed me to set up my shots.”
Coach Stella Sampras Webster listed two key factors that contributed to the Bruins’ loss.
“(The Red Raiders) were a little tougher on the big points than we were,” Sampras Webster said. “They stayed in points longer and were physically in better shape than we were.”
The next day, UCLA dropped another closely fought match against Ole Miss.
After winning the doubles point, the Bruins dropped four out of the six singles matches.
The outcome of the match came down to the matchup between UCLA’s junior Ayan Broomfield and Ole Miss’ Tea Jandric on court four.
After dropping the first set, Broomfield fought back to win the second set and tie it up before losing 6-2 in the deciding set.
Sampras Webster said Broomfield was so fatigued from the match that the coach elected to replace her with junior Gabby Andrews for the final match against South Carolina.
“(Broomfield) had a rough battle yesterday, really gave it her all and today it just didn’t seem like she had her legs,” Sampras Webster said.
UCLA managed to end the weekend on a high note by securing a 4-1 victory over South Carolina.
Sampras Webster has tinkered with the lineup throughout the season, and debuted the combination of roommates Shibahara and junior Alaina Miller during the tournament in the third doubles match.
The pair went 1-1, which didn’t account for an unfinished 5-3 game against Ole Miss.
“We hadn’t played a dual match together, just a practice match beforehand,” Shibahara said. “I think it’s going to be really good for us. Our communication during the points was great.”
Overall, despite the losses, Sampras Webster was upbeat and pointed out areas of improvement.
“We have a ton of talent,” Sampras Webster said. “We need to have more shot tolerance. We’re used to playing so aggressively, hitting winners and having short points that we’re caught off guard when teams counterpunch.”
She also said that practices will be more disciplined and physical to improve endurance and performance for back-to-back matches.