The Bruins win twice as often when they pick up the doubles point.
No. 9 UCLA women’s tennis (18-7, 8-2 Pac-12) is .400 when it loses the doubles point, but .800 when it is the first team to put a point on the scoreboard.
Coach Stella Sampras Webster’s squad started doubles dual play clinching the point in their first five matches. Then, it hit a snag, dropping the point in five of its next seven matches. Since then, the Bruins have attained the opening point 13 times in a row.
“It’s great to have three teams that have a chance to win,” Sampras Webster said. “It takes a lot of pressure off of each other.”
UCLA’s doubles lineups boast three top-50 ranked duos – No. 4 combination of seniors Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield, No. 12 duo of freshman Elysia Bolton and redshirt junior Jada Hart and No. 48 duo of sophomore Abi Altick and senior Alaina Miller.
The third doubles team has been in constant flux as Sampras Webster has elected to experiment with different combinations.
“I really like our one and two doubles teams,” Sampras Webster said before the Pepperdine matchup in early April. “We’ve had some good wins and they’re solid, but we might mix (freshman Taylor Johnson) a bit in there and see what that brings.”
Since then, each possible combination of Johnson, Miller and Altick have played on third court doubles. Sampras Webster opted to go with the duo of Johnson and Altick for the Pac-12 championship, even though the duo did not play together during the last four matches of the regular season.
The pair won all three of its matches in the tournament and is 9-1 on the season.
“We just came out (with) really good energy,” Altick said. “Me and Taylor played really well this weekend so hopefully we can keep that going.”
The Bruins’ sole returning doubles team from last year – Broomfield and Andrews – has manned the top doubles court for the majority of the season, notching a 7-4 record on court one.
The friendship between the seniors has aided the Bruins in unexpected ways according to Andrews.
In UCLA’s Pac-12 championship semifinal match against No. 11 Washington, Broomfield was locked in a three-setter in singles with the score tied three apiece after tweaking her knee in doubles play.
“Me and (Broomfield) have this dynamic where I have to be on her court and vice versa (during singles),” Andrews said. “We play doubles together. We’re probably best friends. When we’re on the court together, it’s literally like two people against the one person on the other side of the net. We locked in and I was encouraging her and we were feeding each other. It was the best thing I’ve ever seen.”
Broomfield ended up pulling out a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 victory to send UCLA to the Pac-12 championship finals.