Sunday, August 25

Women’s tennis recovers in defeat over Cal after fifth-straight loss to Stanford

After UCLA women's tennis won the doubles point against Stanford, senior Alaina Miller lost her singles match 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, giving the Cardinal the clinching point to win the dual. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)

After UCLA women's tennis won the doubles point against Stanford, senior Alaina Miller lost her singles match 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, giving the Cardinal the clinching point to win the dual. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)

The Bruins bounced back a day after falling to the defending champions.

No. 11 UCLA women’s tennis (12-4, 4-1 Pac-12) defeated No. 15 California (9-5, 3-2) 6-1 on Saturday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center, a day after suffering a 4-3 loss to No. 7 Stanford (14-1, 5-0).

UCLA has not defeated Stanford since 2015 and entered Friday’s matchup on the heels of a four-game losing streak against the Cardinal.

Despite a recent history of losses, coach Stella Sampras Webster said the team prepared with excitement and enthusiasm before facing the nation’s reigning champions.

“You can tell that they were doing everything that they needed to do for an opportunity to play the defending champs,” Sampras Webster said. “You got to bring your best to play the best. So everyone was fired up.”

Sophomore Abi Altick and Senior Alaina Miller lost their doubles matchup 6-1 against Stanford’s Melissa Lord and Niluka Madurawe, but wins on courts one and two allowed the Bruins to claim a 1-0 lead heading into singles play.

Altick recovered from her loss in doubles play by securing a singles win against Janice Shin in straight sets 6-1, 6-1. Her point against Stanford put UCLA up 2-0 and added to her tally of eight singles wins this season, a feat that Sampras Webster attributes to Altick’s intensity.

“She is very sweet, but she’s a quiet warrior,” Sampras Webster said. “You just know that every time she goes out there, she’s going to leave everything out on the court.”

Singles losses by senior Ayan Broomfield and freshman Elysia Bolton surrendered a two point lead to the Cardinal, but a win by redshirt junior Jada Hart over Michaela Gordon put UCLA ahead 3-2 with two matches to be played out.

Freshman Taylor Johnson fell to the Cardinal’s Emma Higuchi in a second-set tiebreaker 6-4, 7-6 (7), which left the match-clinching point to be decided between Miller and Stanford’s Emily Arbuthnott.

Miller failed to secure a win in the third set and fell to Arbuthnott 3-6, 6-3, 3-6. Her loss surrendered the match-clinching point to Stanford, allowing the Cardinal to secure their fifth consecutive win over the Bruins.

Miller said she did not allow the loss to demoralize her and instead turned it into motivation for her matchup against California.

“It’s definitely rough, but I think Stanford gave us a little fuel under our fire,” Miller said. “We came out swinging (on Saturday), and I think we played really well.”

Miller teamed up with Altick and came back to claim a doubles win against California’s Olivia Hauger and Katerina Stloukalova.

“(Miller) has really awesome energy and she’s always laughing out there,” Altick said. “I’m a little more intense. I think it’s a good balance. She keeps me loose and I keep her on it.”

Miller bounced back from Friday’s singles loss and defeated the Golden Bears’ Maria Smith 6-2, 6-3. Her contributions to the team did not end there, as she proceeded to cheer on her teammates in their respective matches, something that caught the eye of Sampras Webster.

“I gave our game ball to (Miller),” Sampras Webster said. “For her to lose that match and be able to come back and have a positive attitude around the team, just shows what a great team player she is.”

Altick continued to build on her singles win streak, emerging victorious in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 against California’s Hana Mraz. Her win clinched the victory for the Bruins, as each team played out the remaining matches to finish 6-1.

Friday’s defeat marked the Bruins’ first conference loss of the season, but UCLA will head into the final six duals of the regular season on the heels of a victory over a top-15 opponent.

“We can take a lot of confidence from this weekend. We played a lot of good tennis throughout the lineup,’’ Altick said. “Hopefully we can bring that against Pepperdine on Wednesday.”

The Bruins will host Pepperdine at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

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Papoutsis is currently a contributor on the women's tennis beat.

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