UCLA women’s tennis has only faced Oklahoma State thrice in program history – and for the first time, the Bruins were defeated.
The No. 15 Bruins (9-4) fell to the No. 19 Cowgirls (9-1) 4-2 at home Wednesday in a match that lasted over three hours.
“It looked like we were in control, and then we let them in,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “It’s unfortunate that we lost to an out-of-conference team because we won’t get to see this team again until NCAAs.”
UCLA continued its success in doubles, clinching the point for the eighth consecutive match.
With the court three victory secured, No. 22 ranked pair of redshirt sophomore Jada Hart and senior Terri Fleming looked to be the decision makers, holding a 6-5 lead over No. 19 Vladica Babic and Sophia Blanco. But the match was forced into a tiebreaker by an Oklahoma State ace on match point and the Bruins were defeated 7-6(4).
The doubles point was left up to court two, where freshman Abi Altick and junior Ayan Broomfield battled Marina Guinart and Katarina Stresnakova. Despite dropping the first two games, the duo prevailed 7-5 on a Broomfield slam to break deuce and secure the UCLA lead.
“We saw on our left that we lost on court one, we knew it was one to one,” Broomfield said. “As a competitor, once you get into that mode where you have to do it or you’re not going to win, you just go into a different mindset.”
With the 1-0 lead heading into singles, three of the six Bruins dropped their first sets. All three went on to lose their matches.
Among the three were No. 8 sophomore Ena Shibahara, who fell 3-6, 4-6 to No. 38 Vladica Babic on court one, and No. 41 redshirt sophomore Jada Hart, who lost 3-6, 2-6 to No. 74 Megan McCray on court two.
Shibahara’s match marked her third consecutive loss to a lower-ranked opponent.
“Last year, we relied so much on (Shibahara) winning,” Sampras Webster said. “Right now she’s just going through a little something … I don’t question her fight or her competitiveness, it’s just going to take time.”
The only singles win of the day came from court six, where No. 118 junior Alaina Miller defeated Shir Hornung 6-1, 6-0.
“I had a lot more confidence going into this match and I was being a little more vocal than I usually am, which helped a lot,” Miller said.
With only two matches left, the Bruins were fighting an uphill battle – UCLA needed both for the win.
No. 46 Altick made her court three debut against Stresnakova. Meanwhile, Broomfield took on Blanco on court five.
“(Altick) has just been so solid for us,” Sampras Webster said. “I wanted to give her that opportunity, I do believe that she can win … I know that she’s going to learn from that and work really hard to get better.”
In the end, Altick fell 7-5, 4-6, 1-6, leaving Broomfield’s match unfinished with a score 6-3, 5-7, 3-5.
“I don’t think we’ve lost four singles matches in a long time,” Sampras Webster said.
Even though the match was unfinished, Broomfield had started the third set trailing five sets to none and was halfway through a comeback. She said she was disappointed that Sampras Webster had her clinch rather than play out the match.
“When (Sampras Webster) told me to stop I was like ‘I really thought I had that one, I was going to do that comeback,’” Broomfield said. “I’ll put that comeback in my pocket and use it for another time.”
That confidence will be necessary when UCLA faces No. 20 Oregon this Sunday. The match will conclude the team’s alumni weekend honoring the 10th anniversary of the program’s first NCAA championship.
“We lost this match, but I still feel like we can make a great run for a great season,” Sampras Webster said.