It’s win or go home for the Bruins from here on out in Ojai, California.
For the second consecutive year, No. 10 UCLA women’s tennis (16-6, 8-2 Pac-12) will enter the Pac-12 championship as the No. 2 seed coming off a win against No. 15 USC (17-6, 7-3). The Bruins received a bye and will face the winner of the Utah (13-10, 3-7) and Arizona (11-11, 2-8) match in the quarterfinals in Ojai on Thursday.
“Every match we play is going to be just like (the match against USC),” said coach Stella Sampras Webster. “It is going to be very intense and it is single elimination, so we have got to be ready.”
UCLA suffered a 4-2 loss in the Pac-12 tournament finals last year at the hands of Stanford, which went on to win the NCAA championship a month later. The Cardinal are riding a 14-game winning streak, having only tasted defeat against the then-No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs.
The Bruins have lost their last five clashes against the Cardinal stemming from March 2016, but three of the five matches were 4-3 losses. For three straight seasons, Stanford has finished the regular season undefeated during conference play.
UCLA managed to land on the opposite side of Stanford’s bracket with a 4-2 win over USC on Saturday at Marks Stadium, ensuring a matchup against the Cardinal would only come in the championship round.
The victory gave the Bruins an 8-2 conference record, identical to that of No. 13 Washington. But the Bruins were awarded the No. 2 seed due to their head-to-head 4-1 victory against the Huskies.
“It is a pretty quick turnaround,” said sophomore Abi Altick after she clinched the win against USC. “We will enjoy this victory for a little bit and then get back to work. If we keep this momentum, I think we can do well at Ojai.”
Sampras Webster’s squad has played 10 matches in the past month. Despite the intense workload, Sampras Webster said everyone is feeling good and ready to go.
“Everyone is recovering well,” said redshirt junior Jada Hart, “We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing to give ourselves the best chance to compete at our best physically.”
The No. 39 Colton, California, native is 12-7 on the season and holds a 9-3 record on court one singles. She has won her last 10 matches in doubles, nine of which came alongside freshman Elysia Bolton. The duo is No. 12 in the country, 25-7 overall and 14-4 in dual matches.
If UCLA wins its quarterfinal matchup, they will face one of No. 3-seeded Washington, No. 6-seeded Arizona State or No. 11-seeded Oregon.