The UCLA women’s tennis team has developed a simple algorithm for its home matches this season: win, repeat.
The No. 4 Bruins (9-1) continued their blazing home streak by winning their seventh consecutive match at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Sunday, downing Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 6-1.
Though the results were the same, the matchups weren’t. UCLA coach Stella Sampras Webster shook up the lineup against the Mustangs (5-2) and rested the top singles player, senior Yasmin Schnack, a testament to the depth of the women’s team.
“It’s such a luxury to have that flexibility, to be able to rest players and still be successful,” Sampras Webster said. “It’s one of our strengths that we can have eight players play in those six spots. We’re one of the few teams that can do that.”
Replacing Schnack in the No. 1 singles match was junior Noelle Hickey, the No. 48 player in the country. Hickey took full advantage of the position to dominate Cal Poly SLO’s Brittany Blalock in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.
“The fact that we’re putting out different people in different spots, and they’re still pulling down the “˜W’ builds our confidence.” Hickey said.
Hickey and partner sophomore Nina Pantic also filled the top doubles position, easily defeating the Mustangs’ No. 1 pair of Blalock and Suzie Matzenauer, 8-2. Freshman Stephanie Hoffpauir and junior Maya Johansson won the third doubles match 8-6, securing the point for the Bruins.
The two toughest matches of the day belonged to the second and third singles matches, fought by junior Andrea Remynse and freshman Pamela Montez. Both matches required tiebreakers to settle and resulted in a very close loss and a very close win, respectively.
The rest of the Bruins cruised by the Mustangs. Joining Hickey in winning in straight sets were Johansson, Pantic and Hoffpauir.
However, things might not be as simple when Pac-10 rivals No. 11 Stanford and No. 3 California come to town later this week.
“This weekend is going to our toughest weekend post-National Indoor Tournament,” Hickey said.
UCLA faced Cal (6-1) just more than a week ago, suffering a close 4-3 loss to the Bears in the Indoor Championships.
The Bruins are looking forward to the rematch, and being at home definitely helps.
“It’s so important for us to feel comfortable in our courts and to play well here,” Hickey said. “We have the home-court advantage. Because I’m a transfer and it’s my first year here, feeling comfortable here is like a daily process.”
It will be interesting to see the lineups when the Bruins face the undefeated Cardinal (6-0) and the Bears.
“We’re going to have to figure out who plays in those bottom two spots,” Sampras Webster said. “I’m pleased with our top three, even four. This weekend is going to be a test. We’ll see where our team is at and where we’ll go.”