The Bruins accomplished what no team had done all season – take the doubles point from the Tar Heels.
But they still came up short.
No. 7 seed UCLA women’s tennis (21-8, 8-2 Pac-12) was toppled by No. 2 seed North Carolina (33-1, 14-0 ACC) 4-1 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA championship in Orlando, Florida. Coach Stella Sampras Webster’s squad lost by an identical score line to North Carolina in the ITA Team Indoors Championships quarterfinals.
Coming into the match, the Bruins had won 16 straight doubles points while the Tar Heels had won all 31 double points this season.
The teams split the matches on doubles courts one and two.
The duo of sophomore Abi Altick and freshman Taylor Johnson went down a break early but fought back to force a tiebreak to decide the opening point. The teams traded the first seven points of the tiebreaker before UCLA’s No. 82 pair took a two-point lead at 5-3.
“Me and (Johnson) did a good job of staying in there and fighting a really tough team,” Altick said. “It was super close throughout the tiebreaker. We were mentally strong and kept being aggressive.”
Altick and Johnson held on to win the tiebreaker 8-6, sending the Tar Heels into singles play with a deficit for the first time all season.
“The doubles point was just as tight in the indoors (match) as it was today,” Sampras Webster said. “Today, it went our way.”
North Carolina’s singles lineup boasted three top-20 players, while UCLA’s highest ranked player was No. 32 freshman Elysia Bolton.
UCLA only won two of the six first sets and relinquished the lead after senior Gabby Andrews managed to win only one game in two sets on court six. Shortly thereafter, senior Alaina Miller fell 6-2, 6-3 on court four.
Bolton was up 4-1 in the second set on court two after dropping the first set but lost the next five games to give the Tar Heels a 3-1 lead.
Senior Ayan Broomfield was knotted at three games apiece after losing the first set on court three but lost the next three games to send North Carolina to its third-ever Final Four appearance.
“We had good energy throughout the entire tournament and going into the match,” said redshirt junior Jada Hart. “They started off really strong on four of the six courts and kept that going throughout the remainder of the match.”
Altick was sitting on three match points on court four and Hart was leading in the third set on the top court when play concluded, indicating a closer match than the scoreboard suggested.
“Couple of them were not great matchups for us but you’ve got to give it to them,” Sampras Webster said. “They came out in singles and really played disciplined tennis and we weren’t able to maintain that high level. They were just better.”
UNC will face No. 3-seeded Stanford (26-1, 10-0 Pac-12) on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Orlando.