For the second time this season, the Bruins swept the Bulldogs.
And this time, it meant keeping their season alive.
No. 12-seeded UCLA women’s tennis (21-5) defeated Fresno State (12-13) 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“This is why you come to college – to play NCAAs,” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “We didn’t have to pump them up or anything because they understand the urgency of single elimination … their energy and focus was great.”
The Bruins clinched the doubles points with wins on courts one and three.
On court one, UCLA’s No. 7 duo of senior Terri Fleming and redshirt sophomore Jada Hart overcame Fresno State’s No. 50 Emma Wilson and Georgia Lawson 6-4. This was the only match – singles or doubles – in which both sides were nationally ranked.
“Our doubles has really come together,” Sampras Webster said. “We always feel confident in our doubles to win that point, which always gives us momentum going into singles. It’s something we feel that we do well.”
In singles, the Bruins only dropped one set.
No. 121 junior Alaina Miller raced off to a 6-0, 6-1 defeat of Olivia Noble. This was the 10th time this season that Miller was the first to secure her singles point.
“My first-serve percentage has been not the greatest this season, but I think today my back was finally feeling better, so I think that really helped me get more confidence,” Miller said.
No. 67 freshman Abi Altick was next to score for the Bruins, beating Ndindi Ndunda 6-0, 6-0 in her NCAA tournament debut.
After a brief rain delay, all eyes were on court one, where UCLA’s No. 9 sophomore Ena Shibahara battled Fresno State’s Emma Wilson in a tiebreaker.
“I was a little annoyed that at 4-2 I slipped a little bit and I lost the point,” Shibahara said. “After that, I just knew that if the courts were dry, I felt pretty confident.”
Shibahara finished on top 6-0, 7-6 (8-6), clinching the match. This extended Shibahara’s singles win streak to seven matches.
“I just love it when everyone’s cheering for me,” Shibahara said. “I feel like when the point counts, I play my best.”
The Bruins will continue their tournament run Saturday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
UCLA will face unseeded Baylor (17-13) in the second round. The teams’ most recent encounter was March 2017, when the Bears beat the Bruins 4-3.
“I think it’ll be a good matchup,” Miller said. “I think we’re all playing great, we’re all feeling good and we’re all mentally in a good place, so I’m hoping for the best.”
With a win, the Bruins will advance to the Sweet 16 in North Carolina. With a loss, their season ends.