The Bruins have used doubles play to their advantage all season long.
No. 10 UCLA women’s tennis (15-6, 7-2 Pac-12) has claimed the majority of doubles points this season, including its last nine in match play. Thirteen of the Bruins’ 15 wins have included a doubles point victory, as they have only recovered three times after failing to secure the first point of the match.
Doubles play features three courts of matches consisting of one set each. For a team to race out to a 1-0 start, two of their three doubles pairs must secure the one set victory.
Coach Stella Sampras Webster said claiming the doubles point to begin a match significantly eases the pressure for singles play, especially when the Bruins are pitted against some of the nation’s top programs.
“It just takes a little pressure off,” Sampras Webster said. “Winning four matches is not easy, so it’s a lot less pressure when you only have to win three.”
In UCLA’s six losses this season, three of them started with a surrendered doubles point.
“I think we all know that if we do lose a doubles point, that we are capable of winning four singles matches,” Sampras Webster said. “That’s just the attitude we need to have when that does happen.”
Seniors Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield have shared many matches on the doubles court this season. The senior duo dropped its first doubles match against Washington State this weekend but rebounded to clinch the doubles point against Washington. Despite dropping the occasional doubles match, Sampras Webster said their performances have proved vital to the team’s success.
“We all know that (Andrews) can play doubles,” Sampras Webster said. “I love her energy and her attitude out there. It shows how much she loves the competition.”
The last five matches have featured the same lineup of freshman Elysia Bolton teaming up with redshirt junior Jada Hart, Andrews and Broomfield competing together and sophomore Abi Altick pairing up with senior Alaina Miller.
“I think we have some of the best doubles players in the country,” Sampras Webster said. “It’s great for our team to feel confident going into a match knowing that we’re hard to beat.”
The Bruins will compete in one more match before the Pac-12 championships. Sampras Webster said the Bruins’ key to success will ultimately rely on an array of factors, but the importance of the doubles point will not be overlooked.
“Our team has done a really good job of coming and being focused from the first point to the end,” Sampras Webster said. “It’s a good mentality heading into singles.”